Islanders: What if they traded for or signed that top line winger?

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 30: Taylor Hall #9 of the New Jersey Devils stretches during warm ups before the game against the New York Rangers at Prudential Center on November 30, 2019 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 30: Taylor Hall #9 of the New Jersey Devils stretches during warm ups before the game against the New York Rangers at Prudential Center on November 30, 2019 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

What if the New York Islanders added that top-line winger they’ve been looking for?

You know the drill at this point. With nothing really going on, we’re left to fill the gap by thinking of hypothetical situations. For this one, I’m looking at what if the New York Islanders added that top-line winger we so desperately need right now?

The Islanders have needed a top-line winger for at least a decade now. The search for a top-line winger was the predominant narrative during John Tavares‘s career with the Islanders. And it’s the predominant narrative now during Mathew Barzal‘s Islanders career.

Since Lou arrived on the Island two years ago, there have been a few bonafide top-line wingers that have been traded or signed in the NHL, what if Lou got one of those players? That’s the hypothetical world we’re about to enter.

Getting What We Need

For the sake of this piece I’m only looking at sure-fire top-line players. Guys that play between 17-20 minutes a night and return at least 60 points in a season. I’m sure that there are players that could fit nicely on the Islanders top-line given the opportunity, but I’m not going to consider them for this.

I’m also only looking at players that were actually moved, either via trade or through free agency. Again, I’m not interested in the guys that could be moved (for this).

Max Pacioretty (Trade)

The Montreal Canadiens traded sniper and former captain Max Pacioretty to the Vegas Golden Knights for Tomas Tatar, Nick Suzuki, and a second-round pick in 2019.

Pacioretty has scored 54 goals for the Golden Knights, ranking him 35th in the league since the trade. Adding a six-time 30+ goal scorer to the Islanders squad is exactly what they need. Pacioretty is also a volume shooter, again a desperate need for the Isles. His 498 shots since 2018-19 rank him 13th in the NHL.

Pacioretty’s first season with Vegas wasn’t great with a 50 point pace, but he’s bounced back in year two with a 76 point pace. There’s no doubt he’s exactly the type of player the Islanders can use next to Barzal to just fire the puck from anywhere in the offensive zone.

Mark Stone (Trade)

I desperately wanted Mark Stone at the 2018 trade deadline. His two-way play fits the Barry Trotz system perfectly. No one is better at stripping pucks off of players than Mark Stone.

Since going to Vegas he’s scored 74 points in 83 games. He’s not a volume shooter like Pacioretty, but he still scores enough goals. While Pacioretty is the 35th ranked player in goals since 2018 with 54, Mark Stone is right there with 54 of his own.

But his ability to fit the system and produce is what made Mark Stone such a valuable target for the Isles. As a RW he’d push Jordan Eberle down, but would that be so bad? No, it wouldn’t. There would be more balanced on the roster and the Islanders get a shut-down top-line winger who can put up numbers.

Taylor Hall (Trade)

There’s no question that Taylor Hall is a top-line winger. Over the last 98 games between the New Jersey Devils and Arizona Coyotes, Taylor Hall has 27 goals and 89 points. That’s still 0.91 points-per-game. I don’t know about you but that’s still top-line production. Getting Taylor Hall would give the Islanders what they need.

He shoots from just about everywhere. He may not shoot as frequently as say Max Pacioretty, but he’ll return 250 shots over a full season. This season, with 65 games player Hall has 232 shots, ranking him 12th in the league for getting pucks on net.

Getting him back with old buddy Jordan Eberle and next to a top tier center in Mathew Barzal could be exactly what Taylor Hall needs. Just look at some of the centers that Hall has spent most of his career playing with: Sam Gagner, Shawn Horcoff, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl, Nico Hischier, Carl Soderberg.

Draisaitl is the best player on that list. The Hall and Draisaitl played 165 5on5 minutes in 2015-16 when Draisaitl wasn’t anywhere close to the player he is now. What could Hall do with a center who’s just about to peak like Mathew Barzal?

With an expiring deal its possible the Islanders could still bring him in. Moving enough cap space to get that done is going to be difficult.

Artemi Panarin (Free Agent)

Lou Lamoriello offered Artemi Panarin millions more than the New York Rangers did and Panarin still said no. But if he was here, oh man what could have been.

In 65 games with the Rangers, he already has 32 goals and 95 points. The Calder Trophy winner from 2016 routinely puts 200+ shots on net and hasn’t scored fewer than 27 goals in a season since he entered the league

Next to Mathew Barzal, Panarin could have been exactly what the Islanders are looking for. Not only could he put up points on his own, but he easily helps bring out the best in Mathew Barzal as well. Which is exactly why Lou went all-in trying to get Panarin.