NY Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello defends trading first round draft picks

2022 NHL Draft - Round 2-7
2022 NHL Draft - Round 2-7 / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

New York Islanders General Manager Lou Lamoriello hears the criticism, although, after four decades running hockey teams, it's unlikely it affects his way of thinking.

Among the critiques of his Islanders tenure has been that the Islanders have not made a first-round draft pick since 2019, trading their top selection during the season or at the draft as they did in 2022 when they moved the 13th pick to the Montreal Canadiens for 22-year-old defenseman Alexander Romanov.

In early February, Lamoriello used his draft pick capital once again, moving a Top-12 protected first pick in the 2023 NHL Draft to the Vancouver Canucks in a package for highly coveted 27-year-old center Bo Horvat. If the Islanders fail to make the playoffs and the pick ends up 13th or higher, it will be the fourth consecutive season that the Islanders do not make a first-round selection, the only team in the NHL to go that long without having done so.

Bo Horvat
Detroit Red Wings v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

"It's interesting when I hear about the trading of the first picks, Lamoriello said in an interview with MSG Networks Shannon Hogan that aired before Saturday's 4-1 win over Detroit. "Because the first picks we did move along, we were able to sign the player, all players that we did give up the pick for, whether Pageau, whether it be Palmieri or whether it be Bo now."

"There's a difference between how you use that pick and what that pick can do for your team at that given time, and that pick, depending on where it located as well, as far as the player you might get."

While the Islanders appear to have selected later-round draft picks with higher ceilings over the last few seasons, including William Dufour and Matthew Maggio, their prospect pool is regularly rated near the bottom of the league, and with the current core of the roster getting older; fans and observers wonder whether that will limit the team's ability to take the next step toward a perennial Stanley Cup contender without affordable young talent that can round out and elevate the roster.

For now, that is not something Lamoriello is concerned about. It's about the here and now, which means that if he has to trade a first round pick to acquire the right player in the right situation, one where he is not a rental, but one that can be part of the core for the next four, five years or longer, he will continue to do just that.