We know that the New York Islanders need to retool. The season isn't over, but bridging the gap between them and the teams in a playoff position would be nothing short of miraculous.
The focus is on what needs to change in order for the Islanders to get back to where they feel they deserve to be. In a playoff spot. So...what are they missing to make that jump to a post-season spot?
New York Islanders: What are they looking for in retool?
Top Line Forward
Stop me if you've heard this before, but the Islanders need a top-line forward. Mathew Barzal is without a doubt a top-line player, but after him, the Isles don't really have any other clear top-line players.
They make it work. But as you can imagine that isn't good enough on most nights. The Islanders have enough middle-six talent to go around but that isn't enough anymore.
There are nights when the Islanders are the better team out on the ice but are missing that cutting edge to turn that into a win. Teams like Washington, Boston, or Pittsburgh (to name just a few) don't have that issue. They have top-end players to lead the line offensively instead of relying on a parade of middle-six guys.
There are a few interesting options that could be available in free agency. Namely, Johnny Gaudreau and Filip Forsberg stand out. Either one of them would be ideal for the Islanders. But they'll be in high demand if they even reach free agency.
In terms of trades I keep thinking Patrik Laine would be perfect but how likely is Columbus to move a player like Laine to a division rival? Not for cheap at last.
Top 4 Defender
With Devon Toews and then Nick Leddy being traded away there was a clear need in the Islanders top-four. And that was never quite filled. Sure, Zdeno Chara was brought in but we all knew that wasn't a top-four guy.
Chara and Greene, and maybe even Scott Mayfield might be out before the start of the 2022-23 season. The Islanders can replace Mayfield with Grant Hutton. They can also replace one of Chara and Greene with Robin Salo, but that still leaves one whole on the blueline.
Jakub Chychrun is still the main target to fill this gap. He's young. Affordable. Controllable. And he can put up points. The perfect fit for the Islanders. Can they pull it off with the pieces they have without losing a roster piece is another question.
Both a top-line winger and a top-four defender are what the islanders need to bring in for this retool to work. Obviously, it's easier said than done, but that is the shopping list for Lou Lamoriello this offseason.