The New York Islanders off-season is well underway with the first move completed last week. Now the Isles need to find goal scorers on the wing.
In addition, to resigning their own key free agents, now Lamoriello needs to land a goal scorer or two on the wing. The Isles could pursue those players via free agency or the trade route, or quite possibly both.
There are some enticing options come July 1st on the unrestricted free agent market. First and foremost the best option for the Isles is to sign Artemi Panarin come July 1st. Panarin turns 28 in late October. so he is in the prime of his career. Panarin is coming off an outstanding season with Columbus posting 28 goals and 87 points.
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The thought of Panarin playing on a line with Mathew Barzal is intoxicating. However, the competition will be fierce for him between the Rangers and the Florida Panthers alone. Lou would have to convince Panarin to chose the Islanders and pay him around $11 million a year on a seven-year deal.
Jeff Skinner is another strong option for the Isles. Skinner just turned 27 this month and is coming off a 40 goal season. He also would as well be a great fit to play alongside Barzal.
That’s the good news. The bad news is there are reports that the Buffalo Sabres and Skinner are closing in on a new contract. If that happens that would eliminate a really good option for the Isles.
Gustav Nyqvist turns 30 in September and while he can help the Isles it needs to be a shorter term deal and the Isles would have to have completed other moves as well for this to make sense.
The sexy name on this list is Mike Hoffman who scored 36 goals last season. If the Panthers sign Panarin odds are Hoffman who becomes an unrestricted free agent after next season will be traded. Florida needs help on the blue line so the Isles match up well with them in a trade.
However, Hoffman turns 30 next season and what would an extension look like for him be it this summer or after next season? Plus how much of a concern is it that Hoffman has been a high minus player the last couple of years with both Florida and Ottawa? Let’s not forget the off the ice issues that got Hoffman shipped out of Ottawa.
Kasperi Kapanen while not the goal scorer that Hoffman is might be the smarter choice. Kapanen doesn’t turn 23 until this summer, plays more of a two-way game than Hoffman and produces offense (20 goals and 44 points last year) and is improving. Like Florida, Toronto needs help on the blue line so the Isles match up well with them as well in a potential trade.
Zucker doesn’t turn 28 until next January so he is the prime of his career. Zucker can clearly help the Islanders but let’s be clear do not expect the 33 goals he scored two years ago. He is more of a 20 goal (hit 20 goals four of the last five seasons) two-way guy. He could fit in really well in Barry Trotz’s system and is signed for the next four years with a $5.5 million dollar cap hit.
There could be some more options available for the Isles on the trade market that is unknown at this point. Bottom line Lamoriello has to resign Anders Lee and Robin Lehner and add at least one major offensive player. To put themselves in the best position to take a major step forward, Lou should be looking to add two scoring wingers.