4. New York Islanders
Unfortunately, the New York Islanders rank rather high on our list. The Rangers crosstown rivals have acquired and developed a strong foundation on their back-end over the last few seasons.
The Islanders first pairing boasts two hard to play against defenders. Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy are among the league’s hardest working pairs, benefiting their team at both ends of the ice. The biggest sticking point in considering this an elite pairing has been their inability to stay healthy simultaneously over the course of an entire season.
The team’s second pair will undergo a rather dramatic change with the departure of Travis Hamonic to the Calgary Flames. Now, Thomas Hickey and Dennis Seidenberg are the elder members of their defensive group. With their abilities lacking, and in Seidenberg’s case declining rapidly, others must step.
Calvin de Haan will be asked to elevate his game again in order to propel the Islanders’ otherwise young defense. Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock, and Scott Mayfield are all competing for a full-time roster spot. Meanwhile Sebastian Aho has Islanders’ fans clamoring for an extended look.
The future may be bright for this Islanders group. However, they must prove that they can succeed with such youth in a tough Metro division.