Mathew Barzal of the New York Islanders controls the puck against...

Mathew Barzal of the New York Islanders controls the puck against the Washington Capitals at UBS Arena on Jan. 16, 2023. Credit: Jim McIsaac

P.K. Subban played for the Devils the past three seasons, so the former NHL defenseman got an up-close, intra-division look at the Islanders, including the two Islanders teams that reached the NHL semifinals.

Now that he is an ESPN analyst, what does he think is wrong with the fast-fading team from Long Island?

In short, he said, “They’re too slow right now.”

“I like their team, but the way the league is going now, it’s a young league,” Subban said on Thursday in response to a question from Newsday on a video news conference to promote ESPN’s coverage of NHL All-Star Weekend. “It’s all about speed. And if you can’t play the game fast or check fast, you’re going to have trouble. You’re not going to be playing with the puck a whole lot.

“I think that for the Islanders, I’d still like to see them get a guy in their top six that can play with [Mathew] Barzal that can kind of ride shotgun with him. I think they’ve been missing that for a few years. I’d like to see that.”

Despite the Islanders’ recent slump, including a six-game losing streak, Subban said he does believe “they’ve got some pieces there. It’s just like, how can you implement more speed into your lineup?

“They have guys like [Brock] Nelson that can play with speedier players. But they’re too slow right now. I watch them play and they’re just slow to pucks, they’re slow to check, and the game now has changed so much.

“So they’re going to have to make their lineup a little bit faster, I think, to be able to compete over a regular season and get into the playoffs.”

Earlier, in his answer to a question about facing the Islanders, Subban said, “I thought that in the East a few years ago, I thought they were just going to be a tough team to beat in the playoffs. They had so much depth throughout their lineup there.

“That fourth line with [Cal] Clutterbuck, [Matt] Martin and [Casey] Cizikas was just a tough line to play that could score goals, they could play up and down. I mean, they were their fourth line, but they almost acted like the third or second line some nights when those [top-line] guys couldn’t get going.”

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