All remains quiet with the New York Islanders and Lou Lamoriello, but after a brief slumber, the NHL off-season is waking up and more dominos are set to fall.
Late last night, the trade of star 40-goal scorer Matthew Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers, an underrated suitor, sent shockwaves through the NHL. Tkachuk had informed the Calgary Flames that he would not sign long-term and many teams lined up for the chance to acquire the talented power forward.
In the end, it was the President Trophy-winning Panthers sending a haul to Calgary for Tkachuk and immediately signed him to an extension for 8 years worth $76 million. In return, Calgary received Florida's all-time points leader Jonathan Huberdeau, talented defenseman MacKenzie Weegar, prospect Cole Schwindt, and a lottery-protected first-round pick in 2025.
"Matthew is a tenacious, physical competitor who possesses a tremendously unique skillset. He is a consistent elite offensive contributor and has emerged as one of the most complete and dynamic young players in the National Hockey League. We are thrilled to be able to add a generational talent to our lineup."- Panthers general manager Bill Zito
Huberdeau is coming off a career year where he recorded his second 30-goal season, along with 85 assists. At 29, Huberdeau is in the prime of his career and will certainly help with the loss of Tkachuk. Weegar is a solid right-handed defenseman that has put up two 30+ point seasons in a row, with last year being a career year of 44 points. Schwindt is a prospect that played three games for the Panthers last season.
Both Huberdeau and Tkachuk are UFAs after next season. If Calgary is unable to extend them, they will become amongst the most coveted trade chips come the 2023 trade deadline.
What Does This Mean for the Islanders?
The Islanders did not appear to have the assets to complete a trade for Tkachuk and it was confirmed last night. The potential involvement of Mat Barzal in a deal would defeat the purpose of acquiring a star winger.
One of the potential destinations for Tkachuk included the St. Louis Blues, where Tkachuk had grown up. The Islanders have long been linked to forward, Vladimir Tarasenko and the Blues would have had to move the star winger to clear space for a potential Tkachuk acquisition, increasing the likelihood of a deal between the Islanders and Blues.
No one truly knows Lamoriello’s plan but the front office. However, Tarasenko remains to be a trade target that fills the needs of the Islanders to make this a successful off-season.
Does the Tkachuk trade change things?
The Islanders have also been linked to the top remaining free agent, Nazem Kadri. Kadri, a center, will be commanding a top contract this off-season after having a career year that ended with a Stanley Cup. Will Lamoriello be forced to act on Kadri before he signs elsewhere or does Lou wait for a trade option? Another team linked with Kadri has been the Flames, which now will be primed to move forward with their off-season plans.
Either way, expect the Kadri domino to be the next one to fall in the coming days.