The Metropolitan Division is home to the last three Stanley Cup Champions. How do the Columbus Blue Jackets stack up heading into the 2018-2019 season?
The most tumultuous offseason in the Metropolitan Division was certainly that of the New York Islanders. The Columbus Blue Jackets will see a drastically different Islanders team this year and they will actually get to see them on the Island this year.
Sure, Brooklyn is technically on Long Island but we all know thats a cop out. This year, the Islanders organization will begin their transition back to the heart of Long Island. The Columbus Blue Jackets will play both of their road matchup against the Islanders in the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum this season. The Islanders will play 20 home games in their old barn as they transition to their traditional home farther out on the island.
The fans in Nassau and Suffolk counties will be rooting for a much different team in 2018 though. The Islanders of course lost their franchise center, John Tavares, to the Toronto Maple Leafs this offseason in the biggest free agent sweepstakes in the last 20 years. The Islanders ownership made several huge moves to try and retain Tavares including firing old GM Garth Snow and bringing in the well respected Lou Lamoriello from Toronto.
Columbus Blue Jackets
They also brought in a new head coach fresh off of a Stanley Cup victory to entice Tavares. Barry Trotz was signed to be the bench master in New York but the changes weren’t enough to keep Tavares.
His departure can not be understated. It has not only made the Maple Leafs instant Cup favorites, but it also has likely doomed the Islanders to the cellar for the 2018-2019 season. After missing the playoffs by 17 points with Tavares, the Islanders don’t have a lot to look forward to this year.
They did have a great draft picking up a top flight winger and defenseman in the 1st round. Both Noah Dobson and Oliver Wahlstrom though will need another year before making an impact with the Islanders.
Other offseason moves included bringing in Leo Komarov and Valterri Filppula. These veteran players will not make much of an impact for the Islanders. Except Komarov’s contract that will hurt the team down the road.
The Islanders have a ton of young talent in the system but it needs time to develop. Matthew Barzal will be a star for them for years to come and Josh Bailey is an underrated player. Beyond those two the Islanders are pretty bare and their goaltending situation is still a mess.
The Columbus Blue Jackets were 3-1 against the Islanders last year including an impressive 5-0 shutout in the season opener. The two don’t meet until December when the Islanders might already be eliminated mathematically from the playoffs.
All joking aside, the Jackets should be able to pick up another six points from the Islanders this year. Playing in the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum presents an interesting challenge but the Jackets are a clearly superior team that should take advantage of the young Islanders.