Islanders Need a New Plan A to Upgrade Roster

2022 NHL Draft - Round 2-7
2022 NHL Draft - Round 2-7 / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Nikolaj Ehlers
Winnipeg Jets v Toronto Maple Leafs / Claus Andersen/GettyImages

Nikolaj Ehlers

Who really knows what's going on with the Winnipeg Jets? They didn't make any splashes on day one of free agency, Pierre-Luc Dubois has already informed management he's testing the UFA market in two off-seasons, and captain Blake Wheeler is on the trade market and may find himself in a new sweater next season. Lamoriello should be praying on a decomposing roster with the hopes that he can pluck Nikolaj Ehlers.

Kyle Connor is likely going to be too rich to acquire after the 25-year-old sniper had a 47-goal, 93-point season in 2021-22. Ehlers on the other hand could be a little less costly, although it'll still feel expensive for the Islanders. Regardless, Ehlers is a speedy winger who has the knack for both dishing and finishing. The Danish winger is a six-time 20-plus goal scorer, scoring 25 or more goals in four of those six seasons. Yet another player who would slot well with Barzal, Ehlers has the speed to match Barzal's making for an enticing duo.

Ehlers is cost controlled with a $6 million AAV over the next three seasons. One obstacle Lamoriello could face is that Ehlers owns a 10-team no-trade list, however, the chance to play with Barzal could keep the Islanders off that list. It's an awkward time for the Jets and if there is any sign that the Jets could ultimately tear it down, Lamoriello should be first in line to the fire sale.

There's no doubt that no matter the acquisition it will be costly. Kadri will command a decently high AAV, or trade acquisitions will cost Lamoriello coveted picks, prospects, and maybe even a roster player. However, Lamoriello and the Islanders don't have the luxury to sit around, wait, and ultimately settle for less. The Islanders need an impact forward, and they need one now. The cost doesn't matter at this point if the goal is to return to the playoffs and ultimately, Stanley Cup contention.