Sports betting is finally legal in the state of New York! Whether the legality of such actions has mattered to you thus far, the buzz around this season is undeniable as access to books is significantly expanded. Who should you look at for your player props? What about your fantasy draft?
With a low-scoring team like the Islanders, you’re most likely not going to draft their players in your first or second rounds, unless you’re willing to bet on certain guys stepping up. However, that is not to say there is no fantasy hockey value to be found on this roster. Let’s look at who might prove to be the best Islanders for your team.
These are the players that you might consider in the first or second round of the draft, but more likely in subsequent rounds when the league’s top scorers are gone.
Mat Barzal (C) – Barzal is easily the first choice for most people, leading the Islanders in total points last season alongside Brock Nelson (15 G – 44 A – 59 Pts). The first-line center is certainly due for more points than that, and there is reason to believe he will get them besides his history of success. Islander fans were greeted with a rare treat when Mat joined Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek for a brief conversation about his summer and his thoughts on the upcoming season. Barzy made it clear that he not only looks forward to the fresh start under Lambert’s command, but that he is interested in staying on the Island long-term (RFA at the end of this season). He even had some lovely things to say about New York, enjoying daily rounds of golf and Italian dinners throughout his time off. Barzal will be looking to cement his place in the conversation for best forwards in the league this year, and with his skill and accumulating experience, I have no reason to doubt him.
Noah Dobson (D) – Noah Dobson will be a solid defenseman to pick up semi-early in the draft. Despite his breakout season last year (51 Pts, 190 SOG), he may still go undetected by a lot of fantasy teams (especially those who don’t follow hockey or the Islanders too intensely). There is no reason to believe he is going to slow down, as he has improved consistently over time. Dobby is grown up, and after signing a new 3-yr deal worth $12 mil., he will be ready to prove that he has properly earned our trust.
Anders Lee (LW) – This Minnesota native has played an integral role in the Islander’s offense, supporting Barzal from the wing and maintaining a fairly steady flow of points. Although he may be prone to a droughts, he consistently finishes amongst the highest scorers on the team. You can always find him in front of the net battling for loose pucks and taking advantage of his strength to score. If this team can reignite the offense, he will be a major part of it.
Brock Nelson (C) – Finishing last season with a career-high in both points and goals (37 G – 22 A – 59 Pts), Brock Nelson continues to maintain his average pace, but with slightly more pep in his step. It almost felt like a waste for him to have scored as many goals as he did in a year that fell apart from the start. But of course, goals are high in demand for this team and never taken for granted. If he can ride this offensive spark into the new year, he may prove to be a valuable piece to your roster toward the end of the draft.
Ilya Sorokin (G) – Ilya Sorokin is absolutely at the top of the list for goaltenders. He finished last season with a .925 save percentage and 7 shutouts for an Islanders team that play stellar in front of him. Even if you’re someone who doesn’t utilize their goalies too often (such as myself), you may want to have this guy in the line-up, especially if the Islanders are on a hot streak. If this team can give him a chance, he will be winning a lot of games this season.
There are other players on this team that could be potential post-draft steals when you need someone to replace a player that is underperforming. Guys like Bellows, Palmieri, Bailey, Pageau, and Beauvillier may still be able to supplement your scoring if they can play closer to their point ceiling.
Whether your roster includes some Islanders or not, we wish you luck in the upcoming fantasy hockey season!
PLAYER PROPS and O/U
SOG – Welcome so SOG City! Shots-on-Goal is my personal favorite thing to bet on for hockey, as scores and money lines are so often scrambled. If posts counted, I’d be a millionaire by now, but alas, I’m sure many others would be, too. Consider looking at Dobson, Nelson, Barzal, and Lee. They finished in this respective ranking for total shots last season, but 8 different Islanders averaged at least 2 shots per game: Dobson, Nelson, Barzal, Lee, Wahlstrom, Palmieri, Beauvillier, and Pulock. If the young guys get more ice time, as well, Wahlstrom and Bellows could become more valid options. Otherwise, you may want to be cautious about choosing players on the second half of this list, as they are less consistent shooters.
Points – I honestly wouldn’t focus too much on choosing Islanders to score points in a given game. But if you pay enough attention to matchups over the year, you might be able to figure out when the high-scoring games will be played, and who can perform the best against a particular opponent. Dobson, Lee, and Barzal might be the only players I consider for this stat. Lee and Barzal play well with each other and share points on each others’ goals. Dobson was one of the highest-ranking defensemen in the league in a number of stats last season. Take advantage of his power play role!
O/U – The Islanders are a decent option for betting the under, at least based on the Trotz system. It is hard to imagine that will change much under Lambert, but at the same time that is what we are hoping for! We also have a scary ability to look like we’ve never played hockey before and let up 6 or 7 goals against a team like the Panthers or the Canes. I would urge caution with this line, as well, but lean towards the under until proven otherwise.
The Islanders certainly don’t stand out as an obvious choice for players to gamble on, but those who watch closely enough can pick their spots with relative accuracy. That goes for both the fantasy leagues and the parlays! Pay attention to matchups and hot streaks, and you’ll find plenty of success on this roster.