After last night’s 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh, if you opened your window on Long Island you probably heard the faint screams of “this team needs a goal scorer” off in the distance. While on the surface, that’s true for the Islanders, it’s really not that simple.
Yes, I am not a naive person, the thing that would put this team over the top is an elite-level goal scorer that is fairly obvious, there’s just a slight issue. Where is that person coming from?
Patrik Laine is the first name that’s brought up. His cap number remaining is $4.995 million after being traded to Columbus earlier this year. The issue, the Islanders only have $1.45 million in cap space to work with.
You can send Leo Komarov to that taxi squad, that would save the Islanders another $1.075 million but that still not enough to bring another elite scorer in here. Is Jordan Eberle or Josh Bailey movable in a COVID economy?
Both have three more years after this with a cap hit of $5 million or more, I’d argue no and the whole thought here is to add not subtract to the roster. That’s not even getting to the prospects.
Ilya Sorokin, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Noah Dobson are all guys you want to keep but with the thin prospect pool can you get a team to bite on a Kieffer Bellows or Bode Wilde in a trade? Maybe, but those aren’t the level of prospects getting moved in a deal for a big scorer most likely.
More than half the league has under $3 million in cap space. This isn’t just an Islanders issue, it’s a league issue. This is probably the worst year in history to be a buyer at the deadline because nobody has room to do anything.
We’re at the point where maybe Mikael Granlund and his $3.75 million is the most they can take on right now. But is Granlund a guy who is putting this team over the top? Absolutely not.
What the team can do is try to maximize the players they do have. Last night, the top two lines looked good. Lee – Barzal – Eberle and Beau – Nelson – Bailey had a number of good chances. Adding Michael Dal Colle back into the lineup for Leo Komarov is definitely a start.
Playing Oliver Wahlstrom for more than 11 minutes a night, and letting him take some reps in the top-six could also be a start. It’s not a perfect situation that the Islanders are in, but there are ways to maximize what they do have.
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As currently constructed this team isn’t going to score a ton of goals, but if they can get to three more often than not they will win hockey games and nine times out of 10 they win games like last night. So sure, you can yell and scream for a goal scorer, I get it, but chances are there isn’t going to be one coming to “save” this team at the deadline.