As part of NHL.com's 31 in 31 series, our fantasy hockey staff is breaking down each team's landscape. Fantasy-relevant players are listed in order of rank in NHL.com's top 250. Today, we look at the New York Islanders.
[ISLANDERS 31 in 31: Season preview | Top prospects | 3 Questions | Behind the numbers | More team fantasy previews]
John Tavares, C -- He has declined in points over the past two seasons (70 in 2015-16, 66 last season) after exceeding 80 in each of his prior two full seasons. He fell short of his average draft position (11.7; finished 33rd in Yahoo) last season, but thrived after the Islanders' coaching change (34 points in 35 games) before missing the final five games with a hand injury (surgery in May). New York acquired right wing Jordan Eberle on June 22, an upgrade that can help Tavares rejoin the top 10 in his contract year.
Video: NYI@VAN: Tavares buries one-timer to open scoring
Jordan Eberle, RW -- New York needed a forward of Eberle's caliber, not only for Tavares and the top line but also to improve an underachieving power play (14.9 percent; 28th in NHL). Eberle, 27, had 51 points, 14 PPP and 208 SOG last season despite playing on a line separate from Connor McDavid and on the Edmonton Oilers' second power-play unit. A return to 70 points (NHL career-high 76 in 2011-12) is not out of the question for Eberle.
Anders Lee, LW -- He's coming off NHL career highs in goals (34) and points (52) playing alongside Tavares and right wing Josh Bailey. Lee, 27, is in line for some goal-scoring regression after a high shooting percentage (17.8), but should also benefit from the addition of Eberle with his best PPP total yet. If you miss out on Eberle, shift the focus to Lee (63rd in Yahoo last season) for exposure to Tavares in most situations.
Joshua Ho-Sang, RW -- Depending on Ho-Sang's even-strength linemates and whether he locks down a first power-play role, he could emerge as a Calder Trophy candidate. He showed chemistry late last season with Anthony Beauvillier and could also mesh well with playmaking center prospect Mathew Barzal on the second line. Ho-Sang had 10 points (four goals, six assists) and two PPP in 21 games last season and is an explosive skater who will be featured in Doug Weight's system.
Video: NYI@BUF: Ho-Sang finishes break with outstanding move
Mathew Barzal, C -- The Islanders' No. 2 center spot is open, so Barzal can play top-six minutes if he sticks in the NHL. Barzal, 20, scored 278 points in 202 games over four seasons with Seattle of the Western Hockey League, capping it off with 25 points in 16 WHL playoff games to lead Seattle to a championship (won postseason MVP). He's a high-upside choice in the final rounds of your draft.
Nick Leddy -- He finished with NHL career highs in goals (11) and points (46) and SOG (137). His PPP total was disappointing (15) considering he played the entire season on the first unit, but should get a boost in that category with Eberle and the influx of young offensive talent. Leddy could be a bargain in later rounds and finish among the top 20 defenseman rankings.
Video: NYI@STL: Leddy nets PPG to trim deficit
Ryan Pulock -- He's likely to earn a full-time NHL role and could potentially see first-unit power-play action with Tavares, Eberle, Lee and either Leddy or another forward. Pulock had 46 points (15 goals, 31 assists) and 141 SOG in 55 games with Bridgeport of the American Hockey League last season. He was also productive for the Islanders in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs (three points, two PPP in six games).
Jaroslav Halak -- After a slow start and surprising AHL assignment, Halak kept the Islanders' playoff hopes alive until the final weekend of the season. He was recalled March 23 and went 6-1-0 with a .949 SV% and one shutout. They missed the postseason by one point, but Halak built momentum for his contract year. He's a fringe top 20 goalie who could finish higher if he runs away with the starting job.
Thomas Greiss -- He won more than half his games (NHL career-high 26 wins, three shutouts in 51 games), but his peripherals took a hit when he was the full-time starter during Halak's demotion. From Dec. 30 to March 23, Greiss played the second-most games (33) behind Cam Talbot (34), going 17-11-5 with a 2.75 goals-against average and .911 SV%. This could be the NHL's best time-share tandem if the Islanders defense stays healthy and they return to the playoffs, so Halak and Greiss are worth drafting together in the 10th round or later.
Others to consider: Josh Bailey (LW/RW), Andrew Ladd (LW), Johnny Boychuk (D), Anthony Beauvillier (C/LW), Brock Nelson (C/LW)