NY Islanders fans can't have it both ways after Lamoriello's silent trade deadline

Mar 7, 2024; San Jose, California, USA; New York Islanders fans celebrate during the second period
Mar 7, 2024; San Jose, California, USA; New York Islanders fans celebrate during the second period / Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Islanders "stood pat" at the trade deadline as GM Lou Lamoriello chose not to make what he called a "lateral move." This has disappointed a segment of the fanbase, pointing out that the Islanders are being labeled trade deadline "losers" by various publications.

These are the same fans who wanted to explore trading Brock Nelson two weeks ago because the Isles were out of it. These fans ridicule Lamoriello for having traded his first-round pick each of the previous four seasons. They will repeatedly tell you that the Islanders aren't a contender.

If all of that is true, why are you upset that the team didn't make a move a the deadline?

The idea of being sellers was probably never really an option, but the door was slammed shut on that after the team's five-game winning streak. They are playing their best hockey of the season and now have a higher points percentage than the Tampa Bay Lightning for the second wild card.

The Detroit Red Wings have lost four straight, and the Isles are now suddenly just two points behind them as well, with a game in hand. The Philadelphia Flyers are four points up, having played two more games. In other words, the Islanders now control their playoff destiny.

“Our players and our team determine what would happen on a day like this,” said Lamoriello to the media on Friday. “There's no question that I feel good about who we are and where we are certainly at this point. “We did not feel that we could have upgraded.”

The Islanders did not have the cap space nor the assets to bring in a top-six forward or top-pair defenseman. It wasn't going to happen. They weren't going to players for Tomas Hertl or Noah Hanifin, both of which ended in Vegas. I'm sure fans would have loved the six years remaining on the 30-year-old Hertl's contract, right? Please. We also know that trading a first-round pick is only happening if Lamoriello sees the player as someone he can retain long term.

You can't simultaneously say that the Islanders aren't good enough to be a player away and then be upset when they don't bring in a player for a "go for it" move. Realistically, they were looking at bringing in a depth forward and measuring that up against what the Islanders have now and the risk of inserting a new player into a lineup that has finally come together under Patrick Roy.

They already brought in Mike Reilly this season and Robert Bortuzzo on the backend. Kyle MacLean has been a surprise addition since his call-up from Bridgeport. It's not as if the lineup has remained completely stagnant without changes on the periphery.

Lamoriello chose to consider the chemistry of the team when determining whether an acquisition was going to improve the team, and if the perceived difference was negligible, he was always going to lean toward the players he knew best. He's sticking with those that have been part of this in-season journey that has them finally playing the type of hockey that could land them in the post-season.

It's true that the Islanders might be in that "mushy middle," as one publication called it. A team is not good enough to contend for a Stanley Cup and not bad enough to sell off and rebuild. There's truth to that, but it's insincere to label them a "loser" at the deadline because of it.

Lamoriello chose not to make a trade just to make a trade. It may have gotten his team off the "loser" list, but it wouldn't have helped them be winners this season or beyond.