Dating back to last season, NY Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello addressed the fanbase claiming that he was going to make "hockey trades." That came with the implication that the Islanders were going to be active in the offseason and the team might look a little bit different in 2022-23 after missing the playoffs for the first time in four seasons. It began to look like that just might be true, too, as Lamoriello relieved former Islanders head coach Barry Trotz of his duties and later promoted Lane Lambert as the next bench boss. However, one single trade at the 2022 NHL draft was all the activity Lamoriello would participate in, bringing in defenseman Alexander Romanov, and the rest of the roster remained the same. According to Sportsnet insider Elliotte Friedman via 32 Thoughts the Podcast, it wasn't for a lack of trying.
"Lamoriello is getting ripped for his inactivity which I get, but I guarantee you one thing. He’s tried," Friedman explained. "I think he has looked out there for stuff. He said last summer that he was going to make some hockey trades. I refuse to believe that he didn’t because he wasn’t trying. What it says to me is he didn’t like what was out there. A scorer? I’m sure he’s looked at them. I’m sure he’s looked at (Vladimir) Tarasenko. I just don’t think he likes the price.”
There were plenty of players who were available last summer via the trade market that the Islanders absolutley could have benefitted from. Kevin Fiala was the one big name on the trade market that many fans beleived would fit in like a glove next to Mathew Barzal. The Minesotta Wild had been, and still are, dealing with a cap crunch and it felt like an opportunity to take advantage of the situation. However, the Los Angelas Kings swooped in and snagged the 30-goal, 85-point collecter in the 2021-22 season. Going the other way to Bill Guerin prospect Brock Faber and a first-round pick (No. 19) in the 2022 NHL Draft.
Then there was Alex DeBrincat, a two-time 40-goal scorer that for some reason, the Chicago Blackhawks were willing to move at the ripe age of 24 years old. The Ottawa Senators packaged their first- and second-round picks in the 2022 draft (Nos. 7 and 39) and a third-round pick in the 2024 draft.
Matthew Tkachuk was available after he told the Calgary Flames he wasn't planning on staying with the organization long-term. GM Brad Treliving shipped him to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar, Cole Schwindt, and a conditional 2025 first-round pick.
The recurring theme here is that the Islanders likely didn't have a prospect (at the time) that matches the value of Faber, the draft picks as valueable as Ottawa's, or the star-power like Huberdeau to move in a trade to retrieve a juggernaut in Tkachuk. Friedman reported earlier this week that the Islanders have been looking around the Jakob Chychrun situation and that the Islanders GM thinks the asking price for the 24-year-old defenseman is "outragous." We also learned that one of Lamoriello's philosiphies is to make a trade for now and in the future as he doesn't believe in rentals unless he thinks his team can win it all.
So, according to Friedman, Lamoriello has been trying. The issue? The Islanders pockets aren't very deep. Other organizations, especially those in the same division as the Islanders, have much more to work with moving forward. The Islanders are in a precarious decision. They're somewhere between a buyer and a seller at the upcoming NHL Trade Deadline and are trending closer to a seller with each passing day and to boot, they haven't recouped the assets they need to include themselves in any kind of bidding war with a thin prospect pool and their best prospect, Aatu Räty, likely sticking around in the NHL for a little while. They do have all their draft picks heading into the 2023 NHL Draft, but the last first-round selection they made was in 2019 when they drafted Simon Holmstrom. The next five weeks will certainly be interesting as we see what direction Lamoriello is headed in with the Islanders and if he'll finally be able to pull the trigger on a trade.