Ah, August… a time when there’s, uh, not too much happening in the hockey world. And since the Islanders have been quite silent this summer, there hasn’t been really much to write about either. So taking some inspiration from Alison Lukan and Aaron Portzline from The Athletic, I thought it would be a fun exercise to cobble together a group that represents the all decade Islanders team.
The criteria of this team is fairly simple. All players who dressed for one Islander game from the 2009-2010 season through the 2018-2019 season are eligible. Playoff performance is taken into account, but the primary driver is through regular season play. Each position will have the appropriate amount of players as you’d see on a roster, so there will be four centers, three left defensemen, two goalies, etc. However, some honorable mention shoutouts are certainly in order.
This is also meant to be more of an “All-Star” exercise. In other words, the Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck line isn’t just going to be stamped together on a fourth line, despite their reputation and successes together throughout the decade.,
All in all, this is just meant for some fun discussion as we enter the dog days of the summer - so don’t take this too seriously!
So without further adieu, here’s the 2010s Islanders All Decade Team.
John Tavares (2009-2018): Perhaps still a sore subject around these parts, it would be literally impossible to not include Tavares on this team. Before leaving for Toronto after the 2017-18 season, Tavares played 669 games for the Islanders with a point total output of 272-349-621. He was a two-time Hart Trophy finalist, five-time All-Star, and the center on the 2014-15 First All-Star team. His playoff performance was just as strong, as Tavares put up 22 points in 24 games including two overtime goals, one of which sent the Islanders to the second round for the first time in over 20 years.
Mathew Barzal (2016-Present): “The Kid Who Won the Calder” came into the league full-time during the 2017-18 season and shot out of the gate, producing 85 points in 82 games. He took a step back from a production standpoint during the 2018-19 season, but rebounded with 7 points in 8 playoff games. In terms of accolades, Barzal already has a few as the winner of the 2018 Calder Trophy, an All-Star in 2019. More intangibly, he has a firm lock as the new face of the Islanders franchise going forward.
Frans Nielsen (2006-2016): Just coming into his own at the turn of the decade, Nielsen was a stable presence in the Islanders lineup as the team went from rebuilding fodder to one of the better NHL teams during the middle portion of the decade. He was largely tasked as a second line center during his time on the Island, playing understudy to John Tavares’ star. Still, he was pretty productive, as the shootout star appeared in 516 games for the Islanders during the decade with a point total of 107-204-311 during that span.
Brock Nelson (2013-Present): The Islanders traded up during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft to select Nelson, and the returns have proved them right ever since. Nelson made his debut in Game 6 of the 2013 playoff series against Pittsburgh and has been a lineup fixture ever since. In his six seasons on the Island, Nelson has a production output line of 124-117-241 in 480 games and just signed a 6-year extension with New York.
Honorable Mentions: Casey Cizikas (2012-Present), Ryan Strome (2013-2017)
Anders Lee (2013-Present): Left wing was a fairly weak position for New York during this decade, but there’s no question who the best of the best is. Anders Lee made his debut during the shortened 2012-13 season, becoming a full time NHLer in 2014-15. Named captain as the 2018-19 season began, Lee has appeared in 425 games for the team, scoring 152 goals (including a 40 goal season) and adding 106 assists. Off the ice, his work to raise money for cancer is admirable. And of course, he just signed a 7-year extension with the club in a pretty epic manner, as well.
Matt Moulson (2009-2013): A close friend of John Tavares, Matt Moulson was a fixture on the Isles’ top line for quite a few years, despite initially getting brought in as a depth signing before the 2009-10 season. In his three full 82-game seasons with the Islanders, Moulson scored 30 goals each season and garnered votes for the year end NHL All-Star team twice. Moulson played 304 games for the Islanders, scoring 118 goals and adding 105 assists before being traded for Thomas Vanek in October 2013.
Michael Grabner (2010-2015): Claimed off waivers before the 2010-11 season, Grabner turned out to be a steady piece for the Isles for five seasons. He shot out of a cannon (literally, with his speed) scoring 34 goals his rookie year on his way to a Calder Trophy nomination. After that, the injuries started to hit, which slowed him down for a few years. However, he did score 90 goals for the Isles and his time is fondly remembered as one of the more exciting players to come through Long Island during the decade.
Anthony Beauvillier (2016-Present): A surprising addition to the 2016-17 roster, the extremely personable winger has already played 218 games for the Isles, scoring 48 goals during that time. He’s best been used on a line with Mathew Barzal, specifically during the 2017-18 season when he scored 21 goals. And, always a plus, it’s unclear if anyone actually enjoys scoring at the Nassau Coliseum more than Beauvillier.
Honorable Mentions: Nikolay Kulemin (2014-18), Blake Comeau (2006-2012), Matt Martin (2010-16; 2018-19)
Josh Bailey (2008-Present): At the beginning of the decade, it would be kind of crazy to envision Josh Bailey in this spot. But after three straight 50 point seasons, including an All-Star 71 point 2017-18 season, Bailey’s earned it. Committing to the Isles long-term during the 2017-18 campaign, Bailey has played a ridiculous 729 games during this ten year stretch, scoring 133 goals and adding 275 assists. His 408 points and his 17 playoff points both rank second behind John Tavares for the decade. Notably, he added an overtime goal in Game 1 of the 2019 playoffs against Pittsburgh.
Kyle Okposo (2010-2016): One of the big time recent fan favorites, Kyle Okposo was one of the core leaders throughout the first half of the decade. Okposo appeared in 455 games this decade going 119-206-325 during that stretch. He also contributed 15 points in 24 playoff games, including a monster series against Pittsburgh in 2013. Despite being allowed to walk after the 2016 playoffs, Okposo’s last stretch with the Islanders was impressive as he put up 8 points in 11 games during that final run.
Jordan Eberle (2017-Present): Acquired by the Islanders for Ryan Strome during the summer of 2017, Jordan Eberle has been an extremely solid contributor during his two seasons on the Island. He’s appeared in 159 games for New York, scoring 44 goals and adding 52 assists - including a 59 point season alongside Mathew Barzal in 2017-18. Eberle also chipped in 9 points in 8 playoff games, scoring a goal in each of the four Isles wins against Pittsburgh in 2019.
P.A. Parenteau (2010-2012): There were some lean years at the beginning of the decade for the Islanders, but P.A. Parenteau was always one of the bright spots. Never a “name brand” kind of player, Parenteau was the playmaker on strong top line alongside Matt Moulson and John Tavares, ultimately producing 120 points in 161 games. Garth Snow had a few low-risk, high-reward successes, and there’s no question Parenteau was one of them.
Honorable Mentions: Cal Clutterbuck (2013-Present), Colin McDonald (2012-2015)
Nick Leddy (2014-Present): Acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks just before the start of the 2014-15 season, Nick Leddy has become a long-term fixture on the Isles’ defense. A smooth skater and puck mover, Leddy has now appeared in 402 games for the Isles, with a 40-151-191 output. He’s also added 10 points in 26 playoff games for New York.
Mark Streit (2008-2013): The former Islanders captain left as a free agent after the 2013 season, but his time on the Island was memorable. One of the best power play quarterbacks the Isles have had in years, Streit played 212 games for the Isles this decade, scoring 24 goals and adding 99 assists. His best year with New York preceded the decade, but he should be widely remembered as one of the most successful free agent signings in team history.
Thomas Hickey (2013-Present): It was tough to choose between Thomas Hickey and Calvin de Haan for this spot, but I ultimately went Hickey for a few reasons. Hickey has played 449 games for the Islanders this decade, scoring 22 goals and adding 93 assists. He was part of one of the best pairings of the decade alongside Lubomir Visnovsky. And in 2016, he scored a huge overtime goal against the Florida Panthers in Game 3. Not an overly flashy player, he’s been a stabilizing presence on the Isles’ defense for many years, so he (narrowly) gets the nod.
Honorable Mentions: Calvin de Haan (2011-2018), Andrew MacDonald (2008-2014)
Travis Hamonic (2010-2017): Hamonic debuted due to injuries early in the 2010-11 season and never saw the AHL again. Playing seven years for the Islanders, “Hammer” was a horse for the Isles averaging over 20 minutes per game for the entirety of his tenure. He was eventually traded to Calgary after the 2016-17 season, but over his tenure he scored 26 goals and added 120 assists in his 444 games. Off the ice, Hamonic ingratiated himself immensely in the community working with grieving families, and his commitment there remains practically unmatched.
Johnny Boychuk (2014-Present): In the span of about five months, the Islanders and Johnny Boychuk committed to each other for the long term. Acquired on the same day as Nick Leddy, Boychuk immediately gave the Islanders’ defense legitimate credibility as they moved from a perennial loser to a bona fide playoff team. Boychuk’s pairing alongside Leddy remains the most prominent of the decade, best exemplified by his work against Alex Ovechkin in the 2015 playoffs. He’s now played 340 games for the Isles, scoring 33 goals and adding 87 assists.
Ryan Pulock (2016-Present): This was another tough call when paired against Lubomir Visnovsky, but Ryan Pulock’s breakout season pushes him over the edge and onto the all-decade team. I certainly admit there’s some recency bias there, but the top pairing role that Pulock has earned under Barry Trotz is a big differentiator. The 24 year old has now played in 166 games but already has 21 goals and 52 points, including 4 playoff points in 14 games highlighted by a huge goal in the aforementioned Game 3 against Florida.
Honorable Mentions: Lubomir Visnovsky (2012-2015), Scott Mayfield (2016-Present)
Jaroslav Halak (2014-2018): At times it was a rocky tenure with New York, but Jaroslav Halak was the first objectively stable presence in net for the Islanders since Rick DiPietro’s prime. Halak started 170 games in his four years, winning 88 of them while compiling a .913 save percentage. His best year was his first, as his 38 wins set an Islanders record that still holds up today. He was incredibly strong against Washington in the 2015 playoffs, putting up a .926 save percentage despite ultimately seeing the team lose the series in seven games.
Thomas Greiss (2016-Present): The 2015-16 Islanders goalie tandem was the reason the team fared so well, so I’d be remiss to leave Thomas Greiss off this squad. Like most goalies who are around a while, there have been some peaks and valleys. But ultimately, Greiss has been just as good as Halak - he’s started 151 games in his four seasons and won 85 of them. He has a .916 save percentage with the team. And during the playoffs, Greiss was quite strong in 2016, as he helped lead the team to a series win while putting up a .923 save percentage in 11 games.
Honorable Mention: Evgeni Nabokov (2011-2014)