Islanders top five trade and unrestricted free agent targets

Nikolaj Ehlers #27 of the Winnipeg Jets (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Nikolaj Ehlers #27 of the Winnipeg Jets (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

The New York Islanders still need to add up front. Here are the top targets for the Islanders to pursue before the 2020-21 NHL season.

How the New York Islanders are going to add a top-end forward for 2020-21 is going to be one heck an act. The Islanders have little space to sign the RFAs they already have on the roster, let alone have room to bring in top-six support.

But with 412 goals scored over the last two seasons, the Islanders rank 26th in offense since Barry Trotz took over, it’s clear that the Islanders need to add upfront.

Let’s just, for the sake of argument, assume the Islanders make enough space. Who do they look to bring in of the various options likely to be available either on the trade market or in unrestricted free agency?

Johnny Gaudreau | Calgary Flames (Trade)

It seems that Johnny Hockey could be available if the Calgary Flames fail to progress to the second round of the playoffs in 2019-20. Why Calgary would want to move him is beyond me. Johnny Gaudreau is an incredible player.

Over seven years with the Flames, Gaudreau has 151 goals and 445 points in 464 games played. He’s scored at least 30 goals twice, 70 points three times, and just recently in 2018-19 hit a career-high 99 points.

If he’s available, the Islanders need to go all in.

Taylor Hall | Arizona Coyotes (UFA)

He might be having a down year, but Taylor Hall is still a good player. One that would immediately improve the Islanders roster.

His 52 points in 65 games isn’t that same Hart Trophy form he was in during the 2017-18 NHL season, but his 563 points in 627 career games show he’s a solid top-six player. Add him to the Islanders set of forwards and they should, on paper, become a challenger to the teams at the top of the league.

Kyle Palmieri | New Jersey Devils (Trade)

I included this one because it seems like a very Lou move to make. Kyle Palmieri is a solid veteran player who’s consistently returned 0.69 points-per-game (~57 points over a full season).

Palmieri isn’t that championship-caliber forward we all desperately want but he’s a solid veteran that’s good at both ends of the ice that competes hard.

I can absolutely see Lou Lamoriello bring in Palmieri.

Mike Hoffman | Florida Panthers (UFA)

Say what you want about Mike Hoffman, but there’s one thing that is undeniable; he scores goals. Only once since 2014-15 has Mike Hoffman scored less than 25 goals in a full NHL season. That was 2017-18 when he scored 22 goals and 56 points with the Ottawa Senators.

Since joining the Florida Panthers, Hoffman put up 36 goals and 70 points in 2018-19 and was on pace for 35 goals and another 70 point season. It’s clear that when Hoffman plays with quality players he puts up quality numbers.

Nikolaj Ehlers | Winnipeg Jets (Trade)

He seems like the perfect winger for Mathew Barzal. He’s fast, he’s shifty, and he scores goals. Since entering the league in 2015-16, Nikolaj Ehlers has scored 20+ goals in four of five seasons. He had 15 in his rookie year.

He might not be available in the trade market. Winnipeg needs help on the blue line and in order to get a puck mover they might be willing to move Ehlers.

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The ideal candidate is Johnny Gaudreau, but in the unlikely event, he’s available Nikolaj Ehlers becomes my go-to trade target for the Islanders.