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Geico Top 15 Greatest Islanders: 6-4

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders

We asked you to vote on your choice for the greatest player in Islanders history. The votes are in and now is counting down the top 15 players in team history.

Bobby Nystrom scored the most important goal in franchise history, netting the Islanders’ cup-clincher against the Philadelphia Flyers on May 24, 1980. Known as “Mr. Islander” Nystrom was a member of the original 1972 Islanders’ team and racked up 513 points (235 goals, 278 assists) in 900 NHL games, all with the Isles. Nystrom was a heart-and-soul player and was as tough as they come, racking up 1,248 penalty minutes over his career – the fifth most in team history. Nystrom was a seven-time, 20-goal scorer, netting 30 in a career year in 1977-78. The Islanders bestow the Bob Nystrom Award annually “to the Islander who best exemplifies leadership, hustle and dedication." Nystrom had his number 23 retired on April 1, 1995.

John Tavares is the only active Islander to make this list, a testament to his impact in his first six NHL seasons. Tavares led the Islanders in scoring in his first four seasons and was nominated for the Hart Memorial Trophy (NHL MVP) in 2013 and 2015. The Islanders captain is shooting up  team’s all-time scoring list, vaulting from 17th to 13th after scoring 86 points this season. Tavares is the Islanders’ game-breaker on the ice and a classy, respectful leader off of it. Tavares also won gold with Team Canada at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Billy Smith is the goalie to which all Islanders’ goalies are measured. Smith was the ultimate big-game goaltender, backstopping the Islanders to four straight Stanley Cups and five Finals appearances. Smith did his best work in the 1983 Finals, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP), as the Islanders swept Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers. Smith also won the Vezina Trophy (best goaltender) in 1982 and the William Jennings Trophy (for fewest goals against) in 1983. He leads the Islanders in wins (304) and games played (675), playing 17 years on Long Island. If a player got too close to “Battlin’ Billy” they felt it, as Smith earned 484 penalty minutes over his Isles career – 22nd on the Islanders all-time PIMs list. Smith was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993.

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