Having watched the Islanders play virtually every home game in person this past season — and by television for road games — The Maven will point out key areas to address:
1. DEFENSE: Following the injury to Calvin de Haan, the Isles blue line suffered mightily. While Lou Lamoriello finds ways and means to beef up the blue line, Trotz must implement an overall system to significantly cut down goals against. Too often, opponents shot the puck into the Isles zone, beat the club’s defense to the puck and set up goal-scoring plays. It was done in abundance; often from the opening face-off. It can be cured and Barry will cure it.
2. DEFENSE TO OFFENSE: Launching offense from the defense was a special issue that often foiled the forwards hoping to catapult to the enemy zone. They needed passes faster than they received them. How to speed movement from the back line to the front line will be essential.
3. GOALTENDING: It’s a given that Jaroslav Halak won’t be back. That puts the challenge on Lamoriello to obtain the best possible goal-mate for Thomas Greiss. When that’s done Trotz has to deduce a one-two rotation that works better than we’ve seen in the past two seasons. Barry very likely will be seeking a goaltending coach to handle this assignment.
4. OFFENSE PLAYING DEFENSE: Scouts have told The Maven what I had been seeing all along; that is, Islanders forwards not doing due-diligence when it came to backchecking. Thus, extra work was placed on an already over-worked defense corps. A change for the better can be anticipated.
5. FACE-OFFS: Frankly, I’m less interested in the stats than what I saw with my own eyes over two seasons; the need for better strategic face-off wins; specifically on the penalty-kill and the power play. Too often on the PP, the face-off was lost and the puck deposited into the Isles end, thereby disrupting a good start. Ditto for the PK; face-off lost and opposition sets up for what sometimes turned into a siege.
6. POWER PLAY: The elements have been there but the meshing of gears was not up to sufficiently exploiting man-advantage situations. A new PP guru could be the answer.
7. IMPROVING THE YOUNG TURKS: Mat Barzal‘s season culminated with the well-deserved Calder Trophy. The clever center is fast becoming the face of this team. But what about Josh Ho-Sang, who’s loaded with talent but was discarded to the AHL when his assets could have been exploited in the homestretch. Under Trotz, Ho-Sang could thrive. It’s up to Barry to extract the plusses and erase The Kid’s minuses.
8. CAMARADERIE: No matter how you shake it, Trotz’s Caps won The Cup partly because of extra-special teamsmanship, led by captain Alex Ovechkin but with Trotz orchestrating the symphony. Now, Barry must apply that technique to his new assignment.
9. GETTING MORE FROM THE BOTTON SIX: Andrew Ladd is capable of more production. The fourth line — including Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas — could use a better third man. Trotz did wonders extracting better play from this Bottom Six in Washington. It was a key to the club’s Cup win. Now the challenge comes in Brooklyn-Uniondale.
NOTEWORTHY ABSENCE: I see no point discussing John Tavares‘ future since that will be decided in a short time. That said, bringing in Trotz enhances the possibility that the captain will return; as many, many others have noted.