The New York Islanders haven’t made the Stanley Cup Final since 1984 after making it for five consecutive years. However, a former Islander or perhaps a few former Islanders will raise the Stanley Cup this year. The Stanley Cup Final will begin on May 29th in Pittsburgh where the Pittsburgh Penguins will face the Nashville Predators. For the Penguins, this will be their fifth appearance in the finals as they look to be the first team to win back-to-back Cups since the Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. For the Nashville Predators, they made it to the Conference Finals for the first time in their franchise’s history and so this will be their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final. The Isles will be well represented at this year’s final. Here is a list of the former Islanders participating and why you should want them to win…
Mark Streit, Pittsburgh Penguins:
Former Islander captain Mark Streit has been a member of the Penguins ever since he was involved in a three-team trade during this year’s deadline. The 39 year old veteran defenseman has often been a healthy scratch throughout these playoffs after being traded for. During his few appearances – all during the Eastern Conference Finals – he has proven he can still play and play at a very high level. Streit has played games three, five, and six off the Ottawa series, picking up two assists in the process. Streit made his way to New York via free agency in the summer of 2008, signing a five-year deal worth $20.5 million. Before signing with the Islanders, Streit spent three seasons with the Montreal Canadiens and he put up 62 points in his final year. In his first season with the Isles, Streit led the team in scoring with 56 points (16 goals, 40 assists). Streit followed that up with a 49 point season in 2009-2010 but then sat out all of 2010-2011 campaign after tearing his shoulder labrum and rotator cuff during a scrimmage. Streit returned for the 2011-2012 season and was named captain, taking over for now head coach of the Isles, Doug Weight. Streit once again put up solid offensive numbers, scoring 47 points which is pretty impressive considering he is a defenseman. During the lockout-shortened season, Streit had 27 points in 48 games and helped his team get into the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-2007 season. The team put up a pretty impressive effort against the heavily-favored and top-seeded Penguins and despite Streit’s two goals and three assists, the Isles would ultimately fall to Pittsburgh in six games. With his five year deal set to expire that summer, the Isles traded his rights to the Flyers where he signed a four-year deal. In his final year of the deal, this year, he was traded at the deadline to the Lightning who flipped him less than an hour later to the Penguins.
Why You Should Root for Streit: Mark Streit did exactly what was expected of him when he signed with the Isles. His leadership was evident through his 292 games and his numbers were pretty impressive too with 42 goals and 142 assists (including playoffs) over that span (184 points). Pittsburgh may be a rival of the Isles but Streit may not have many more days in the NHL, this could be his last shot at a Stanley Cup, a trophy he well deserves.
PA Parenteau, Nashville Predators:
If you were to tell any Isles fan from July 2nd to early October 10th that PA Parenteau was going to play in the Stanley Cup Final, they’d be pretty excited. PA Parenteau played two seasons (2010-2012) with the Islanders, scoring 120 points (38 goals and 82 assists) through 161 games. As a right winger, Parenteau spent majority of his time on Long Island playing on the team’s first line centered by John Tavares with Matt Moulson at the left wing. After leaving the Isles via free agency, Parenteau failed to produce the offensive numbers he had with the Isles. However, Parenteau had a bounce back 2015-2016 season, scoring 20 goals and 21 assists through 77 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Last summer, Parenteau was a free agent and returned to New York on a very team-friendly 1-year deal worth $1.25 million. It was expected by many that Parenteau would be reunited on the team’s top line with John Tavares and newly signed free agent Andrew Ladd. For some reason, Parenteau never got to play on the top line or play with the Isles at all. On October 10th, the Islanders placed him on waivers in favor of younger players and keeping three goaltenders on their 23-man roster. Many saw this move as ridiculous as Parenteau was claimed off waivers the following day by the Isles’ Metropolitan Division rival, the New Jersey Devils. In 59 games with the Devils, Parenteau had 13 goals and 14 assists for a total of 27 points. During the Trade Deadline, he was traded to the Nashville Predators in exchange for a sixth-round pick. Parenteau had one assist through eight regular-season games with Nashville and is currently scoreless through three playoff games (one game in each of the three series). Those numbers would’ve put Parenteau ninth on the Isles in scoring, tied for sixth in goals, and 14th in assists. Now, at age 34, Parenteau finds himself in a unique situation. He and his newest team will have a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup.
Why You Should Root for Parenteau: While many critics will argue that Parenteau’s numbers while playing for the Isles were a result of playing alongside Tavares, points are points and goals are goals. 120 points through 161 games is no joke and Parenteau was a fan favorite while playing for the Isles through his two seasons and even his handful of preseason appearances this year. So why not root for a fan favorite while he tries to accomplish every hockey player’s dream?
Harry Zolnierczyk, Nashville Predators:
You might be asking yourself, “who?” after reading that name and if you’re an Isles fan that is somewhat understandable. The 29 year old has played 92 NHL games and 226 AHL games over his career (including playoffs). His NHL career kicked off during the 2010-2011 season with the Philadelphia Flyers, scoring three goals and three assists over 37 games. Up until this year, Zolnierczyk never saw more than 13 games in an NHL season following that 2010-11 season with the Flyers. During the summer of 2014, the Islanders signed Zolnierczyk on the opening day of the free agency to a one-year, two-way deal. Zolnierczyk spent majority of the season in Bridgeport with the Islanders’ AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers; he scored 18 goals and 26 assists (44 points) through 60 games. Injuries and his strong play earned Zolnierczyk a call-up on February 8th, 2015. That was the same day the Islanders were on the road to face the Buffalo Sabres and Zolnierczyk was in the lineup. Playing in his first NHL game since April 13th, 2014, Zolnierczyk had one shot on goal through 11:57 of ice time and 17 shifts. Zolnierczyk played in the team’s following game too, a home game against the Edmonton Oilers. Zolnierczyk played 10:18 and had 14 shifts during the game. Both games resulted in 3-2 Islander victories but despite this, Zolnierczyk was sent back down to Bridgeport shortly after. That summer he signed with the Anaheim Ducks’ organization, playing the whole season (with the exception of one NHL game) with their AHL affiliate. Then this past summer, he signed another one-year, two-way deal but this time with the Nashville Predators. Although Zolnierczyk played 24 games (six goals, 10 assists) with the Predators’ AHL affiliate (the Milwaukee Admirals), he spent equal time in the NHL. Zolnierczyk matched his 24 AHL games with 24 NHL games as he put up two goals and two assists in those games. He has appeared in eight games for Nashville this postseason, scoring against the Blackhawks in game two of the Preds’ first round matchup and added an assist in game three of the team’s second round matchup against the Blues.
Why You Should Root for Zolnierczyk: The Isles are 2-0-0 all-time when he’s in their lineup! In all seriousness, Zolnierczyk put up solid numbers in Bridgeport and is a good story to root for. He has been up and down throughout his career between the NHL and AHL and finally played a good amount of games at the NHL level for the fist time since 2011. He has played well throughout his eight playoff games and although he’s been a healthy scratch lately, we could see him back in the lineup soon.
Peter Laviolette, Nashville Predators:
He isn’t a player but Peter Laviolette is a former Islander. After leading the Providence Bruins to a Calder Cup Championship and being named AHL coach of the year, Laviolette got his first NHL coaching gig, assistant coach of the Boston Bruins. After one season of this, Laviolette left Boston in favor of a head coach position with the New York Islanders. Laviolette was somehow able to coach the Islanders to a 42-28-8-4 (no shootouts at this time so games resulted in ties following overtime, which is the third column of that record) and their first playoff appearance in seven years. Despite the 96 point regular-season, the Islanders fell to the Maple Leafs in seven games during their round one matchup. The following season the Islanders were able to make the playoffs yet again even with 83 points and a 35-34-11-2 record. The end result was the same, a first round exit; this time in five games to the Ottawa Senators. Despite bringing the Islanders to the playoffs for the first time in seven years and in both of his seasons behind the bench, he was –in my opinion, unfairly– fired by at-the-time Islanders’ General Manager Mike Milbury. Since then, Laviolette has coached three other NHL clubs. All three teams, including this year’s Nashville Predators who he began coaching in 2014, have made the Stanley Cup Final. Laviolette lost to the Blackhawks in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final with the Philadelphia Flyers and won the Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006. Now, Laviolette will look to win his second Stanley Cup and bring Nashville their first.
Why You Should Root for Laviolette: Peter Laviolette was fired from the Islanders when he really shouldn’t of been. It was one of many poor decisions made under Mike Milbury. He had Isles fans on his side while coaching two seasons and despite two first round exits, what’s not to like about a guy who can come behind the bench and guide the team to the playoffs for the first time in seven years?
Whether the Nashville Predators win their first Cup in franchise history or the Pittsburgh Penguins repeat as champs, a former Islander or a few former Islanders will raise the Stanley Cup this June. The question is which former Islander(s) will you be rooting for?