Much of the discussion around what went wrong with the New York Islanders in 2021-22 (when it comes to the roster) revolves around the trades that sent Devon Toews and Nick Leddy out of the squad. And while that's certainly fair, the real issue isn't losing them exactly.
It's not replacing them that effectively sank the Islanders.
New York Islanders biggest mistake was not replacing lost puck moving defensemen
Look, I know that the 13-game road trip and the COVID outbreak severely impacted the team and their ability to put together a winning season. But we're talking about issues that could impact any team, no matter the construction of said team.
When it came specifically to the Islanders their main issue on the ice was their inability to move the puck out of the D-zone. In Barry Trotz's system, the Isles invite pressure, but with no way to move the puck out, there's no way to relieve that pressure. And that's a major problem.
Because the Islanders couldn't fill the skillset that Toews and Leddy took with them to Colorado and Detroit the team was going to struggle unless they change the way they played. Barry Trotz doubled down on his defense-first philosophy. And the Isles struggle.
There's no problem moving Devon Toews and Nick Leddy out so long as the team could replace what they took with them on the way out of Long Island. And that's where the Islanders failed this year. There was no puck-moving defenseman coming in.
Perhaps the right player wasn't available to the Isles or they couldn't meet the price for said player. Maybe they thought someone like Robin Salo could take a step up at some point over the year and give the Isles what they were missing.
So it's fine to think that trading away Toews and then Leddy was bad but the real problem was not having someone to fill their role.