The New York Islanders enter 2020 with lofty expectations. The question now is what are the Isles options for the upcoming 2020 Trade Deadline.
The big picture for the New York Islanders in terms of how the rest of the season plays out has a much different outlook than this time last year. When the calendar hit January 1st, 2019, everyone was asking are the Islanders a playoff team. This New Years Day everyone is asking can the Isles be an Eastern Conference contender.
Lou Lamoriello’s history shows he is an aggressive general manager. Having said that Lou is aggressive when he can obtain a player that he believes is the right fit for his hockey club.
Lou is not going to make a trade for the sake of making a trade. Everyone saw that last year when Lou stood pat at the trade deadline. It wasn’t for the lack of trying as he was in on both Matt Duchene and Mark Stone. Keep in mind there were reports the Isles were one of the final teams in on Taylor Hall as well.
If Lou believes the Isles need another forward to make a run this Spring and the right player is available, expect him to get that deal done.
Lou’s Options – Scoring Winger
Currently, the Isles seem to be set both in goal and on the blue line in terms of talent and depth. It appears the Isles could use another forward. The question is; is that forward a scoring winger or a two-way center?
In terms of a scoring winger, the options appear to be both locally in the metropolitan area and down around Miami Beach.
Locally it’s expected that the Rangers will move pending unrestricted free agent Chris Kreider by the deadline. The Devils will more than likely move Kyle Palmieri, who is signed through next season (2020-21 with a cap hit of $4.65 million).
The Islanders and Rangers are never making a trade unless one side gives up the sun, the moon, and the stars. So cross out Kreider.
Palmieri is an interesting possibility. Palmieri (turns 29, Feb 1st) has had a solid season with 15 goals and 27 points (last year had 27 goals & 50 points). The fact that he is only signed through next season, could mean the Devils return will probably be centered around draft picks and prospects. Keep in mind New Jersey currently does not have a second or a third-round pick in this June’s Draft.
Finally, there are the Florida Panthers. The Panthers are very much in the hunt for a playoff spot this season so any trade with them will have to be a hockey move, not a rebuilding trade.
Florida has the offense to trade and both Mike Hoffman ( 13 Goals, 27 Points) and Evgeni Dadonov (14 Goals, 29 Points) are pending UFA’s come season end. The Panthers are going to want blue line help in return if they move either one of these scoring wingers.
Lou’s Options at Center
There should be a center available that would fit like a glove for the Islanders. That center is Ottawa’s, Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
The 27-year old two-way center is having a career year offensively with 18 goals and 29 points through the first 40 games. Don’t be fooled as Pageau is more of a secondary scorer. However, Pageau gives you great two-way play and is a top-notch penalty killer. He would fit perfectly into Barry Trotz’s system and would give the Isles that missing center they have been looking for all season.
Having said that, the trade cost for Pageau will be high. A lot of teams looking to make noise this Spring in the NHL playoffs will be in on Pageau for the reasons listed above. End of the day it will cost the Isles their upcoming first-round pick in this June’s Draft and maybe another decent asset to boot to land Pageau.
An under the radar guy to watch in terms of trading for a center would be Vegas’s, Cody Eakin. Eakin is a pending UFA as well and this season his production is way down (three goals, seven points in 24 games). If healthy (currently injured upper body) Eakin could be a terrific low-cost addition.
Expect Lamoriello to be bold this coming trade deadline.