Islanders Hire Jim Paliafito

New York Islanders v Montreal Canadiens
New York Islanders v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

The New York Islanders' front office just got a bit stronger in the European market. Isles GM Lou Lamoriello has brought Jim Paliafito over from his role with the Toronto Maple Leafs and is expected to be the Isles expert in the European free-agent market.

To be clear, Paliafito specializes in European free agents. For example, Paliafito was instrumental in luring Russian winger Alexander Barabanov, Ilya Mikheyev, Nikita Zaitsev, and most recently Mikko Lehtonen.

Jonas Siegel of The Athletic states:

He’s part scout, part recruiter, and has earned a reputation as someone who gets the job done when it comes to finding and securing overseas talent. It’s why Dan Milstein, the agent for Barabanov and Mikheyev, often refers to him as a 'closer.'
Jonas Siegel

So what does this mean for the Islanders? Well, in years past, the Islanders haven't quite had the best of luck with the free-agent talent hailing from Europe. Back in 2018, the Isles were able to lure Jan Kovar, a KHL superstar who averaged more than a point per game overseas. After failing to make the NHL roster, Kovar refused to report to Bridgeport and ultimately left the organization to return to Europe where he continued his career.

Paliafito's role will be to not only attempt to lure some of the top European talent to the Islanders but also to help prevent situations such as the Kovar debacle.

He knows deeply what he’s doing and how to evaluate a hockey player, and not only evaluate a hockey player, evaluate a hockey player to the needs of the team, which I think is a great contribution to any organization.
Peter Wallen, a player agent

Paliafito has the reputation to be ahead of the game in recruiting talent from overseas. When the Vegas Golden Knights started their attempts to sign Mikheyev, Paliafito had been in contact with Mikheyev for over a year already.

Then, when Mikheyev first arrived in Toronto to begin his NHL career, Paliafito came up from his home in Kentucky – a nine-hour drive – to pick him up at the airport.
Jonas Siegel

Paliafito is well respected around the NHL as one of the league's best, if not THE best recruiter of European talent. He's deemed the best by the likes of player agent Dan Milstein, Ilya Sorokin's agent, as well as many other NHLers from Europe. It's safe to say that the Islanders will now be players in European markets for the foreseeable future. And one wonders, with Mikheyev's name in play via trade this offseason, might he now be lured to the Islanders?