New York Islanders 2021 season preview: How to build on last season's surprising playoff run

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The New York Islanders may not have been the most exciting team to watch during the 2019-20 season, but a surprising run all the way to the Eastern Conference finals in the 2020 postseason means that Mathew Barzal & Co. have arrived ahead of schedule.

A cap crunch this offseason meant that Barry Trotz had to say goodbye to some good players, but with goalie prospect Ilya Sorokin signed and ready to contribute, this should be another season of defense-first, dominant hockey. Here's everything you need to know about the Islanders heading into the 2020-21 season:

Big question: Is this team a contender?

Death, taxes, and everyone counting out the Islanders ... until they make the playoffs, and then even when they get there. New York has made the playoffs in each of Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz's two seasons in charge. The Isles upset the Penguins in 2019 and made it even further in 2020, losing to the Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals.

With largely the same roster returning, we're wondering if this team has an extra gear in them to take that next step.