The New York Islanders have obviously had a quiet beginning to the off-season thus far. Isles Co-owner, Jon Ledecky, recently backed GM Lou Lamoriello and his “plan”. Hearing the owner support Lamoriello, is it enough for fans to have confidence that the team will be improved by the fall?
An unfortunate pattern of missing out on impact players has developed under Lamoriello when it comes to top free agent targets. Since joining the Islanders, Lamoriello has lost out on John Tavares, Artemi Panarin, and now Johnny Gaudreau.
The “plan” cannot always include losing out on your first option to be successful. Unless that is part of the plan. In 2018, the Islanders failed to retain pending free agent Tavares and never replaced him.
Essentially, the money seemed to have been saved for the following off-season to sign the high-profile Panarin. Once he signed with the rival, New York Rangers, Lamoriello again didn't properly improve the roster.
Later that season, the Islanders were in a playoff position at the trade deadline. Lamoriello made a trade for a top deadline target, J.G. Pageau, and then immediately signed him to a long-term extension. The Islanders achieved two extended playoff runs after the acquisition of the multi-tool centerman.
Could this be part of the plan? Attempt to make a splash in the offseason and if Lamoriello swings and misses address the need again at the following trade deadline? If the season starts well then you have the space to make an acquisition later, but if last season repeats itself it might be time to start considering a different direction for the Islanders' future. Maybe it's time to dump players for future assets.
It is a risky plan, but stranger things have fallen on GMs laps for taking the patient route. Big-time player, Ryan Smyth, was acquired at the deadline in the final minutes bringing star power to the Islanders for a playoff run. It's not the best plan for Lamoriello, but there's certainly a pattern here given that's how Pageau and Kyle Palmieri began their Islander careers.
Maybe Lamoriello's silence means there's a potential trade in the works that we'll learn about in the coming weeks or maybe things wait till the season has begun. Either way, Lamoriello does eventually pull through to improve the team. Whether things fall in place for the plan to succeed, only time will tell.