There’s something we tend to forget in the discussion around the desirability of playing for the New York Islanders and it’s the region itself. The Islanders are actually a big market team.

We found out thanks to the Athletic’s (subscription required) Aaron Portzline that pending free agent Artemi Panarin has the New York Islanders on his short list of teams he wouldn’t mind playing for. That’s fantastic.

The New York Islanders made the list along with the New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, and Dallas Stars.

When looking at that shortlist two things are clear: (1) Artemi Panarin want’s to play in a big American market and if that isn’t possible (2) he’d like to not pay state income tax. So how do the New York Islanders fit into either category? And what’s the draw?

Bigger Than You Think

The New York Islanders play in the New York Metropolitan area. New York is the second largest market in North America and the largest market in the NHL. While the Islanders might not actually play in New York, they’re still a short distance from the city and that’s a big deal.

That link clearly means something to Panarin.

Long Island offers players the ability to have their cake and eat it too. Direct access to the largest city in the US, while simultaneously having the ability to be completely anonymous when you chose.

Sure the 7.5 million people on Long Island haven’t always packed wherever the Islanders happen to play over the last few decades. But can you blame them for that? There have been a number of issues facing the Islanders over the years not to mention very few winning seasons.

With a hockey first arena and a few winning seasons that can change. That 7.5 million Long Island population ranks it as the second largest population base in the NHL.

What’s the Draw?

New York can’t be the only reason Artemi Panarin see’s the Islanders like a good fit. If all he wanted was a big market he could have included Anaheim who are as close to Los Angeles as the Isles practice facility is to the Barclays Center.

There has to be more too it. Playing with Mathew Barzal has to be one reason. In Columbus, Panarin is the lone star up top. Yes, Columbus has two of the better defensemen in the league with Seth Jones and Zach Werenski, but going forward it starts and ends with Panarin.

Give him a top tier center to play with and his 82 points from last year can jump into the 90’s or even higher.

Adding to the appeal of Barzal has to be the New York Islanders new world-class management and world-class coaching, and owners who are willing to pay players. Not to say that Columbus can’t pay their players, but previous Islanders owners weren’t known for their deep pockets.

Next: Five Worst Isles Player Personnel Decisions Ever

The New York Islanders are seemingly able to use their geography as an asset. The state of the franchise hasn’t yet stabilized, but it’s taken big leaps in the few months since Lou has taken over.


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