Progress On The Island?

John Tavares and the New York Islanders

The Dallas Stars are having a fantastic season. Despite struggling since the NHL’s All-Star weekend, the Stars are still the top team in the Pacific Division and third in the Western Conference.

On the other side of the pond, it’s the same old story for the New York Islanders this season. They are forever struggling and destined to miss the playoffs again.

But guess what the Stars have in common with the 28th place Islanders? This might actually surprised you.

Following the NHL’s action on Friday night, the Stars and Islanders are the only teams in the league to have three 20-goal scorers.


Yeah. Friday night’s Pittsburgh Penguins-Islanders brawl-fest allowed Michael Grabner, John Tavares and Matt Moulson to each net their 20th goals of the season.

So wait a second. Of all the great teams in the NHL this season – the Vancouver Canucks, Philadelphia Flyers, Detroit Red Wings etc… – none of them have three 20-goal scorers?

Correct. And to make matters more interesting, the New York Rangers, a current playoff bound team, have zero 20-goal scorers. Zero. However they do have a great goalie who can actually stay healthy for a few months here and there. But I digress.

Maybe it’s a bit of an anomaly. A Claude Giroux goal would put the Flyers in this (not so) prestigious club while the Red Wings and Canucks will almost certainly have three or more 20-goal scorers by the end of the season.

And maybe it’s worth giving the Islanders some credit too. Maybe.

The Canucks, Red Wings and Flyers are the league’s top three scoring teams while the Stars rank 13th and Islanders are the 25th. (Sidenote thought: there’s actually five teams who score less than the Islanders? Ouch).

In a weird way, the Islanders scoring points to some growth. Some of their young forwards appear to be making progress and they still have a few (potential) offensive stars waiting in the wings (Brock Nelson and Nino Niederreiter especially). It’s also encouraging news for the club when their AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, are actually playing well, despite a number of injuries, player call ups and roster disruptions. I haven’t even mentioned Kyle Okposo or Josh Bailey, two players who’ve had set backs because of injuries and demotions this season. It goes without saying that these two forwards remain a big part of the Islanders rebuilding plans.

Perhaps there’s hope on the Island after all. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but maybe things are finally starting to change for the better. I really want this team to be good again. I’d love to expect the New York Islanders to challenge for a playoff position each season and not be laughed at.

Maybe stats like this, one of only two NHL teams to currently have three 20-goal scorers, are anomalies. Or maybe they actually mean something. With the string of talent the Islanders have drafted over the last few years, it would be an absolute shame for them not to climb out of the NHL’s basement.

Given their track record and management, I’ll admit I’m probably being too optimistic about this franchise, but it does show some progress. And at the moment, any progress is a good thing for the Isles.