As the New York Islanders reach the halfway point of their six-game homestand, many wonder about the fate of this year’s season and its players.
The Islanders have been inconsistent to put it lightly this season. Thankfully, Barry Trotz has kept things light with his quirky post game quotes, but what is the expectation for the rest of the season?
The Islanders have been thrown every curveball that can be thought of this season, whether it be a historic road trip or a bout of Covid.
The Trade Deadline Looms
Despite the games in hand on many of the playoff teams, the Islanders are seemingly out of the playoff race. This would naturally push Lou Lamoriello to be in sell mode by the trade deadline.
The magnifying glass is surely on expiring contracts for teams that do not have playoff aspirations by this part of the season.
Cal Clutterbuck, Zach Parise, Zdeno Chara, and Andy Greene are those players that will be scouted and looked to be moved by deadline day. That does not mean they are the only players that will be dangled out to other NHL general managers in the coming weeks.
The Islanders are in a difficult situation with cap space and contracts on underachieving players. Many expendable players carry with them a large-cap hit and longer-term on their contracts. It will take some salary retention and creativity to move the additional players at the deadline.
The remainder of the season will be all too familiar for long-time Islanders' fans, but certainly unfamiliar under the Trotz and Lamoriello era.
The players being discussed may need to be showcased and that will certainly affect the results. Semyon Varlamov will need playing time to truly entice a contender in need of goaltending.
Ilya Sorokin has clearly taken control of the top goalie position and Varlamov has another year on his contract for $5 million. Like the Islanders in general, Varlamov has had a trying season.
Beginning the season injured, Varlamov never was able to regain his playoff performance caliber play. He is still an effective goalkeeper that can help a contender, but his salary will be tough to push on a contending team.
These vets may get minutes over younger, more deserving players to give other scouts final opportunities to view their play. Again, this will have an effect on the outcomes of the games as well as the overall performance.
The mix between trying to win hockey games and performing the necessary business of hockey will be a struggle for the next two weeks.
It is a time to enjoy what is left from some of these players' careers in blue and orange. The best is yet to come for these younger players, but for now, we can appreciate what may be the final games in an Islanders uniform for some veterans.