New York Islanders Lou Lamoriello Doesn’t Need to Rebuild
The New York Islanders have endured twelve years of a Garth Snow rebuild that brought them one postseason series win. With Lou Lamoriello at the helm, this won’t be another rebuild.
At some point in Garth Snow‘s tenure with the New York Islanders he decided that the team needed an overhaul. It was probably after the Isles lost in five games to the Sabres in round one of the 2007 playoffs.
The Islanders old core of Michael Peca and Alexei Yashin was done. Garth wanted to replace his core of old vets brought in by the previous regime and build around a group of young talented players.
So he went about his way torpedoing the Islanders seasons for years in order to acquire top tier draft picks. Through 2009 to 2014 Garth Snow drafted in the top five on five occasions. He drafted John Tavares, Nino Niederreiter, Ryan Strome, Griffin Reinhart and Michael Dal Colle.
Building through the draft is the way teams rebuild their franchises. For obvious reasons. Drafted players have to sign cheap entry-level contracts, they’re bound to the team that drafts them for years, and it costs nothing to acquire them.
John Tavares was the only one of the picks to make a sustained impact for the Islanders. Three (Nino, Reinhart, Dal Colle) would never truly feature for the Islanders while Strome was the only other to do anything for the Isles with a single 50 point season before tumbling to a respectable, but not at all justifiable for a fourth overall pick, 30 points.
The Islanders would make the postseason on three occasions winning only one playoff series. The Garth Snow rebuild was a massive failure. Lou was brought in and removed Garth from his role as GM shortly after with fears of a rebuild on its way.
Luckily Lou Lamoriello doesn’t have to do that.
The System Is Already Established
When Lou got the New York Islanders gig he said hed need time to properly evaluate the situation. He’d needed to know what the team had on the roster and in the system.
On Monday the Athletic’s Corey Pronman ranked the New York Islanders system as the fifth best in the NHL (subscription required). Lou already has his core of talented young stars to bring this franchise into the next era.
In the system, the Islanders have top-tier prospects in almost every position. They have Oliver Wahlstrom and Kieffer Bellows playing opposing wing. Devon Toews and Noah Dobson on the blueline. And between the pipes are Ilya Sorokin and Linus Soderstrom.
The New York Islanders don’t have that number one center player in the system. They don’t need to cause he’s already playing for them in the NHL.
Mathew Barzal had a breakout season in 2017-18, winning the league’s rookie of the year with an 85 point season. Barzal is that cornerstone center every team needs. And he isn’t in the Isles farm, he’s already here.
The Islanders have that player to build their team around, and they have all of the pieces they need to insert in the roster around him in the system. Add players like Anthony Beauvillier, Ryan Pulock, Anders Lee, Josh Bailey, and Jordan Eberle and the Islanders have everything they need to compete.
Lou still has his work cut out for him to turn all of those talented youngsters into NHL’er and to build a winning culture around the team to welcome them in.
He’s already taken strides to address the latter. Even if the Islanders aren’t a winning team per se this year the plan is clear with quality and quantity in the system and a championship caliber coach onboard.
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Unlike when other general managers are hired Lou Lamoriello doesn’t have to tear down the New York Islanders to the studs. He’s still got a ton of work in order to put it all together, but we won’t have to endure another rebuild with years of being at the bottom of the NHL to acquire top-tier prospects.