Retooling the Islanders For 2022-2023
By Matt O'Leary
2021-2022 has not been the year the New York Islanders were hoping for. Now, I am not ready to throw in the towel completely on the season but *if* the Islanders are way out of it at the trade deadline, well then they might need to sell.
There's different variations of sell, there's blow it up (not what I'm advising the Islanders do) and then there's trade off a couple expiring contracts. It's the latter that I'm talking about.
Okay, so the first question we have to answer is who can the Islanders sell? The two names that come to mind are Zach Parise and Zdeno Chara.
2022 NHL Trade Deadline
Zach Parise Trade
I actually have loved Parise's game so I'd be sad to see him go but if they are out of it then flipping him to a contender would be worthwhile. Enter the St. Louis Blues who are fighting for a playoff spot and looking for depth scoring. In return for Parise, I'm looking for a 2022 third round pick. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a team to bite on a second but if you can get a third rounder for someone who won't be on the roster next year in a lost season, you do it.
Compensation: 2022 3rd Round Pick
Zdeno Chara Trade
Big Z! It was fun while it lasted, kind of. Well, the Islanders would have no use for a 45-year-old but what about a team that is going to the playoffs who haven't been able to get over the hump and could use a veteran leader? Yes, we're talking about the Toronto Maple Leafs. They don't have a third-round pick this year so instead, Lou Lamoriello does like the Andy Greene trade where he sends a second-rounder from the following year in return, but instead, it's the other way around. Toronto doesn't care about 2023 picks they're feeling the pressure to win a series.
Compensation: 2023 2nd Round Pick
Cal Clutterbuck: 2-years $3 million ($1.5 million AAV)
Robin Salo: 2-years $1.5 million ($750,000 AAV)
Sebastian Aho: 1-year $750,000
Noah Dobson: 2-years $5 million ($2.5 million AAV)
Austin Czarnik: 2-years $1.6 million ($800,000 AAV)
Kieffer Bellows: 2-years $1.8 million ($900,000 AAV)
Cal Clutterbuck is retained in order to stick the fourth line together for a couple more years. Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz just don't want to see it go, and I think they retain him on the cheap. Robin Salo and Noah Dobson get bridge deals, while Sebastian Aho is brought back to be the seventh d-man.
As for Austin Czarnik and Kieffer Bellows they battle it out for the third line role (you'll see why in a minute). Whoever wins gets to play on the Pageau line while the other is the 13th forward. Heck, as expected Barry Trotz could even rotate them around if need be and switch it up.
Semyon Varlamov to Edmonton for 2022 1st Round Pick
Semyon Varlamov has a modified no trade clause but as we know, Lou Lamoriello has gotten players to waive those before. The Oilers are in desperate need of good goalie play and it seems obvious that this is becoming Ilya Sorokin's team here on the Island. The goalie market is a strange one but someone will take a swing on Varly if you dangle him out there and it genuinely wouldn't be shocking to get a first rounder back for someone who has been steady the last three years on the Island and someone with playoff success under their belt too. Keep in mind for this next trade, why I looked for a first in return.
2022 1st Round Pick, Antony Beauvillier, Aatu Raty to Arizona for Jakob Chychrun
Jakob Chychrun is exactly what the Islanders need. A young, offensive-minded d-man who can carry the puck. He has three more years remaining at a $4.6 million cap number too so he is controllable for the foreseeable future. Just this past year, Chychrun scored 18 goals in 56 games from the blue line. That kind of offensive force would be a welcomed addition. Arizona is receiving a first-round pick, inside the top 10 more than likely, an already established young NHL player in Beauvillier, and Raty who is a highly regarded center. For the Coyotes who have a billion picks to work with over the next couple of years, this is the dream for them. Sure, Chychrun will have a lot of suitors and the price could go up but with deadline deals and the Varlamov trade listed above they have more draft capital to add if need be but sending a top-10 pick would be enticing enough to me if I'm Arizona.
Johnny Gaudreau - 7-years $56 million ($8 million AAV)
The Islanders have tried to land a big fish before and have failed but will this finally be the offseason that Lou wrangles one in? Sure, why not get the kid from New Jersey back to the tri-state area. He has 53 goals in his last 163 games played for a pace of 27 goals over an 82 game season. He's also hit 80+ points twice in his career and this year he has 48 points (16 goals, 32 assists) in 37 games. The rumor is he is looking for $8 million a year and if he hits the market, the Islanders will have the cap to do just that. Get Mat Barzal a winger, please.
Craig Anderson - 1-year $1 million
You need a backup, enter the veteran Craig Anderson. Lou loves his vets and Anderson has played well this year playing to a .921 save percentage and a 2.50 goals against average in a backup role with the Buffalo Sabres. In this system, they just need a guy who can hold it down behind Sorokin and be passable. Anderson's career .913 save percentage over 19 seasons is just that.
CAP SPACE REMAINING: $2.1 MILLION
Gaudreau - Barzal - Wahlstrom
Lee - Nelson - Palmieri
Bellows - Pageau - Bailey
Martin - Cizikas - Clutterbuck
Pelech - Pulock
Chychrun - Dobson
Salo - Mayfield
Obviously, this is a very optimistic look at what the Islanders could do. Landing both Gaudreau and Chychrun is likely a big ask but just this past offseason we saw Lou Lamoriello shed himself from Andrew Ladd, Nick Leddy, and Johnny Boychuk. Miracles do happen, and I look at this team potentially needing a retool instead of a full-on rebuild. Yes, 2021-2022 was weird but it doesn't have to mean that the window is closed either.