As most hockey fans in the metropolitan area continued to refresh their Twitter pages for Johnny Gaudreau news, the expected happened. Gaudreau finalized a contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets rather than the rumored possibility of landing with the New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, or Philadelphia Flyers.
The failure to acquire a star forward is a continued theme for the Islanders under Lou Lamoriello. The team is not quite the Stanley Cup contender they were once thought of as, but is certainly a threat to climb back into the playoffs. As everyone waited for Gaudrea’s decision, many free agent forwards signed with new clubs, seemingly a plethora of missed opportunities for Lamoriello.
Whether those players were ever an option or not for Lamoriello, we will never know. But what is known is that the options are dwindling to improve Islanders' roster and the free agent market doesn't seem to provide an answer.
Beyond overpaying for Nazem Kadri, the options on the market are not much better than the internal possibilities. The trade market iseems to be Lamoriello's best course of action at this point despite not really knowing who would be available.
If the Islanders were to dip into the remaining free agent pool, they may want to strengthen the final spot on defense and/or maybe take a chance on a low-risk, high-reward forward. Former Islander, Calvin de Haan is still on the market and could be a serviceable option to fill the Islanders' sixth spot on their blueline. The former Islanders first-round draft pick has always struggled with health but provides steady play when healthy.
de Haan would round out a very solid top 6 filling out the third pair to play with Scott Mayfield. Robin Salo, Sebastian Aho, or Grant Hutton are all viable options as well who could rotate in for de Haan with the possibility of injury. Lamoriello would not have to break the bank on de Haan either, which could allow for a trade deadline acquisition.
A forward with solid upside who played alongside the skilled Trevor Zegras last season is Long Island native, Sonny Milano. Milano has shown flashes of solid offense, scoring 14 goals and 20 assists in 66 games last season with the Anaheim Ducks.
A former 16th overall pick, Milano would welcome a fresh start very close to home and like de Haan, Milano should not cost much and leaves room for Lamoriello to make in-season transactions. Neither de Haan nor Milano are superstars, but they both would immediately make the Islanders better than they are today.