The New York Islanders enter the All-Star Break leading the Metropolitan Division by three points. By far the biggest surprise in the NHL so far this season. However, the Isles need a finisher and that’s why they should target Ottawa’s Mark Stone.
The New York Islanders have been winning with their depth across their entire roster. However, even during their recent streak, there have been times when scoring goals has been an issue.
Needing a Finisher
While the Isles had a sensational January, in those 11 games the blue and orange only had three games where they scored more than three goals in a game. With the way, the Islanders are playing team defense and along with the goaltending they are receiving being 16th in the NHL with 2.96 goals per game is fine.
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However, the current state of the Islanders power-play is not fine, as it is currently rank 24th with a 16.7%. When the big games towards the end of the season come along, and more so the playoffs the power play is critical.
By landing a finisher the Isles could put that player with Mathew Barzal and move one of the Isles other top-six forwards to the third line and improve the play even more so on that line as well. Obviously, landing a finisher would also help the team’s power play immensely.
Case for Stone
So why is Stone the right fit for the Islanders? Yes, he is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season so at this point and time he would be a rental.
Stone is a scorer (22 Goals, 50 Points) and he is a two-way player (plus 15 on a sub 500 club). In the mid-season awards, the Professional Hockey Writers Association had Stone as a Selke finalist. Stone should have no issues buying into Barry Trotz’s system.
So what would the cost be to bring Stone to the Island? Because he is a rental it would be a huge mistake to trade one of the prized prospects in the Isles pipeline. So Kieffer Bellows, Noah Dobson, Oliver Wahlstrom, Bode Wilde, and Ilya Sorokin are untouchables in a rental trade.
An approach that makes sense for the Isles is using draft picks and an enticing youngster to land Stone. A package of the Isles 2019 first-round pick (top 10 protected), Josh Ho-Sang, and a second-round pick in 2020 could very well bring Stone to Long Island.
Stone is the kind of player ( as well as his age, turns 27 in May) that Lou and Trotz would target come July 1st. Getting Stone in the fold for the second half of the season as well as the playoffs could be the beginning of the campaign to get Stone signed long-term with the Islanders. So while Stone would be a rental now, if the relationship goes well he could turn out to be a part of the Isles future core.
Because of the current state of the Islanders prospect pipeline, they are in a position where they could use future draft picks to add Stone to the Isles. Landing Stone could improve the Isles on multiple fronts.