The New York Islanders have had a very storied history since joining the NHL in 1972. From four straight championships in the 80s, some troubling times in the 90s and 2000s, and a recent resurgence. But through the good and bad times, the Islanders have had a number of quality players come through the franchise. With that being said, it’ll be interesting to see what an all time Islanders team would look like. The rules for this team creation is one player per decade to create a six player lineup.
1970s: Billy Smith (G)
Billy Smith has the honor of being one of the original Islanders taken in the expansion draft. That selection was proven to be one of the team’s best, as Smith became one of the best goalies in franchise history. For one he has 304 wins with the team, which is the most in team history by a significant margin. He also was the starting goaltender for all four of the Islanders championship victories. Amongst his other accolades is a Vezina Trophy in 1982, a Conn Smythe in 1983 and a William Jennings Trophy in the same year. Simply put, Smith was an essential part of the Islanders early success. His tremendous success with the Islanders was recognized by the league as a whole, with Smith being inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1993.
1980s: Mike Bossy (RW)
It would be impossible to make an all time Islanders team without mentioning Mike Bossy. Bossy was arguably the best player in Islanders history, an absolutely prolific scorer. He scored over 50 goals in all but one year of his 10 year career (all of which were with the Islanders). His goal scoring prowess was right up there with Gretzky as they both have five 60 goal seasons. Bossy also owns the NHL record for goals per game percentage, with a whopping 76%. He’ll most be remembered for his heroics in the playoffs, where he scored 12 game winning goals in the Stanley Cup years. Like Billy Smith, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991 and was named as one of the top 100 players in league history.
1990s: Kenny Jonsson (LD)
Jonsson isn’t nearly as notable as Smith or Bossy, but he was a high quality player for the Islanders. He joined the Islanders in 1995 and was eventually named the eighth captain of the franchise in 1999. Jonsson was a similar kind of player to what Adam Pelech is today for the Islanders. He did his job very well, but wasn’t particularly flashy in doing so. Jonsson was also much better on the offensive side of the puck when compared to Adam Pelech. While not the biggest name in Islanders history, someone who was named a team captain is very worthy of making this all time team.
2000s: Jason Blake (LW)
Jason Blake was a very interesting case in Islanders history. When the Islanders traded for him, he was a player with potential but didn’t produce very much. Even his first season and a half with the team wasn’t all that productive. But in 2002, he put it all together and wound up scoring 25 goals and getting 55 points overall. This was the standard for Blake’s production over his final three seasons with the Islanders. He even became a 40 goal scorer in the 2006 season, in which the Islanders made the playoffs. While Blake’s history with the Islanders wasn’t necessarily a long one, he was one of the team’s most highly productive offensive players in this decade.
2010s: John Tavares (C)
Fans might have some bitter feelings about his 2018 free agency decision, but Tavares undoubtedly deserves a spot on this team. The complexion of the Islanders franchise changed dramatically after he was drafted first overall in 2009. He was one of the best offensive players the Islanders had in a long time, and a captain for five years. Plus, he helped get the team back to the playoffs after missing them for five consecutive years. Most notably in 2016, Tavares’ overtime goal in game six against the Panthers gave the Islanders their first series win since 1993. Regardless of how he left, what he did while he was with the Islanders is absolutely unforgettable.
Present: Ryan Pulock (LD)
While it’s still early in his career, Pulock is already blossoming into a great player for the Islanders. He’s an excellent two way defenseman who’s currently a part of the Islanders top defensive pairing. His big Islander moment came in this past postseason in game four of the Eastern Conference Finals. In the final seconds of regulation, Ryan McDonagh had a golden opportunity for a game tying goal. But Pulock was able to position himself to guide the puck away and secure the win. This was critical for the Islanders to secure a home win and push the series to seven games. While Pulock still has to work on his offensive consistency, he is an important player for the Islanders now and in future.
Featured image courtesy of NHL
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