The New York Islanders had a strong draft night when Lou Lamoriello shipped his first-round draft pick (13th overall) to the Montreal Canadiens for 22-year-old Alexander Romanov. Now the Isles need to add a scoring winger to their top-six to help improve their scoring and their power-play.
The Islanders can now check the lefty puck-moving defenseman off their summer to-do list. Romanov will most likely be paired with Noah Dobson. As of right now, it appears as though the third pairing could be Scott Mayfield and Robin Salo. Adding a veteran defenseman to be that extra guy on the 23-man roster is still something Lamoriello has to do this summer.
That leaves the other big item on Lamoriello's off-season to-do list and that is to add and improve the top-six with a scoring winger.
The first question is what scoring wingers are available whether it be unrestricted free agency or via the trade market. If the Isles want to hoist the Stanley Cup next season they need to figure out which route they'll take to add one.
In terms of the UFA market will Johnny Gaudreau, Filip Forsberg, Valeri Nichushkin, and Andre Burakovsky go unsigned until July 13th? Calgary and Nashville desperately want to re-sign their star first-line wingers. There have also been whispers Colorado is close to a deal with Nichushkin. They also have Burakovsky, but it's more likely he'll become a UFA. However, as of right now, both will be available come next week (remember Nathan McKinnon is due for a significant pay raise after next season).
So will the Isles have options for a scoring winger when free agency opens up next week? Isles made a huge offer a couple of summers ago for Artemi Panarin. Will Lamoriello be willing to do that again this summer say for... Gaudreau?
In terms of trades, it seems that JT Miller and Vladimir Tarasenko are on the market for sure. Mathew Tkachuk and Patrick Kane could be on the market as well if they are not already, but the latter appears more likely than the former. Tkachuk is currently a restricted free agent, and the rest are in the last year of their contracts and will be UFA's next summer.
The Blackhawks will probably be willing to eat a big chunk of Kane's $10.5 million cap hit. The bad news is it'll take a big haul for them to part with one of the most dynamic players in the game, a dangerous gamble for a one-year rental if the two sides can't agree to an extension. Kane possesses a no-move clause so the Hawks need his permission to trade him.
There could be other options out there as well not listed above. No one saw Romanov coming so it's easy to see Lamoriello doing something similar at forward. The bottom line is if the Islanders want to not only make the playoffs but return to Stanley Cup contention, they have to upgrade their top-six forward group.