New York Islanders 2015-16 NHL Preview

Record: 47-28-7
Projected Finish: 2nd in Metropolitan4th in Eastern Conference
Head Coach: Alain Vineault
Key Additions: Taylor Beck (Toronto), Thomas Greiss (Pittsburgh), Marek Zidlicky (Detroit)
Key Losses: Michal Neuvirth (Philadelphia)
Playoff Prediction: Lose in Conference Finals to Montreal

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New York Islanders

Metropolitan,Eastern Conference

Record: 47-28-7
Projected Finish: 2nd in Metropolitan4th in Eastern Conference
Head Coach: Alain Vineault
Key Additions: Taylor Beck (Toronto), Thomas Greiss (Pittsburgh), Marek Zidlicky (Detroit)
Key Losses: Michal Neuvirth (Philadelphia)
Playoff Prediction: Lose in Conference Finals to Montreal

Team MVP

Nick Leddy – D

Call me crazy, but this is going to be a massive year for Nick Leddy. He’s not the star of the team, but he’s a guy who might be able to step in and be a big piece of the Islanders championship puzzle when needed. Look back at his final years with the Chicago Blackhawks, and you’ll remember how critical he was at times to those teams that won a Stanley Cup or made a deep run in the postseason.

It’s easy to call on John Tavares here as the MVP of the team, but the Isles most important player might not make himself known until the postseason when push starts coming to shove. Leddy was big for the Islanders last year, and we could see him truly break out as a top defenceman in the NHL this year in Brooklyn.

Best Case Scenario

People are way high on the Islanders this year — like way high. Pierre McGuire has the Isles going to the Stanley Cup, and while that’s a bold ass prediction, it’s not something that is totally unfounded. The root of this argument that New York could go on a tear this season is planted firmly in the fact that the Eastern Conference is about as wide open as it gets.

Feb 19, 2015; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy (2) celebrates his goal with center Brock Nelson (29) during the third period against the Nashville Predators at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. New York Islanders won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Feb 19, 2015; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy (2) celebrates his goal with center Brock Nelson (29) during the third period against the Nashville Predators at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. New York Islanders won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Aside from Montreal and possibly the Rangers, there’s not a clear cut favorite to come out of the Conference. Tampa Bay is hit or miss from year-to-year while the Bruins and Capitals are both teams that contend but not always convincingly. Pittsburgh isn’t going to be scary until they figure things out — which leaves the Isles with a surprisingly wide open door to try and race through. They might not be Stanley Cup Final bound, but don’t be shocked to see them make a serious run to the Conference Finals.

Worst Case Scenario

As wide open as the East is and as much as that works for the Islanders, it can also work against them. While it’s true that there’s room to wiggle on up in the conference, New York isn’t the only team looking to take advantage of the landscape. Pittsburgh, Washington and Boston all got better this offseason and will be looking to close in on the ground that New York is similarly eyeing.

There’s also the fact that the Isles are moving to Brooklyn this season, and the shift in scenery could work against them. Historically, teams who move to cities don’t typically win right away and the adjustment period might be something that stunts growth for the Islanders. Worse case scenario is the team missing the postseason, Which could be hard to do in a division like the Metropolitan but isn’t unfathomable when you consider teams like Detroit, Florida and Toronto could end up crowding and already claustrophobic playoff picture.