The New York Islanders have high expectations this season. Lou Lamoriello is an aggressive GM but don’t expect him to land any big fish at the trade deadline.
The biggest reason why the New York Islanders won’t land a big player at this year’s trade deadline is that hardly any will be available.
Because of Covid, the NHL is facing a lot of uncertainty over the next year – two. No one knows when significant attendance will begin again. It’s unlikely that will happen this season.
One of the domino effects of this uncertainty is a flat salary cap. Another domino is the trade market will mostly consist of pending unrestricted free agents, especially now that Pierre-Luc Dubois and Patrik Laine have been dealt.
The fish the New York Islanders could catch at the trade deadline
The pending UFA list lacks big fish players on non-contending teams. The only significant UFA that could be moved by the deadline is Taylor Hall. Keep in mind Buffalo wants to compete for the playoffs and wants to sign Hall long-term. He will only be available if both situations look very unlikely. Kyle Palmieri could also become available but New Jersey would like to keep him with their young core.
However, Lamoriello could be aggressive in terms of landing veterans that would add depth and experience.
Leading up to the trade deadline, look for Lamoriello to add some veteran depth both at forward and on the blue line. The Isles are set with their top-six defenseman but wouldn’t be surprised to see Lou acquire an experienced blueliner for the taxi squad. One that is bigger (in size) than Thomas Hickey.
In terms of upfront talent, keep an eye on the Devils Travis Zajac. The 35-year old is a UFA at the end of the year and someone Lamoriello is well acquainted with, as well as a big admirer. Zajac could play wing for the Isles and give them an insurance policy at center.
Zajac has a no-trade clause but like Andy Greene, one would think he would waive it to join Lou and the Isles. If Lou looks to add Zajac or another veteran forward he will have to do some maneuvering given the state of the Isles salary cap. Keep in mind players moved at the trade deadline their salaries are pro-rated in terms of the salary cap.
The trade costs for acquiring veteran talent for depth won’t be any higher than a mid-round draft pick. The hard part for Lamoriello regarding these acquisitions will be making them fit under the cap.
Granted the Islander fanbase wants a goal scorer at the trade deadline. Instead, look for Lamoriello to add depth and experience.