New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello has considered this season an “evaluation season.” This means Lamoriello has been doing his due diligence of every one of the Islanders team – players and staff – and non-Islanders.
After greatly exceeding expectations and making the playoffs, the New York Islanders should look to add to their young core of forwards. This season has shown that head coach Barry Trotz‘ system is a successful one, but lacks on the offensive side of the game when his team does not have an offensive superstar.
To add much-needed offensive talent to this defensive-minded Islanders team, Lamoriello should trade for 2011 first-overall pick,
of the Edmonton Oilers.
Why Trade for RNH?
Nugent-Hopkins is still only 25 years old (about to be 26) and is still growing as a hockey player. Setting career bests in points (67), goals (28), and assists (39) in 80 games this season, this season has been a much-needed career year for the young forward.
Before this season, Nugent-Hopkins had surpassed 62 games played just once in his previous three seasons. Additionally, RNH had not totaled 50 points or more since the 2014-15 season.
With Valtteri Filppula‘s contract expiring after this season, the Islanders will need to add another center, Nugent-Hopkins would be an excellent acquisition to fill this opened center position.
However, if Lamoriello decides to satisfy this need with a player through free agency or even Bridgeport (Otto Koivula), RNH has also played on the wing in his career and would be an asset at that position.
Furthermore, if Lamoriello believes Brock Nelson has not warranted a new contract after this season, Nugent-Hopkins can replace him.
Overall, RNH is a highly skilled playmaker who can also put the puck in the back of the net himself. To put it into perspective, Nugent-Hopkins’ 67 points this year would be leading this Isles team and his 28 goals would be tied for the team lead with Anders Lee.
Adding to this point, Nugent-Hopkins is just going into the prime of his career, so this level of production can be expected for next year and around five more years after that. Additionally, although young, RNH brings the intangible trait of leadership – he is currently an alternate caption of the Oilers.
So if Lamoriello does have the idea of trading for RNH, who would be included in the deal to go to Edmonton?
Considering the Oilers’ need for defensemen, it can be assumed that a defenseman would have to be included in this deal. Good thing for the Isles is that they have plenty of defensive prospects coming up through the organization, like Noah Dobson and Bode Wilde.
However, since Lamoriello values these two prospects so high, it is very unlikely that they’ll be dealt. With this said, the most likely candidate to be traded is Nick Leddy.
Leddy is an offensive-minded defenseman with smooth hands. Additionally, Leddy is one of the best and smoothest skating defensemen.
However, Leddy has not reached what was expected of him on both sides of the puck. Of the previous four seasons with the Isles, Leddy posted a positive +/- just once. Furthermore, he has not scored more than 11 goals in his time with the team.
Although Leddy has been a disappointment for the Islanders, Edmonton could possibly still take a chance on him with their desperate need for defensemen.
With all that said, just Nick Leddy will most likely not get the job done to acquire Nugent-Hopkins and an early-round (first or second round) draft pick will probably be needed to convince the Oilers to let go of their former first-overall pick.