New York Islanders management know what they need to do over the offseason to address weaknesses in the roster. Their biggest hurdle will be themselves.
We know the New York Islanders need to add quality up top. Their bottom six forwards were a force this season. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the Islanders top six forwards. The Islanders relied too heavily on their bottom six forwards to carry the load offensively.
Going through free agency or the trade market is going to be the best option for Lou Lamoriello to add what his team is missing for the 2019-20 season.
Their only real impediment to adding that top-tier quality is going to be themselves.
Meet the Market
Let me clarify what I mean by that. By “themselves” I’m talking about the New York Islanders willingness to meet whatever the market desires either via free agency or in the trade market.
Remember, at the trade deadline Lou was in on a number of big-name free agents. But when the time came Lou didn’t meet what teams were looking for and the trade deadline passed without adding what his team needed.
If Lou wants to add to his roster this offseason he has to find a way to make it work this time around.
He knows that he might have to part with one of his bluechip prospects if he wants to bring in a top-tier player via trade. He’ll have to figure out which one of Noah Dobson, Oliver Wahlstrom, Kieffer Bellows, or Bode Wilde he can part with in order to add a top-six forward.
The only thing holding Lou back from making a trade is Lou. If he isn’t willing to make a trade that leaves free agency to address his team’s weakness up front.
The Islanders might not yet be the destination for free agents. But the Islanders aren’t a team that players run away from when they come calling.
Ownership takes major credit for changing that. By bringing in Lou and paying for a coach like Barry Trotz, they’ve established a winning culture within less than a season. They’re building a new hockey-first arena at Belmont Park. They’re spending on player personnel. And they’ve spent to build a new practice facility.
Players see that and take notice. Free agents won’t have the same issues they once had. The Islanders still might have to pay extra to bring them in. But they won’t have to offer them max term and incredible trade protection like they did for Andrew Ladd a few years ago.
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For the first time in a long time, the New York Islanders can approach the offseason with a reasonable chance at landing anyone on the free agent market and to make a major play via trade. So long as they’re willing to meet the price.