"If you can’t get the puck out of your zone, you cannot score in this league," Elliotte Friedman explained to Jeff Marek in the latest edition of The Jeff Marek Show on the Sportsnet Radio Network. "I think the NY Islanders have been missing a little bit of that and they don’t have natural goal scorers. They know who they are, they have to work so hard to score and I just think it’s really hard to win in this league like that. They need natural goal scorers."
It came up in conversation when Marek asked Friedman, and we're paraphrasing, "what's going on with the Islanders and why are they sinking?"
Friedman's response is spot on. In 11 games in the month of January, the Islanders have scored just 22 goals. On average, that's two goals per game. The only victories the Islanders have had came against the toiling Vancouver Canucks in 6-2 victory on Jan. 3rd and a 2-1 victory against a bottom-feeding Montreal Canadiens team. The Islanders are dealing with injuries, and one of those players may return to the lineup tonight as Kyle Palmieri was seen leaving morning skate with the rest of the game squad, but both Palmieri and Oliver Wahlstrom are two of the Isles best finishers, and they've seen long-term absences.
"They don't have a ton of natural goal scorers there," Friedman continued. "Anders Lee? Hard worker, can get to the front of the net and score. Brock Nelson who is an All-Star this year, he can score, but it has to be in a close scenario there. They just lack natural finish."
Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello has some decisions to make, and quickly if he can. Friedman seems to believe the Islanders should buy and add to the group they have.
Friedman states: "They’ve been rumored, but God only knows what the truth is because (we never get anything from Lamoriello), but (Vladimir) Tarasenko to me, that’s what they need. They need guys who can score."
Tarasenko requested a trade from the St. Louis Blues so long ago that he's now on an expiring contract. He, as well as captain Ryan O'Rielly, have been on the injured reserve and the Blues have been trying to hover around playoff contention without the afformentioned, but the tea leaves are indicating that St. Louis might be looking at a future without them anyway.
In 34 games this season, Tarasenko has 10 goals and 29 points. He had a career season last season scoring 34 goals and 82 points, although he's eclipsed 34 goals twice before scoring 40 in 2015-16 and 39 in 2016-17. He's a six-time 30-plus goal scorer, so the shoe definitely fits in regards to the Islanders needs.
Tarasenko is now 31 years old. If the Blues are ready to sell him, he may not come as expensive as some other options on the market coming off an injury and as a pending unrestricted free agent. He could be a boost as a rental player if the Islanders believe they can crawl back into the playoff picture they're not too far removed from.
As far as signing to remain with the Islanders, that all depends on how confident the Islanders are in his ability to stay healthy, which he's proven in the past can be an issue.
For now, Friedman isn't wrong. If the Islanders aren't going full "rebuild," they need fire pire. Their pockets might not be deep enough to compete in the Timo Meier sweepstakes, but Tarasenko isn't a bad consolation prize.