Islanders fan survey results: Your thoughts on the Trotz firing, potential trades and more

Now that the dust has settled on the Islanders’ coaching change, and with what could be a newsworthy remainder of the offseason on the horizon, we figured it was a good time to solicit some opinions on the state of the team from our readership here.

Some of the results were lopsided, while others were much more split — particularly the trade proposals we presented. Nearly 2,000 of you filled out our 20-question survey. So let’s dig in.

Did you agree with the decision to fire coach Trotz?

Not much of a surprise here. Barry Trotz had become a very popular figure among the fan base for good reason, taking the Islanders to back-to-back league semifinals before this season’s disappointing campaign. Many of you wish he was still here.

Regardless of what you think about the Trotz firing, do you believe Lambert was the right choice to replace him?

On a more hopeful note for the organization, the vast majority of you are pleased with the promotion of Lane Lambert. That’s probably not too surprising, as Lambert was alongside Trotz for the previous decade and was viewed around the league as an assistant that was ready to take the next step. The 57-year-old will be the man in charge behind the bench for the first time in his career when the 2022-23 season gets underway in October.

Who was the Islanders’ 2021-22 MVP?

I was a bit surprised that Ilya Sorokin garnered as much of the vote as he did, frankly. Yes, he was outstanding, and he’ll be the guy between the pipes on opening night, but he still only played in 52 games.

Had this been a media vote, like the PHWA handles the major NHL awards, Nelson would have been the guy at the top of my list. He was far and away the Islanders’ best skater over the second half, reaching a new career high in goals with 37 while centering the top line. I probably would have had Sorokin second, followed by Pelech, who was the Islanders’ lone All-Star and had a much more consistent season than Dobson, who really only emerged over the final few months.

How confident are you that Lamoriello can make the necessary adjustments this offseason to make the Islanders a Cup contender?

Very confidant

11.5%

Somewhat confidant

58.9%

Not confidant

29.6%

Lou Lamoriello has been the target of some ire from the fan base for firing Trotz and constructing a roster that wasn’t good enough this season, but still, more than seven out of 10 of you have at least some confidence in the veteran general manager to make things right. This is a good example of how the loudest voices on social media and in comments sections don’t always reflect the majority opinion.

How confident are you that the Islanders will make the playoffs next season?

Very confidant

31.2%

Somewhat confidant

55.4%

Not confidant

13.4%

On a related note, many of you are still confident that the Islanders will qualify for the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs. That also speaks to the confidence that many still have in Lamoriello, as he’ll have some work to do this offseason to make this roster more competitive.

What is your opinion of the Identity Line, which will likely still be intact when next season begins?

past its prime

65.5%

Can still be effective

34.5%

When the Islanders re-signed Cal Clutterbuck to a two-year extension, it was an indication that they believe his line with Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas can still be effective. It appears that Islanders management has more faith in that trio than the fan base, though, which views the three over-30-year-olds as past their primes — at least when they play together.

For the record, in 44 games together this season, the Identity Line was outscored 10-7 during five-on-five play, had a 48.4 shot-attempt percentage, and a positive expected goals rate of 51.5 percent, according to Natural Stat Trick .

What would you do with Varlamov, who has one year remaining on his contract at a $5 million cap hit?

Keep him as the No. 2 goalie next season

42.1%

Attempt to trade him to free up salary cap space

57.9%

Trading Semyon Varlamov has been a hot topic ever since the Islanders fell out of playoff contention midway through the season. A healthy debate can be had as to whether Varlamov, now entrenched as the No. 2 goalie behind Sorokin, is a luxury (and an expensive one) or a necessity in today’s NHL, where a pair of solid goalies is necessary to have success .

The Islanders have seemed to indicate that they view Varlamov as a piece that should stay, but other offseason moves might determine whether they can afford to keep him in the fold.

Barzal is eligible to sign a long-term contract extension this summer as a pending RFA in 2023. How should the organization approach his next deal?

Attempt to sign him to a long term extension now

85.0%

Wait until next summer

15.0%

This was one of the most lopsided questions of the 20 we asked. Mathew Barzal was adamant on breakup day that he wanted to stay with the Islanders for the rest of his career, and that seems to be what the fan base wants, too.

Dobson is a pending restricted free agent. How should the organization approach its next deal?

Sign him to a shorter-termbridge deal

27.4%

Lock him up long term

72.6%

It’s fair to say that most of you want Noah Dobson to be locked up right away, but about a quarter of you are not completely sold yet on the young, emerging defenseman. Dobson is a restricted free agent, and the Islanders will want to get him signed one way or another soon to avoid the possibility that he signs an offer sheet somewhere else.

Do you expect Bailey to still be with the Islanders on 2022-23 Opening Night?

It’s very possible that the longest-tenured Islanders player could be involved in one of the upcoming “hockey deals” that Lamoriello has plainly stated are coming. The 32-year-old has two years remaining on his contract with a $5 million salary-cap hit and no trade restrictions, and he could very well be targeted by a team that’s looking to add a little more depth to its forward group.

Should the Islanders re-sign Chara to a one-year, league-minimum deal?

Should the Islanders re-sign Greene to a one-year, league-minimum deal?

It seems unlikely that veteran defensemen Zdeno Chara and Andy Greene will return to the Islanders, and despite both players having sterling reputations as teammates and as men, the large majority of the fan base is ready for them both to hang up their skates. If there’s one part of the Islanders’ game that has to improve next season, it’s that the defense group has to play a faster game. Neither Chara nor Greene is able to do that anymore.

Would you trade the Islanders’ 2022 first and Raty to Minnesota in exchange for Fiala, assuming the Islanders would then sign Fiala long-term?

Would you trade the Islanders’ 2022 first and Beauvillier to Arizona in exchange for Chychrun?

The aim of these two trade proposals for players that the Islanders may very well target was to come up with something that was both realistic and, in my opinion, fair for both sides.

We already explored the possibility of a Kevin Fiala trade earlier this month, because he seems like just the kind of player that the Islanders’ forward group is lacking. The 13th overall pick and Aatu Raty, the top forward prospect in the organization, would be a hefty price, but it’s one that most of you — barely — would be willing to pay.

A slightly larger majority of you were pleased with our prospective deal of Anthony Beauvillier and the first for defenseman Jakob Chychrun, who would presumably slot in on the left side of Dobson to give the Islanders a formidable top four for the foreseeable future. Frankly, a defense core of Dobson, Chychrun, Pelech and Pulock would have to be viewed as one of the best in the NHL.

Which pending UFA winger would you most like to see on the Islanders?

Other names submitted: Ondrej Palat, Valeri Nichushkin, Mason Marchment, Nick Paul, Julien Gauthier, Reilly Smith, Nino Niederreiter, Frank Vatrano, Vincent Trocheck

No surprise here, as Gaudreau and Forsberg are the two best free-agent forwards available and are both young enough to contribute for several more seasons. I thought a guy like Copp might get a few more votes, if only because the Islanders signing him would also prevent him from going back to the Rangers, but I guess not.

How would you rate the game experience at UBS Arena?

Outstanding

25.8%

Very Good

28.1%

Average

4.7%

belowaverage

0.7%

Poor

0.6%

I haven’t been to a game there

40.1%

The Islanders just completed their first season in their new building, and even though the team struggled to win consistently on the ice, it was mostly at or near capacity throughout the 41-game home slate. Of the roughly 1,200 of you who have been to a game, only 2 percent had a negative impression.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the Islanders’ prospect pool?

The Islanders’ prospect pool isn’t thought to be very deep. The fact that they haven’t had a top 10 pick since 2014 and didn’t have a first-round pick in 2021 or 2020 is surely part of the reason. The team, and its fan base, are going to have to hope that someone under the radar emerges over the next few years.

What was the primary reason the Islanders underachieved this season?

Circumstances beyond their control

57.0%

Roster construction

34.3%

Coaching

1.7%

other

7.0%

Other culprits submitted: Schedule, new arena opening, lack of offense, age, roster got stale, lack of speed, lack of puck-moving ability, injuries, burnout from past two postseasons, lazy players, 141 combined games of Chara and Greene.

The Islanders having to endure so many circumstances out of their control — a long road trip to start the season, the unfamiliarity of a new home, having to play through a COVID-19 outbreak, and playing the most compacted schedule of any team in the NHL in the second half — was a factor in their disappointing campaign. That said, their roster was probably not good enough to go on a deep run, anyway.

And, related to our first question here, hardly anyone blamed the coaching staff.

Do you agree or disagree with the way Trotz handled Wahlstrom this season?

Approved

17.4%

Disagree

54.1%

Undecided

28.5%

The Trotz-Oliver Wahlstrom relationship was a hot-button topic for most of the season. Trotz seemed to never miss an opportunity to criticize the young winger in his media availability and often kept him stapled to the bench after a mistake, and Wahlstom struggled to find his consistency on the ice when he was given an opportunity to play a bigger role.

While many of you wished Trotz was still the coach, relatively few of you thought he handled Wahlstrom the right way.

Of the following, which young Islanders player do you expect will have the biggest impact next season?

Safe to say most of you still believe in the 11th overall pick from the 2018 draft. Provided he doesn’t get moved this offseason, the forward taking another step next season might go a long way in helping the Islanders get more consistent offense. Salo could also get a chance to play more regular minutes next season, especially if Chara and Greene are both done.

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