Recent Islanders signings: The Good, The Great and The Ugly

Carolina Hurricanes v New York Islanders - Game Two
Carolina Hurricanes v New York Islanders - Game Two / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Over the years, free agency has not been all too friendly to the New York Islanders. Recently, the organization has made its pitches to some of the top free agents including Artemi Panarin, Steven Stamkos, and most recently Johnny Gaudreau. Ultimately, each player opted to continue their career elsewhere.

It is not for a lack of effort when it comes to trying to sign some of the top available names, but the Islanders consistently fail to reel in a big fish. In years past, it has likely been due to the team playing in Nassau Coliseum and the arena's lack of modern amenities along with the inconsistent performances the team was putting in year in and year out.

Now, with a state-of-the-art arena and a team who has advanced to the semi-finals in two of the past three seasons, the organization is running out of excuses. Failing to bring Gaudreau back to the east coast to be near his family is only the latest failed pitch made by the front office. This time, the excuses the organization can make are in short supply.

With all the frustration the fan base has endured, as other teams are hitting on their free agent targets, it is not to say the islanders have completely struck out. They've had some players come in and have an immediate, positive impact, or at least inject some excitement into the fan base.


Columbus Blue Jackets v New York Islanders
Columbus Blue Jackets v New York Islanders / Abbie Parr/GettyImages

Even though he technically was not a free agent signing, Jaroslav Halak was signed by the Islanders on May 1, 2014. According to CapFriendly, the Slovakian netminder agreed to a four-year $18 million contract a few weeks after his rights were acquired from the Washington Capitals in exchange for a fourth-round pick.

The team had been desperate for a mainstay between the pipes for years, failing to qualify for the playoffs only once in the previous six seasons. During his four seasons on Long Island, the team made two postseason appearances, posting a .913 Save for % and 2.69 GAA.


Carolina Hurricanes v New York Islanders - Game Two
Carolina Hurricanes v New York Islanders - Game Two / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Days after John Tavares left for Toronto, the Islanders still held other needs to fill, including one in the net. GM Lou Lamoriello decided to take a chance on the talented, but erratic Robin Lehner signing him to a one-year $1.5 million contract. After posting pedestrian numbers in his final season in Buffalo, Lehner needed the Isles and the Isles needed Lehner.

Shortly after signing with the Islanders, Lehner decided to make his struggles with substance abuse and thoughts of suicide, public. In an article posted to The Athletic, by himself, Lehner goes into detail about the demons he faced throughout his career up unitil that point.

Since the new year began I had been feeling severely depressed and my drinking increased. I was heavily drinking a case of beer a day just to settle the demons in my mind and then took pills to sleep. I was self-treating myself because I could not be inside my own head by myself. The thoughts of ending it all … it was real and close.
Robin Lehner

After opening up about the struggles he faced day in and day out, Lehner started to come into his own and improve as the season aged. He posted a 2.13 GAA and a .930 Save % and would go on to win the Williams Jennings Trophy alongside Thomas Greiss, while being finalist for the Vezina trophy.

After just one season the organization decided to move on from Lehner when they decided to sign Semyon Varlamov. Lehner made a massive connection with the fan base in his short time with the Islanders. The fans had such an impact on Lehner and his career that he decided to have Long Island permanently imprinted on his skin.


Though the front office may have hit on a couple of goalies, when it comes to forwards, the team has missed over and over. Even though his time with the Islanders ended up being quite disappointing, the signing of Andrew Ladd at least brought some excitement to the fans.

After missing out on signing Steven Stamkos, the organization ultimately turned to former Winnipeg Jets captain, Andrew Ladd. After losing Kyle Okposo to Buffalo and Frans Nielsen to Detroit, Ladd signed a seven-year $38.5 million contract on the first day of free agency in 2016.

The organization was about to begin its second season at the Barclays Center and needed to add a winger to play alongside Tavares. Ladd, a former Stanley Cup winner, was expected to bring leadership along with goal-scoring to the Islanders' top six.

Carolina Hurricanes v New York Islanders
Carolina Hurricanes v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Neither of the two ultimately came to fruition. In Ladd's first two seasons with the Isles, he played 78 and 73 games, respectively. After that, he only appeared in 28 games for the remainder of his time in blue and orange. He finished his time with the organization tallying only 39 goals and 32 assists before he was eventually sent to Arizona in a cap dump.

As this year's free agent crop is dwindling, the islanders are going to have to look at the trade route and make a "hockey trade" as general manager Lou Lamoriello put it, to have some sort of impact on the current crop of players.