There’s little the New York Islanders need more than a puck-moving left-handed defenseman. Sure, getting a top-line winger that can pop in 25+ goals in a season would be key but they need someone to replace the gap left by Nick Leddy.
Not just anyone will do. They need a puck mover. That’s why Seattle Kraken defenseman Vince Dunn was the Islanders primary trade target. I use ‘was’ because the puck mover is now under contract with the Kraken.
Now what, with New York Islanders top LHD trade target off the table
On Friday, the Kraken announced that they had come to an agreement on a contract with Vince Dunn. The NHL’s newest team announced that they had come to a two-year $8 million agreement ($4 million AAV) with the defenseman they selected from the Blues in the expansion draft.
With the signing, the Islanders top trade target is now effectively off the board. Sure, a trade could still be worked out between the Kraken and Islanders, but this deal essentially indicates otherwise.
So, now what? We know that free-agency yields no options and with the top target off the board the where do the Isles turn to now? The trade market remains the best avenue to add the piece Lou Lamoriello is looking for.
From Anaheim, both Hampus Lindholm and Cam Fowler are being linked. Of the two Fowler seems like the better fit in terms of playing style. But his $6.5 million cap hit that runs the 2025-26 season, seems like a bit much for the Isles to take on (maybe the Ducks hold some money to facilitate a trade).
Fowler also carries a four-team trade list, which could be a problem. Maybe he doesn’t want to move back East after eleven years out West. With all the winning the Islanders have done I have a hard time seeing him say no. But the possibility is there, so you never know.
Perhaps a reunion between Barry Trotz and Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm? The Preds are reshaping their team and are in a bit of refresh. They could take what the Isles are offering in terms of futures to build for the next few years.
But Ekholm isn’t a puck mover so stylistically this move doesn’t work. The Isles could work around that by assigning more puck moving responsibilities to someone else, like Noah Dobson for example.
I know I’ve often talked about internal options, like Sebastian Aho, Samuel Bolduc, or Robin Salo, but there’s very little evidence that the Isles will play them this year. Not saying it won’t happen, but it’s quite unlikely to happen.
So outside of these three targets, there isn’t much more that really strikes as a top target for the Islanders. Cam Fowler is likely the top target now for the Isles (assuming Anaheim can hold some money back).