New York Islanders: The Thomas Greiss career revival tour continues

New York Islanders. Thomas Greiss (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
New York Islanders. Thomas Greiss (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

For as great a story Robin Lehner has been, the New York Islanders still have one goalie on their team who has been solid too and he has been here a while in Thomas Greiss. Here is how his career revival tour continues.

Had it been this time one year ago for the New York Islanders and Thomas Greiss, this would not even be a story. Greiss would not even be a player worth talking about.

This year, much like the rest of his New York Islander teammates, one of Long Island’s net minders, is having a career revival.

This season, Thomas Greiss is having a career season. Since his arrival with the blue and orange in 2015-2016, he has been the de-facto backup. Not once in his Islanders tenure, and never in his entire NHL career spanning back to 2007-2008 season, has he played in more than 51 games. He has never started in more than 49.

Just how creative can the Islanders get with a Robin Lehner contract extension?. light. Must Read

So, no team, he also played for San Jose, Arizona, and Pittsburgh, or no Islanders coach, whether it be Jack Capuano, Doug Weight, or even Barry Trotz has really considered Greiss as the true number one.

His best season is perhaps his second on the Island when he played in 51 games and was the number one guy, if that title has to be given. But, it has not been his best season as an Islander statistically.

That season would be in the aforementioned 2015-2016 season where he had a 2.36 GAA, a .925 save percentage, and was solid enough for 26 wins.

All of those stats stand as his current career highs as an Islander. However, he is still likely on pace to beat all of those numbers this season. While he has just 16 wins, at the rate he is playing maybe he could top that 26.

However, in almost every other category, if things right now hold, he could earn new career highs in, goals against and GAA. He is right behind in pace for games played and save percentage.

But, this story does not begin with how well he is playing this season. Yeah, he has been more than reliable along with Lehner, but his story starts with last season.

Let’s paint the picture. The Islanders went into last season having missed the playoffs after having finally won a playoff series the year before that.

Doug Weight, who had spent the season before as the interim head coach and almost turned around the mess Jack Capuano left behind, was the full-time head coach.

Well, as we know, things did not go the Islanders’ way. They were terrible. They finished last season missing the playoffs for the second straight season and allowing the most goals in the entire NHL last year.

While that is not a direct reflection of Greiss, because clearly he is showing how solid he could be in the right system, Greiss did not exactly stop the bleeding between the pipes.

Splitting much of his time with Jaroslav Halak, and sort of with Christopher Gibson, because who could forget that, Greiss ended last season with 25 starts, a 3.82 goals against average, a .892 save percentage, and 95 goals allowed.

To point it bluntly, he didn’t have a great year. He was getting bombarded every game and his 13 wins last season is an outlier because the Islanders scored more for him, for whatever reason.

So, the fact that it looked Greiss could never be a reliable goalie, after all he was two years removed from playing well in the playoffs. It just looked like he was never going to be the guy, or even a guy.

Then, the unthinkable happened. The Islanders actually got sick of the losing of and did something about it. That is where Barry Trotz and Mitch Korn come in, but we are currently living this story.

Thomas Greiss is not only having a career revival, he is has some of the better numbers in the league. Just because Robin Lehner is having a career year too, does not make Greiss’ any less impressive. It’s not his fault he is not even the best goalie on his team.

But, here is where Greiss ranks in the league amongst qualified goalies. He ranks third in goals against, third in save percentage, and is tied for third in shutouts with three.

One of only two people above him in those stats is Robin Lehner. Which is truly just incredible. Let’s not forget, had they not been splitting time, Greiss has 27 starts as opposed to Lehner’s 28, Greiss could be higher on the wins list amongst goalies, which is a stat that matters.

While I will be the first to admit keeping this tandem together is important, so the Isles really need to try to re-sign Lehner, Greiss has also been darn impressive.

The Islanders are not first in the division in the middle of February if they don’t get the play they are from their one-two punch in between the pipes. While one could argue Greiss’ stats are slightly inflated because he plays less than a lot of goalies, he has always played less and he is still lighting it up.

While Greiss is up for free agency in two years, after the 2019-2020 season, that is a dilemma the Isles can cross when they get there. Right now, Greiss is important to this team.

Even if it Greiss’ job to be the number two and tag slightly behind Lehner in starts, he is still doing a fantastic job at his job. He could still be a liability. Instead, he is buying into the system and doing his job, like everyone else on the Islanders this season.

The best thing is, this is helping the player as much as it’s helping the team. Let’s say in two years, when Greiss’ contract is up, and the Islanders still have Lehner and the NHL path for Ilya Sorokin is clearer, and Greiss is maintaining this level of play, he could be in for a massive pay-day here, or elsewhere.

Clearly, he is learning a lot about the position and how to do it better than he ever has with the staff in place. The Islanders defense as a unit is better, they could go from most goals allowed to least, which they are currently on pace to do, in one offseason.

The Islanders have far from any problems. They are looking up at zero teams in the division standings and are speeding their way into the playoffs.

Next. Analyzing one of the biggest trends from the Islanders this season. dark

But, even a great problem is technically a problem. With the career resurgence of Greiss, the problem becomes that the Islanders might have too many great goalies on their team. Again, that’s not a bad thing.