The one saving grace for the NY Islanders this Easter season

We can be thankful the front office has not made this same mistake... for now.

Jun 28, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; The draft board after round one of the 2023 NHL Draft at
Jun 28, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; The draft board after round one of the 2023 NHL Draft at / Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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The NY Islanders do not have much to look forward to come the offseason. With only an estimated $7 million in cap space per Spotrac, the front office will have difficulties signing unrestricted free agents or making trades to better the current roster. Keep in mind, that this cap figure is without coming to agreements with restricted free agents like Simon Holmstrom, Kyle MacLean, and Oliver Wahlstrom

In all likelihood, Lou Lamoriello will have to trade more draft picks if he wants to move contracts and create more cap space. Also keep in mind, that Lamoriello traded a second-round pick to trade Josh Bailey's contract to the Chicago Blackhawks. Following this move, the Islanders signed two contracts that came with critique at the time and have backfired 73 games into the season: Pierre Engvall and Scott Mayfield received 7-year contracts. Suffice it to say, fans are not interested in another offseason built by Lamoriello. However, there is one saving grace this Easter holiday we can look forward to for the first time since June 21, 2019.

The Islanders finally have a first-round draft pick.

June 28th will be different than years past as Islanders fans will have a reason to pay attention. Every season Lamoriello has been general manager except in 2018 and 2019, the organization has traded its first-round draft picks in pursuit of a Stanley Cup Championship. The team traded their 2020 selection for J.G. Pageau, 2021 for Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac, 2022 for Alexander Romanov, and 2023 for Bo Horvat. Even though all of these trades helped the Islanders make the playoffs, the organization has lacked noticeable prospects for quite some time. 

These draft picks have produced young prospects who have each shown promising potential in their own rights. The Isles' 2020 selection was used by the Ottawa Senators to draft centerman Ridly Greig, who has 11 goals, 12 assists, and over 100 hits this season. Their 2021 selection was used by the New Jersey Devils to select right winger Chase Stillman, who has recorded 14 goals for the AHL Utica Comets this season. The 2022 selection was used by the Blackhawks to select Frank Nazar, who has been a top collegiate centerman for the University of Michigan. Finally, their 2023 pick was used by the Detroit Red Wings to select defenseman Axel Sandin Pallikka, whose profile is similar to that of Ryan Pulock.

Suffice it to say, the Islanders would benefit from having all of these players. Given the current roster constitution, the team is desperate for an infusion of younger talent. Lamoriello has drafted well in the later rounds with the promise shown by Ruslan Ishakov, Matthew Maggio, and Aatu Raty, the ladder of whom was traded to the Vancouver Canucks for Horvat. 

However, having their own lottery pick on June 28th will help expedite a rebuild that is most likely coming in future seasons. Lamoriello could make us all gasp and make a draft day trade as he did for Romanov in 2022. Should the front office take this direction, 2024 will be the fifth straight season without a first-round selection. This is not to say every draft pick turns into a star. We remember Garth Snow's blunders in the first round like Michael Dal Colle, Joshua Ho-Sang, and Kieffer Bellows. On the other hand, these picks could net the Islanders another Mathew Barzal. While the draft in every sport truly is a 'crap shoot', we can at least say for the first time in years that the Isles will be involved on day one.