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Islanders options to acquire sniper in offseason

MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 06: Patrik Laine #29 of the Winnipeg Jets looks on against the Montreal Canadiens during the first period at the Bell Centre on January 6, 2020 in Montreal, Canada. The Winnipeg Jets defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 06: Patrik Laine #29 of the Winnipeg Jets looks on against the Montreal Canadiens during the first period at the Bell Centre on January 6, 2020 in Montreal, Canada. The Winnipeg Jets defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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Since John Tavares left the New York Islanders the fanbase has been clamoring for the Isles to add a sniper. In a perfect world they are not wrong but what are the Isles sniper options?

Lou Lamoriello GM and President of the New York Islanders agrees with the fanbase in regards to adding a sniper to the roster. We know this as a couple of summers ago he made a huge push to sign Artemi Panarin in unrestricted free agency (Islanders had the top financial offer on the table for Panarin).

Landscape for New York Islanders to acquire sniper

For sake of argument, let’s not consider the state of the Isles’ current salary cap for a second. The reality is proven snipers rarely come up on the trade market, as well as hit unrestricted free agency. As was the case with Panarin there are exceptions to this rule but it’s few and far between.

When one looks at teams that have NHL snipers on their roster there is a common thread. The thread is those teams drafted those players. The Isles can only hope that they have a future sniper in Oliver Wahlstrom who they drafted in 2018.

Having said that there are some sniper-scoring options available for Lamoriello and the Islanders.

Sniper Options

Mike Hoffman is a UFA and from an offensive statistical standpoint, he’s coming off a strong year. The 31-year old winger scored 17 goals and put up 36 points in 52 games for St. Louis last year. Hoffman can score goals and is a weapon on the power play. However, the rest of his game is severely flawed. He would not fit on a Lamoriello-Barry Trotz team the way he plays defense. Even on a one-year deal, not a fit.

The rumor mill has been buzzing that the Blues also could be moving on from Vladimir Tarasenko. The 29-year old winger has two more years left on his contract with a $7.5 million annual cap hit.

When healthy Tarasenko can be a force offensively as he scored between 33 and 40 goals for five straight years (2014-15 – 2018-19). The key phrase with Tarasenko is when healthy. The last two years he has dealt with severe shoulder issues and has only played in 34 regular-season games during that time while lighting the lamp just seven times.

If one is acquiring Tarasenko this summer are they getting a player capable of returning to that high-scoring prowess? That’s a very big if. Furthermore, for the Isles to fit Tarasenko into their cap situation they would have to move someone such as Jordan Eberle ($5.5 million cap hit). Plus the Islanders would have to give up some future assets to acquire Tarasenko as well. Doesn’t sound like a very sound risk worth taking.

Then finally we get to Patrik Laine. The 23-year old winger is coming off his worst season scoring just 10 goals in 45 games last year with Winnipeg and Columbus. However, he is still very young and if he could play well without the puck (which Lamoriello & Trotz demand) teaming him up with Mathew Barzal could be something special.

Keep in mind no doubt Columbus would listen regarding trade talks with Laine. However, they would expect a return of a goal scorer who gets 30 to 40 goals a year. They would not consider trading Laine on a discount at this point and time.

Laine is a restricted free agent and has to get a raise on his 2020-21 salary of $6.75 million. The Islanders would need Columbus to take salary back for this to work given their cap. But the Isles also would have to give up some serious future assets to Columbus for them to move Laine this summer. Given that Laine is healthy and his age if the Isles were going to take a chance on someone, Laine would make the most sense.

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Islander fans should feel confident that Lamoriello will leave no stone unturned in making this team better. No doubt Lou would love to add more scoring but most likely that is going to mean finding a way to fit Kyle Palmieri under the cap.

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