Additional Forward Targets For the NY Islanders

Boston Bruins v Florida Panthers - Game Six
Boston Bruins v Florida Panthers - Game Six / Joel Auerbach/GettyImages

Now that the NY Islanders have signed their free agents, Lou Lamoriello will look towards the trade market to improve the team, as many hockey insiders believe the Isles are in the market for a scoring winger.

The Islanders finished last year 22nd in goals per game, a number they hope to improve on. A full season of Bo Horvat and Oliver Wahlstrom should improve the teams scoring, but adding another scoring winger could turn the Isles from a solid team into a contender.


It seems the Isles are a good match for the Ottawa Senators in a potential Alex DeBrincat deal. The Senators want players who can help them now, and a package of JG Pageau and Oliver Wahlstrom could very well get a deal done.

However, there is the issue of DeBrincat's contract, as he's slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July 1st. Per TSN's Darren Dreger, DeBrincat's camp is seeking a Timo Meier-type contract of 8 years for $70.2 million (8.775 AAV).

A trade of Pageau and Wahlstrom for DeBrincat would give the blue and orange a little over $6 million in cap space with no remaining free agents. Lamoriello can do some cap maneuvering regarding Ross Johnston's $1.1 million cap hit - but if DeBrincat's ask of $8.775 million AAV is accurate, is that something Lamoriello and the Islanders hope to enter given the state of their current cap situation?

Other Options

There are other options out there regarding the acquisition of a scoring winger. Reports are the Toronto Maple Leafs and William Nylander are far apart in contract negotiations. Nylander, who also becomes an unrestricted free agent next July 1st, has a cap hit of $6.96 million this coming season, with the Leafs currently sitting $3.2 million over the cap after Jake Muzzin's LTIR exemption.

It's being reported that Nylander is looking for 10 million a year on a long-term deal- something the Islanders may have difficulty accommodating at this time.

That being said, Lamoriello should inquire what a trade for Nylander would cost. Pageau would be a strong fit for the Leafs as he would give them a solid two-way forward, which they desperately need - and landing a center would allow them to move John Tavares (yeah, that guy) to the wing. It would also free up nearly $2 million in cap space, leaving another move necessary to become cap compliant.

Given Nylander's current contract, the Isles and Lamoriello would have to be very careful what additional assets (especially top future assets) they would give up. While an extension would be ideal for the Islanders, Nylander may want to test the open market as the salary cap is expected to rise by $4M next off-season. Given that, trading Wahlstrom or a first-round pick has to be a no-go unless it comes with an extension. If a trade for Nylander costs a boatload without an extension, it needs to be a hard pass.

Another option, and the best fit from a cap perspective, is a potential trade with the Boston Bruins. It looks as if Patrice Bergeron is headed toward retirement, and Pageau could fit in as a solid two-way center for the Bruins. Jake Debrusk can play either left or right wing, and in the last two years, he's scored 27 and 25 goals. DeBrusk's cap hit for this season is $4 million, set to enter free agency next summer.

Given the cap situation, the best option for the Isles may be DeBrusk. Yes, he is a UFA after next season, making it possible he could only wind up being with the Islanders for just one season. A deal with the Bruins would also set up the Isles with plenty of cap space to sign Wahlstrom to a bridge deal.

Islander fans hope Lamoriello can make a hockey trade and have this team look even more formidable heading into the 2023-24 season.