The New York Islanders won’t be able to draft Alexis Lafreniere but they have a chance to win the Stanley Cup, and that’s what matters.
By beating the Florida Panthers in the qualifying round, the New York Islanders not only progressed to the playoffs, but they also transferred their 2020 first-round pick to the Ottawa Senators as part of the Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade.
That 2020 first-round pick was top-three protected. After the right to select the first overall pick was won by “Place Holder Team H” in the first phase of the draft lottery, the only way the Islanders could clinch a top-three pick (and keep their 2020 first) was to lose in the qualifying round.
Had the Islanders lost to the Panthers, they’d have a 12.5 percent chance at winning the first overall pick at the 2020 draft and have the chance to draft Alexis Lafreniere.
The left-wing product of the Rimouski Oceanic has terrorized the QMJHL putting up 297 points in 173 games (1.72 points per game). He’d be a perfect solution to the Islanders lack of talent.
With the opportunity now gone after a 3-1 series win over the Florida Panthers, fans shouldn’t be lamenting at the lost chance.
I know the odds that Islanders win the Stanley Cup are lower than the odds of them possibly winning the first overall pick. After dispatching the Panthers, the Islanders have a small shot at winning the cup:
But as we know these odds are far from perfect. The Columbus Blue Jackets were given a 42 percent chance by The Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn to win their series against the Maple Leafs. We all know how that turned out.
Getting Alexis Lafreniere would plug a number of gaps for the Islanders. By all accounts, he should be an elite winger in the NHL. That’s the kind of skill the Islanders are missing. Mathew Barzal is really their only elite-level player.
He’d be cost controllable for at least his first three years in the league under entry-level rules. A fact that would help the Islanders transition easily from their current core of vets on big deals to a new core.
But you play to win championships and over the last two years, the Islanders have been able to do that. They didn’t go as far as we’d like in 2018-19 but they got further than we thought was possible.
We’ll see what this year brings. But what’s clear is that while getting Alexis Lafreniere would have been good for this franchise, a chance at winning the cup is what it’s all about.