New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello will have to use the trade market to fix a gap in his roster. He can’t shy away from making a bold move.
The New York Islanders are in need of a top-line winger and weren’t able to bring on in during free agency. Target Artemi Panarin signed with the New York Rangers, leaving Lou and his $12.5 million contract offer sitting there thinking: “now what?”
With most of the quality in the free-agent market now gone, Lou Lamoriello is going to have to use the NHL’s trade market to strengthen his roster. It’s the only way he’s going to be able to add a bona fide NHL caliber top-six forward.
He can turn to the youth in his system, but there’s no guarantee that any of the kids in the system are top-six talents. Players like Oliver Wahlstrom and Kieffer Bellows are talented but there’s no guarantee they’ll be top six players in the NHL.
The only option for Lou to find a sure-fire top-six NHL forward is through trade. An option he’s been reluctant to use for a while.
Use the Trade Market
There are only three ways to add top-quality players to a team: free agency, the entry draft, or through the trade market. Lou shot his shot in free agency by going after Artemi Panarin with a mega offer and found out the hard way that the Islanders aren’t yet the destination he (and I) thought we were.
When it comes to young prospects in the system we know how Lou feels. Lou likes for his prospects to fully mature in the NHL before promoting them to the NHL on a full-time basis. The thought of him giving a top-six spot to Oliver Wahlstrom or Kieffer Bellows doesn’t fit with Lou’s philosophy. So the prospect option is out the window.
Leaving only the trade market to exploit. And Lou isn’t one for the trade market when it comes to adding top-end talent, at least not of late.
Lou has rarely used the trade market to strengthen the top end of his roster. By strengthening the top end of his roster, I’m talking about a proven top-tier player. It’s been a while since Lou’s completed a trade like that.
When was the last time Lou brought in a top-level player to complement his team? It was Ilya Kovalchuk. Back in 2010. Maybe it was getting Corey Schneider for a first-round pick in 2013. Or maybe it was Frederik Andersen for a first and a second-round pick in 2016.
That’s three trades that fit the criteria over the last nine years.
Lou’s made other trades, but typically they’ve been depth moves like trading for Brian Boyle when Toronto made it to the playoffs under his stewardship for the first time, or it was unloading contracts like Dion Phaneuf, or picking up draft picks.
Lou just isn’t fond of using the trade market to add top-end players to a team.
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If Lou is going to add a top-six forward he’s going to have to use the trade market. He’s got defenders to spare and young prospects he doesn’t seem keen on using (such as Josh Ho-Sang). Use those assets in a trade to land a top-six player. It’s a risk, but if Lou’s serious about landing a top-six player it’s a risk he’ll have to take.