The NY Islanders made the playoffs in 2022-23 after missing out the previous season, but their limitations showed in a six-game defeat at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes. The Canes simply were faster, more skilled, and got the job done in overtime to take down the blue and orange in the first round. This offseason now becomes very important for the Isles who need to make moves to compete with a strong Eastern Conference that continues to get stronger.
Fans are used to GM Lou Lamoriello staying put and having confidence in the group they have right now, but there will be major changes this offseason in all likelihood. The eight-year contracts for Mat Barzal and Bo Horvat kick in on July 1st, making $8.5 million and $9.15 million per year respectively. Josh Bailey is on the books for one more season at $5 million, but all signs point to the longest-tenured Islander being moved after being healthy scratched for many regular season games and all playoff games. The Islanders currently have four pending UFAs in Scott Mayfield, Semyon Varlamov, Pierre Engvall, and Zach Parise, along with RFA Oliver Wahlstrom with only about $5 million in cap space to work with.
Lamoriello is scheduled to be a free agent himself with his contract expiring, but most expect him to return as general manager. Lane Lambert had a polarizing first season behind the bench in the wake of Barry Trotz's departure, mainly due to his dry personality in media availability along with the team having multiple rough stretches during the season. Those stretches can be blamed on injuries and players being forced into roles they are not meant to be in, but Lambert certainly raised some questions about his style of coaching even when players defend him.
Whether the Isles decide to let their free agents walk or decide to make trades, moves need to be made for this group to transform into a contender in a crowded Metropolitan division. There are plenty of skilled players that the Isles could lure in and have a significant role in this year's free-agent class. So, with just under one month until the beginning of the free agent frenzy, here are five players the Islanders should realistically try and make a push for.