It was deemed as one of the most important offseasons in New York Islanders franchise history and it has certainly lived up to expectations. Unfortunately, there has been more bad than good, leaving the fanbase to question the immediate future of this team.
You couldn’t have dreamed of a better start to such a pivotal offseason than the one the New York Islanders had. First was the big move of bringing in Lou Lamoriello to take over hockey operations. From there, Lou relived GM Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight of their duties.
Lou then went out and hired Barry Trotz fresh off his Stanley Cup victory. The Isles finally have a head coach with actual coaching experience. The Capitals were one of the premier teams in the league under Trotz and his defensive style of coaching is desperately what this team needs.
The Islanders have Lamoriello, they have Trotz, and they completed the trifecta on draft night. With back to back picks just outside the top ten, the team landed projected top ten players with BOTH picks.
For the first time in a while, the team’s future was shining bright and had a sense of direction. A Hall of Fame GM, a Hall of Fame coach, an excellent draft, and all that was left was to sign John Tavares which seemed to be a slam dunk after all this, right?
The John Tavares Effect
The entire Tavares saga really hurt this franchise and set them back for at least two-three years. I don’t really want to get into it but our “captain” didn’t have the best interest of the team in mind.
No matter what Tavares’ decision was going to be, the front office had their work cut out for them. Coming off a historically bad defensive season, they needed to make major upgrades in net and on the blue line. Now with Tavares’ departure, the Isles look bleak down the middle.
The team is left with a major hole on their top line, one that we all hope reigning Calder winner, Mat Barzal can fill. Behind Barzy, you have Brock Nelson (who is an RFA), Valtteri Filppula, and Casey Cizikas. That doesn’t really woo anyone. Tavares holding out until the last possible second restricted the Islanders from making consequential moves to make up for his departure.
More from Eyes On Isles
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- Islanders: Semyon Varlamov Deserves Benefit of the Doubt
- Islanders Ilya Sorokin becoming number one goalie
- Islanders Zach Parise Was Quiet in Return to Minnesota
It’s always telling what an organization does after a loss of this magnitude. Some thought the Lou may retool and put together a contender in time for Belmont. Others thought he would use the $30 million in cap space to make a big splash. Bring in a big fish like Erik Karlsson or Artemi Panarin.
Instead, he went out and acquired a bunch of bottom six forwards which has left us scratching our head. Hours after JT’s decision, Leo Komarov was signed to a four year, $12M contract. Before that, Thomas Hickey was resigned to a four year, $10M contract.
These moves are the most questionable because, money aside, why are you locking up these guys for 4 years? These deals are something that I expect out of Garth Snow. I understand the need for culture change and fixing the bottom six and PK but these type of players are available every year.
Culture is very important for a team but it doesn’t score goals and play defense. I’m very happy that Matt Martin is back, but then what was the point of signing Komarov and Johnston? All these guys are going to take valuable playing time from rookies like Ho-Song, Bellows, and Toews.
There have been some good deals though. Robin Lehner and Jan Kovar both signed one-year deals that are low risk, high reward. It’s so odd that Lou could pull off those deals but then dish out such bad deals too. It makes you scared to think about what’s going to happen with the Brock Nelson situation.
I really hope Lou has something up his sleeve that’s part of a grand master plan. It’s been a tale of two GMs so far, sort of like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It’s very important for the future of this franchise that we see more of the side that constructed the teams in New Jersey and Toronto. Until then, we have to wait and see if some clarity and other moves are on the horizon.