It's no secret that ever since the NY Islanders traded for Bo Horvat, they've lacked some depth at forward in their top-six. Horvat himself has been great with five goals and eight points in 11 games so far. However, the Islanders lost Anthony Beauvillier and Aatu Räty (as well as a conditional first-round pick), two players that added to the depth of the Islanders before the trade. They've also dealt with an injury bug that has key players such as Mathew Barzal and J.G. Pageau sidelined, not to mention the extended absences of Oliver Wahlstrom and Cal Clutterbuck. Still, they're in the midst of a playoff race holding onto the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference as it stands, and according to Elliotte Friedman, Isles General Manager Lou Lamoriello was active this weekend looking to add to his roster.
"I think there’s some interesting stuff going around about the Islanders," Friedman explained to Jeff Marek via 32 Thoughts the Podcast. "I wouldn’t be hugely surprised, Jeff, if they either thought about it made a waiver claim on (Kasperi) Kapanen. They’ve not as high on the priority list as the (St. Louis) Blues which is why they would’ve lost it to them."
Kapanen was waived by the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb.24th. he signed a two year deal that carries a $3.2 million AAV last summer, but his lack of production became too much for Pittsburgh's management and they attempted to clear some cap space with the trade deadline looming. It worked out in Pittsburgh's favor as Kapanen was claimed by the Blues.
Friedman continued: “It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they did make a claim on Kapanen because obviously (Lou Lamoriello) knows him from their time together in Toronto, and it would have been a free player. It doesn’t cost the Islanders an asset to go get him. Yes, there’s the money, but you can always try to deal with that again in the summer or maybe you keep him into next year if you find it works out. It’s a free player, and the Islanders have paid a lot of their best assets to go out and get Bo Horvat which everybody thinks was a good idea. I think there are a few teams that suspect Lamoriello was around Kapanen."
When that didn't work, Friedman states Lamoriello had his sights set on Blues forward Ivan Barbashev.
“The other thing I think is the Islanders we’re also around Barbashev. Now obviously, they were outbid by the (Vegas) Golden Knights in St. Louis’ eyes. But what this tells me without getting hints from the general manager is that this is a big run for the Islanders. In their second year in this building, they want to be competitive, they want to make the playoffs, the idea of giving up while in this race is ‘nowhere’s-ville,’ and they won a couple of games this week when it looked like they were really in trouble. This says to me that they’re at least trying things and seeing what’s out there in order to stay in the race and make the playoffs.”
Barbashev was dealt to the Golden Knights in exchange for prospect forward Zach Dean. With the Islanders having dealt Räty, their prospect pool took a rather large hit and it's likely they don't have a prospect that competes with the value of Dean.
Regardless, it sounds like the Islanders plan to be buyers. The trade deadline is just four days away and although there's reported interest in their pending unrestricted free agents, it looks like Lamoriello is trying to add instead. Buckle up, it could be an interesting week.