Barzal Horvat NYI season preview

The 2023-24 NHL season starts Oct. 10. With training camps underway, is taking a look at the three keys, the inside scoop on roster questions, and the projected lineup for each of the 32 teams. Today, the New York Islanders.

Coach: Lane Lambert (second season)

Last season: 42-31-9; fourth place in Metropolitan Division, lost to Carolina Hurricanes in Eastern Conference First Round


1. Getting to know Bo

Bo Horvat enters the first season of an eight-year contract he signed Feb. 5. He had 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 30 regular-season games with the Islanders following the Jan. 30 trade that brought him to New York from the Vancouver Canucks. He scored an NHL career-high 38 goals but said getting traded for the first time, adjusting to a new team and relocating across North America took a toll physically and mentally. This season, Horvat gets a full training camp to bond with teammates and find a comfort level on and off the ice.

2. Barzal's best fit

A center for most of his first seven NHL seasons, Mathew Barzal began training camp at right wing on a line with Horvat in the middle. The two seemed to be building some chemistry as linemates until a knee injury sustained in a collision with Boston Bruins forward Craig Smith on Feb. 18 ended Barzal's regular season. Though he prefers center and had 51 points (14 goals, 37 assists) in 58 games last season, Barzal playing the wing gives him a chance to replicate that success with Horvat could create new opportunities for him to excel in new spots on the ice.

3. Feel the power

General manager Lou Lamoriello said Sept. 11 he's not concerned about the power play and confirmed the entire coaching staff would return this season, including assistant John MacLean, who is in charge of the man-advantage unit. The Islanders went from 12th in the NHL (22.1 percent) in 2021-22 to 30th (15.8 percent) last season and were 1-for-18 with one short-handed goal-against in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a six-game loss to the Hurricanes.

Stefen Rosner on the Islanders upcoming season


Making the cut

Could at least one of the top prospects steal a roster spot? William Dufour, a 21-year-old forward, made his NHL debut Jan. 18, when he was minus-2 in 6:48 of ice time in a 4-1 loss to the Bruins and then was returned to Bridgeport of the American Hockey League. Matthew Maggio, a 20-year-old forward, led the Ontario Hockey League last season in goals (54) and points (111), but probably needs at least one full season in the AHL. Samuel Bolduc may start the season as the seventh defenseman. The 22-year-old had three points (two goals, one assist) in 17 regular-season games. He struggled in two playoff games, replacing an injured Alexander Romanov, but earned praise from assistant general manager Chris Lamoriello for showing maturity through adversity.

Most intriguing addition

Julien Gauthier isn't projected to make the opening-night roster but the 26-year-old forward is expected to make an impact this season. He signed a two-year contract July 5 after he had NHL career highs in games (57), goals (nine) and points (14) for the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators last season. He's yet to establish himself as a regular despite his size (6-foot-4, 224 pounds) and speed, but it's possible he'll get that chance in the Islanders' bottom-six forward group. Injuries have limited Cal Clutterbuck, 35 years old and a pillar of "The Identity Line" with Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas, to 49 games last season and 59 games in 2021-22.

Biggest potential surprise

Ruslan Iskhakov had a good first pro season in North America, finishing third among AHL rookies with 51 points (17 goals, 34 assists) in 69 games for Bridgeport last season. The 23-year-old forward could earn an NHL opportunity with a strong training camp after an injury sidelined him during the preseason last season.

Ready to contribute

Oliver Wahlstrom said on the first day of training camp that he had more bounce in his step coming off "probably the best eight months I've ever had in my life," most of which was spent rehabilitating a season-ending knee injury sustained Dec. 27. The 23-year-old forward began skating in mid-July. He signed a one-year contract July 17 and this could be a make-or-break season for him. He had 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) and was averaging 12:10 of ice time in 35 games when he was injured, the most he's played since he averaged 12:23 in 44 games in 2020-21. Selected by the Islanders in the first round (No. 11) of the 2018 NHL Draft, Wahlstrom has 61 points (32 goals, 29 assists) in 161 regular-season games and three points (one goal, two assists) in five playoff games.

Fantasy sleeper

Kyle Palmieri, RW (undrafted on average in fantasy) -- The 32-year-old forward had 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in his final 18 regular-season games and five points (two goals, three assists) in six playoff games against the Hurricanes. Palmieri had strong chemistry with high-scoring center Brock Nelson (led Islanders with NHL career-high 75 points last season) and fellow deep sleeper Pierre Engvall down the stretch and has a high goal ceiling (30 with New Jersey Devils in 2015-16). -- Pete Jensen


Anders Lee -- Bo Horvat -- Mathew Barzal

Pierre Engvall -- Brock Nelson -- Kyle Palmieri

Hudson Fasching -- Jean-Gabriel Pageau -- Oliver Wahlstrom

Matt Martin -- Casey Cizikas -- Cal Clutterbuck

Adam Pelech -- Ryan Pulock

Alexander Romanov -- Noah Dobson

Sebastian Aho -- Scott Mayfield

Ilya Sorokin

Semyon Varlamov