As the hockey world waits for the inevitable signing of Nazem Kadri to the NY Islanders, what else does GM Lou Lamoriello have in store for the anxious Isles fans? NHL Insider Kevin Weekes of ESPN, NHL Network, and TSN recently reported that the Islanders will have "at least four transactions' to announce when Lamoriello finally reveals his summer work.
Naturally, the Islanders have some in-house business to take care of as restricted free agents Noah Dobson, Alexander Romanov, and Kieffer Bellows remain unsigned. Those three plus the inevitable Kadri signing adds up to four transactions, but Weekes alluded to the fact that it's possible there could be more. So what else could Lamoriello have up his sleeve?
Decisions to Make
In a perfect world, the Islanders will be able to announce the Kadri, Dobson, Romanov, and Bellows signings after having to just part with one contract to clear up cap space. Semyon Varlamov, Josh Bailey, and Anthony Beauvillier have been the subject of trade speculation with the two formers spoken about in a cap dump situation.
Kadri certainly makes the Islanders a better team in the short-term, but does adding the London, Ontario native alone give new head coach Lane Lambert enough of a lineup boost to get his team back into the playoffs?
As deep as the Islanders are at center, the addition of Kadri will certainly strengthen the top six. But for Lamoriello to change the narrative of his summer work or lack thereof, he may need to perform some magic and acquire an additional forward with the plethora of centers the Islanders will have.
A name surfacing in the trade rumors has been J.G. Pageau. Pageau has a $5 million dollar cap hit but is a valuable piece of the core group of the Islanders.
Pageau is one of the better centermen in the NHL in the face-off dot and on the penalty kill and is certainly best at both on the Islanders. He brings some scoring punch, too, and grinds opponents down in his own end. He is what many call a “glue” guy.
Over the course of Lamoriello’s tenure with the Islanders, he has brought many depth players to the team. That may be the very reason the team is in this predicament currently, where they need more offensive punch. With Kadri likely to play in a center role, would it be worth losing the value of Pageau for a scoring winger?
There's speculation that Lamoriello could circle back to the Vancouver Canucks after the trade at the 2022 NHL Draft fell apart at the table that could have potentially sent J.T. Miller to the Islanders. Miller has one year left on his contract at $5.25 million and scored 32 goals and 95 points last season. He would certainly be a boost for the Islanders on offense, however, if it comes at the cost of Pageau and more, the Islanders would certainly be sacrificing defense and their best penalty-killing forward by trading the soon-to-be 30-year-old center.
Trading Pageau for scoring help on the wing is certainly a possibility because of the potential Kadri signing. Bringing in a scoring winger in addition to Kadri changes the dynamic of the Islanders who are primarily known for being a defensive club. The Islanders averaged 2.79 goals per game last season, so of course, they'll want to add scoring help, but the question remains if they'll be able to continue to keep the puck out of their own net if they end up sacrificing Pageau.