Top 5 Right Wingers In New York Islanders History
Top Five Islanders Right Wingers
Over the past few weeks, we have taken a look at the best centers and left winger in the history of the <New York Islanders. Today we keep that going, this time taking a look at the greatest right wingers in the history of the franchise. As I have said in the past, it is always tough to try and define the greatest players at each position, especially when players stretch across different eras. The game has changed so much over the last 41 years, which is how long the Islanders have been in existence. It really is a tough task to try and compare players, and then turn it into naming the best at each position. As we have with the other two positions, we are going to try and do that here.
Much like left winger, the position of right wingers for the Islanders isn’t as glamorous or as deep as the position of center. There is, however, a fair share of right wingers who have played for the Islanders that have had an impact on the franchise both on and off the ice. When coming up with this list, there were a few things that had to be taken into account.
First things first, we had to look at the kind of stats the player has put up. Sure, there have been guys that played for the Islanders that have also played for other teams around the league. One thing I took into account is that the players on this list had to have played at least 200 games in an Islanders uniform. The reason for 200 games is because I feel that is plenty of games to have an impact on the franchise. Also, when it comes to stats, scoring prowess is taken into account. Being able to put up points while playing is a big factor for greatness.
Now there are a couple of players that have had an impact on this team, but just missed the cut for this top-five list. Bill Harris is a name that comes to mind. An original Islander, Harris was a fan favorite and scored a lot of big goals for the franchise in the early years. The same thing can be said about Ed Westfall, who was the team’s first captain. Westfall was also responsible for scoring one the biggest playoff goals in team history in 1975. Those are guys who just missed the cut.
So now, without further ado, here are the top five right wingers in Islanders history!
5. Patrick Flatley
Flatley was drafted by the Islanders 21st overall in the 1982 entry draft. Picking up where he left off on the Canadian National Team in 1983–84 where he scored 31 goals in 57 games, Flatley had a sensational rookie playoff campaign. He scored nine goals in three rounds for the Islanders as they were marching towards their fifth straight Stanley Cup finals appearance. Although he never emerged as a top scorer, Flatley did become a highly effective role player, adding smart positional play, strong defense, and grit to the Islanders teams in the late 1980s and 1990s.
Flatley was sometimes referred to as "the chairman of the boards" because he rarely failed to dig the puck out in battles in the corners. In 1991, he was named the Islanders' fifth captain, a position which he held until he left the team following the 1996 season. Flatley had a tenacity to his game that was similar to that of John Tonelli. His best offensive season came in 1992-93, when he recorded 47 assists and 60 points. Flatley played in 712 games for the Islanders, scoring 160 goals and adding in 328 assists for a total of 488 points, the third-highest point total by a right winger in franchise history.
4. Steve Thomas
Steve Thomas entered into the NHL as an undrafted free agent, playing his first few years with the Toronto Maple Leafs. From there, he went on to play five seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, before being traded to the Islanders in 1992. It would be with the Islanders that Thomas would have his best years. In the 1992–93 season, Thomas scored 37 goals and 50 assists for a career-high of 87 points. During the playoffs, when Islanders superstar Pierre Turgeon was injured by a Dale Hunter check in the first round, Thomas and teammate Ray Ferraro emerged as the unlikely heroes of the Islanders' playoff run. Both made the top-10 in postseason scoring as the Islanders made their Cinderella run to the Prince of Wales Conference finals. The next year, he set a career-high in goals with 42.
During his time with the Islanders, Thomas really established himself as a top-six forward in the league. He had one more season in which he came close to putting up the numbers he did with the Islanders, but it wasn’t the same after he left long island. Thomas played in 275 games in an Islanders uniform, scoring 118 goals and adding 140 assists for 258 points. It may have been a short career for Thomas with the Islanders, but it was sure an impactful one.
3. Zigmund Palffy
Palffy was drafted by the Islanders 26th overall in 1991, and he had a terrific career on long island. His first two years with the Islanders, in 1993-94 and 1994-95, were uneventful to say the least. The 1995-96 season was Palffy’s coming out party as he scored 87 points in 81 games, quickly became the star of the Islanders franchise. The following two seasons were much the same for Palffy, as he scored 90 and 87 points respectively. During the 1998–99 season, Palffy was limited to only 50 games but still played solidly, scoring 50 points. After the season, the Islanders, facing financial woes, traded him and Bryan Smolinski to the Los Angeles Kings in a deal that saw Olli Jokinen, Josh Green, Mathieu Biron and a first round draft pick go to the Islanders. He was greatly missed by the team's fans, who at that time saw him as the shining star of their organization in turmoil.
What fans remember most about Palffy was his stellar playmaking ability. He was the first true superstar in the new generation for the Islanders, but the team was unable to really capitalize on it. Palffy was the type of player who would shoot the puck from anywhere at any time, which made him so dangerous. During his career with the Islanders, Palffy played in 331 games, while scoring 168 goals and adding 163 assist for 331 points. Palffy was the one Islander I really wish had won a championship while playing in the big leagues.
2. Bobby Nystrom
This one is almost too easy. Bob Nystrom had himself an outstanding career here on Long Island. He was drafted by the Islanders 33rd overall in 1972, and played his entire pro career with the Islanders. Nystrom was one of the hardest working, if not most talented, members of the New York Islanders, who were quickly becoming one of the most feared and respected clubs in the NHL. Although Nystrom had developed into a very skilled and respected fighter with a physical edge to his game, Nystrom took it upon himself to improve his skating ability. He regularly took power skating classes, and in time, became a fairly fluid skater with strong hockey instincts.
As with many of the Islanders of the early 1980s, those instincts seemed to be more in tune when the playoffs rolled around. Nystrom has been known as one of the all-time clutch players in NHL Stanley Cup playoff history. He tallied 39 goals and 83 points in 157 playoff games; however, he is most noted for his knack for sudden death overtime winners. Nystrom ended playoff overtime games four times in his career.
On May 24, 1980, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Philadelphia Flyers, Nystrom scored the game winner at 7:11 of overtime to secure the Islanders' first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Nystrom was part of the first NHL team (1979–80 New York Islanders) to win a Stanley Cup with Europeans on its roster. Nystrom embraced the Long Island community like few others, contributing to various charities in the area and promoting the local businesses whenever possible. By virtue of these distinctions, and coupled with the most famous goal in team history, Nystrom was nicknamed "Mr. Islander." During his career, Nystrom played in 900 games for the team, scoring 235 goals and adding in 278 assists for 513 points. All of those numbers are second in team history for right wingers.
1. Mike Bossy
This one is a no brainer. One of the greatest pure goal scorers in NHL history, Mike Bossy was drafted 15th overall by the Islanders in 1977. He won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie in 1978 when he scored 53 goals, a rookie record at the time. In nine of his 10 years in the NHL, Bossy scored 50 goals or more, and he even hit the 60-goal mark five times. He also became the second man in NHL history to score 50 goals in 50 games, which he did during the 1980-81 season.
Bossy was known for being able to not only score goals, but score them in remarkable fashion. The most incredible, perhaps, came in the 1982 Stanley Cup Finals against the Vancouver Canucks. Bossy was up-ended by a check from Tiger Williams and sent flying several feet in the air parallel to the ice, but managed to hook the puck with his stick and score. So yeah, he had a flare for the dramatic and beautiful as well.
Bossy was also noted for his clean play, never resorting to fighting (and being one of the first players to speak out against violence on the ice) and winning the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly play three times: 1983, 1984, and 1986. In his career, Bossy played 752 games in an Islanders uniform, scoring 573 goals and adding 553 assists for a grand total of 1,126 points. The 573 goals are the most in the history of the team, while the 1,126 points puts him second on the all-time team scoring list.
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