If you're looking to take a flyer on Stanley Cup futures bet long shot, why not the New York Islanders? It may be a year early, but this young and largely blue-collar, tight-knit group is coming off consecutive 100-point seasons and the franchise's first playoff series win since 1993.
All-Star center John Tavares led the charge last season with 33 goals and 70 points, team-highs in both categories. While Tavares is a top-flight goal-scorer, the Islanders were lacking in overall offensive firepower a season ago. To help that situation, this offseason New York added two new wings for Tavares on the first line. RW PA Parenteau was brought in after scoring 20 goals and 41 points with the Maple Leafs last season, while new LW Andrew Ladd had 25 goals and 46 points combined with Winnipeg and Chicago.
Adding two proven veterans to the top line should provide a big boost for the Islanders this season. But there are still questions about the offensive firepower of the secondary lines. The personnel is talented, but mostly young and unproven. The Isles will need their youngsters to take the next step for a deep playoff run.
2016-17 New York Islanders Outlook
After years of struggles, optimism abounds on Long Island following two promising seasons. It's not misguided, either. Tavares could be even more prolific on the attack with his new linemates, while another year of experience for this squad should also lead to some natural progression.
Defensively, the Islanders ranked in the middle-of-the-pack in goals allowed but were excellent against the power play. They killed 85.4 percent of penalties, which was fourth-best in the NHL. But perhaps the best part of this defensive unit is its possession and puck movement. Its puck handling skills can often lead to dangerous breakouts and odd-man rushes for the Islanders.
It's an interesting situation in goal for the Islanders this season. They actually have three 'keepers vying for playing time, which can be a tenuous position. Jaroslav Halak (18-13-4, .919 SP) played well before going down with a season-ending injury in March, and then replacement Thomas Greiss (23-11-4) would post a career-high .925 save percentage. What makes things tricky is former first-round pick J-F Berube is also in the mix. The Islanders are high on Berube, so speculation is Halak and his $4.5-million cap hit could be shipped out of town. That could be a risky move, however, as Greiss has limited starting credentials and the young Berube is totally unproven at this level.
2016-17 New York Islanders Schedule
The Islanders will be immediately tested this season . They open on the road against the Rangers and Capitals then host Western powers Anaheim and San Jose to close the first week. New York was one of the better home teams last year, going 25-11-5 in its first season in Brooklyn's Barclays Center.
2016-17 New York Islanders Future Odds
The New York Islanders are +2500 to win the Stanley Cup. New York is the +700 fourth-choice to win the Metropolitan Division and +1200 to win the Eastern Conference. The Islanders "over/under" for points on the season is 96.5.
New York Islanders 2016-17 Predictions
The Islanders are likely a cut-below the elite teams in the East, but that doesn't mean they're without a shot to make some noise this season. The biggest concern is whether the secondary lines can provide enough offense. If the Islanders are to seriously contend, Brock Nelson (26 G, 40 pts)--who takes over as center of the second line-LW Anders Lee (15 G, 36 Pts) and RW Ryan Strome (8 G, 20 Pts) will each need to up their offensive production from a season ago.
There are certainly questions with this team, but make no mistake the Islanders are a team on the rise. The veteran additions up front should really help the attack and could propel Tavares to even greater scoring heights. At 25-1, it might be worth taking a shot with the Isles.
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