New York Islanders Playoff Chances

ELMONT, NEW YORK - JANUARY 28: The New York Islanders celebrate a game-winning overtime goal by Mathew Barzal #13 (R) against the Vegas Golden Knights at the UBS Arena on January 28, 2023 in Elmont, New York. The Islanders defeated the Golden Knights 2-1 in overtime. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The New York Islanders and general manager Lou Lamoriello made a splash on the trade market Monday. The Isles traded forward Anthony Beauvillier, a 2023 first-round pick, and Finnish prospect Aatu Raty in exchange for Bo Horvat. A Horvat trade has been inevitable as the former Canucks captain was due for a hefty pay raise in the off-season. However, Horvat was projected to go to a contending team and the Islanders don’t appear to fit that bill. The Isles currently sit two points out of the final wild-card spot in the east, which the Pittsburgh Penguins hold. The Penguins, however, have three games in hand on the Islanders. This begs the question, is the addition of Bo Horvat enough to turn the Isles from a non-playoff team to a contender?

Islanders Playoff Chances Post Bo Horvat Addition

The Team

The Islanders have a solid roster and have slightly underperformed thus far. The team stems from goaltender Ilya Sorokin who is having a fantastic season. They also have a solid defence core with the likes of Noah Dobson, Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock, and recently acquired Alexander Romanov. Their offence has often been their demise as Mathew Barzal has too often been tasked with carrying it. Brock Nelson and Anders Lee are also solid options up front but after that, it falls off significantly. However, the addition of Bo Horvat should bolster that offence and relieve some pressure off of those three. The Isles have a good team and one that has the ability to make the playoffs. Beyond that, however, may be a tall task.

Embed from Getty Images

The Chase

As stated, the Islanders are chasing the pack as they sit outside the playoffs heading into the All-Star break. The Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils have all but solidified the top two berths in the Metro while the New York Rangers sit comfortably in third. If the Isles hope to land themselves in the playoffs it will likely have to come in the form of a wild-card berth. The Penguins have games in hand on them but the Washington Capitals who sit three points ahead of the Isles, do not. With the addition of Horvat, the Islanders improve their playoff chances and have a realistic shot at claiming a wild-card berth over the Capitals. However, don’t count out the Buffalo Sabres either, who sit one point out and have been heating up as of late.

Eastern Conference Playoff Picture

If they do in theory make the playoffs, the Islanders will still be in tough once they get there. A wild-card spot sets them up for a likely date with the Boston Bruins or Carolina in the first round. Both teams look like real cup contenders and both are deeper than the Islanders. The only place the Islanders may have an edge on these powerhouse teams is in goal with Ilya Sorokin. Although if Linus Ullmark continues his historic year, even that won’t be the case. However, even if they manage to slay one dragon, the Eastern Conference is so deep this season that the Islanders will have a tough road still.

With the addition of Bo Horvat, the Islanders have the boost they need to potentially squeak into the playoffs with a solid second half. The Sabres, Capitals, and Penguins are all within reach for them. However, even if they do make the playoffs, the Islanders likely aren’t contenders this season. The Eastern Conference is simply too good this year for the Isles to make it out alive. Barring a miraculous Conn Smythe showing from Ilya Sorokin, the Eastern Conference will prove too tough for the Islanders. So to put it simply, Bo Horvat boosts the Islanders’ playoff chances, but not their cup hopes.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images