5 Biggest Issues Still Facing the New York Islanders This Offseason

By Josh VanDyke

5 Biggest Issues Still Facing The New York Islanders This Offseason

John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen react to their Game 7 loss to the Washington Capitals
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Islanders were one of the more surprising teams during the 2014-15 regular season, but injuries hindered them in the final stretch. The Islanders ultimately fell to the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs and return the majority of its young core of talent. If New York can address five problem areas in the 2015-16 season, they could be an Eastern Conference favorite.

5. Production From Young Defensemen

Calvin de Haan follows the play down the ice during a 2015 game
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

5. Production From Young Defensemen

Calvin de Haan follows the play down the ice during a 2015 game
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Islanders are anchored by veteran Johnny Boychuk and young star Nick Leddy on the defensive end, but need more production from its young players behind them. Players like Travis Hamonic and Lubomir Visnoksky showed flashes of potential throughout the season but need to be more consistent. Improved play from Travis Hickey and Calvin de Haan would also go a long way in fixing this issue.

4. Bottom Six Production

Ryan Strome sizes up a shot during a 2015 game
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

4. Bottom Six Production

Ryan Strome sizes up a shot during a 2015 game
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The injury to Kyle Okposo last season allowed young players like Ryan Strome and Anders Lee to play on the top two lines during important regular season games. The coaching staff is hoping to get similar production from the them on the third or fourth line this season.

3. Veteran Experience

Lee Stempniak follows the play down the ice during a 2015 game
Getty Images

3. Veteran Experience

Lee Stempniak follows the play down the ice during a 2015 game
Getty Images

The Islanders are one of the youngest teams in the league with only four players over the age of 30. Current free agent forward Lee Stempniak would be a great veteran presence in the locker room and could help with scoring production. His experience with the New York Rangers in previous seasons and Winnipeg Jets last season would help if the Islanders if they qualify for the playoffs in 2015-16.

2. Special Teams Play

Casey Cizikas carries the puck down the ice during a 2015 game
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

2. Special Teams Play

Casey Cizikas carries the puck down the ice during a 2015 game
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Islanders finished 26th in the league in penalty kill percentage last season, by far the worst of any playoff team. To make matters worse, the power play unit finished 0-for-14 in the team's playoff series with the Washington Capitals. They will likely rebound after a poor playoff performance, but the penalty kill unit has a lot of room for improvement.

1. Top Line Scoring

Kyle Okposo smiles during a break in the action
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

1. Top Line Scoring

Kyle Okposo smiles during a break in the action
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

This might seem counterintuitive, but the Islanders need more production from its best players. John Tavares had an outstanding season last year, but his line-mates need to hold up their end of the bargain. Kyle Okposo missed 22 games, so his 51 points will likely improve with a full season of health. If Okposo can stay healthy and Frans Nielsen can bounce back from a sub-par season, the Islanders will be hard to beat in 2015-16.

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