Analysis of the start of the Islanders 2021-22 season has prompted a lot of overreactions about the team. However, some of these takes on the early season may not actually be full overreactions. Some of these so-called overreactions could possibly have some truth to them. It’s time to begin assessing some of the overreactions to the Islanders season.
Islanders Would’ve Been Better Keeping Eberle Over Bailey
The Islanders had to lose a top-six winger to the expansion draft with Josh Bailey and Jordan Eberle both made available. Ultimately, Seattle chose to take first-liner Jordan Eberle from the Islanders. This left either Kyle Palmieri or Josh Bailey to replace him, and neither one has slotted in very well. The two players have just one goal between them through the Islanders’ first 10 games. Meanwhile, in Seattle, Eberle leads the team in goals with seven and in total points with nine. Eberle’s hot start to the year has certainly raised the question of if the Islanders made the right decision in not trying to protect Eberle.
Assessment: Not An Overreaction: It’s no secret that Eberle is a much more consistent goal scorer than Bailey. He also had great chemistry on the first line and complimented the game of Anders Lee and Mat Barzal nicely. While Josh Bailey has and will always be a great Islander, his role is very expendable. He hasn’t provided much to the first line with only six shots through 10 games (Eberle has 33). In addition, Palmieri has played just fine in what is normally Bailey’s role on the second line. Having Eberle over Bailey right now would be a major boost to the team’s goal-scoring ability. They need an aggressive scorer like Eberle more than a less aggressive playmaker like Josh Bailey.
Sorokin Should Be the Hands Down Starter
When Semyon Varlamov missed the first nine games due to injury, sophomore Ilya Sorokin stepped in as the starter. After a rough first two games, Sorokin settled down and has been an absolute wall in net for the Islanders. He’s acquired three shutouts in addition to an impressive 1.98 GAA and a .939 save percentage. And these haven’t been easy games for him, he’s been bombarded with plenty of shots and quality chances by the opposition. But through it all, he’s stayed strong and helped get the team back on track after stumbling out of the gate. This standout performance has left many believing that he should have the starting job over Varlamov.
Assessment: Not an Overreaction: The future in net for the Islanders is Ilya Sorokin. Varlamov is in the last year of his contract, and given the Islanders cap situation, he probably won’t be back. This gives the Islanders all the incentive in the world to let Sorokin get the majority of the starts until he struggles. In addition, Varlamov didn’t look anywhere near as good as Sorokin in his first start against the Wild. He let in the game-winning goal on a shot he should’ve saved all the way in back of the zone. Knowing how Trotz operates with veterans, this situation will probably be a 50/50 split until one or the other is excessively bad. But given how Sorokin has started the year, it’s not an overreaction to believe he should be the primary starter.
Aätu Raty Is Already the Team’s Top Prospect
The Islanders took one of the biggest gambles of the 2021 NHL entry draft in the second round. They selected Aätu Raty, an 18-year-old center from Finland with the 52nd pick in the draft. There was a time where Raty was considered the best prospect in this given draft pool. But a major drop in his confidence and his performance soured scouts on him as a first-round prospect. Given these concerns, Raty still has major potential to one day grow into a high caliber first or second-line center. With the immense amount of talent Raty offers and the lack of quality forward prospects in the system, Raty could already be the team’s best prospect.
Assessment: Slight Overreaction: Shortly after drafting him, Raty went on a tear in the World Junior Summer Showcase. He scored 14 points across the showcase, which included a four-goal performance in one game. And after being loaned to Jukurit and given a substantial role this season, he’s scored four points across two games. Although this in itself may be an overreaction, it seems Raty is getting the confidence and scoring touch back that made him a first-round prospect. Despite this, he still has a ways to go before he’s NHL-bound.
The Islanders already have some near NHL-ready prospects like Samuel Bolduc and Robin Salo. 19-year-old winger William Dufour is also worth mentioning as he has been playing outstanding hockey in the QMJHL. While Raty certainly ranks in the top five in regards to team prospects, the Islanders need to see some more development and maturing from Raty before he is considered the team’s top prospect.
The Parise Signing Is a Failure
So far Zach Parise hasn’t been the offensive difference-maker the team had hoped for. Through 10 games he only has two assists, both of which came in the win against the Canadiens. The Islanders rolled the dice bringing in Parise, hoping that his lackluster seven-goal season was just a fluke. However, he hasn’t been able to find that high level of goal-scoring success he had in Minnesota. This very slow start may leave many to wonder if the signing of Parise was a failure for the Islanders
Assessment: Overreaction: Parise’s first 10 games with the Islanders haven’t been great, but they haven’t been bad either. He’s playing aggressively on the offensive side of the puck and he’s working well with Barry Trotz’s game style. His level of play is nowhere near Zdeno Chara‘s level of bad, as he hasn’t had a profound negative impact on the team (as shown by his 0 +/-). It seems as though he’s just adjusting to playing with a new team and new linemates. Once he gets that elusive first goal, he should gain confidence and find himself on the scoresheet more often. And even if he’s not the same player he was in Minnesota, he still offers more experience and potential than the other options the Islanders have available.
Featured image courtesy of Getty Images
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