As the Islanders prepare to come out of there All-Star break and start the unofficial second half of their 2019-20 season, all eyes are focusing on general manager Lou Lamoriello.
The NHL trade deadline is less than a month away on Feb. 24 and it’s becoming painfully obvious that the Islanders need to make a deal to keep their perch as a playoff team sturdy.
Fueled by a franchise-record 17-game point streak from Oct. 12- Nov. 23 that saw the Islanders win 15 of 17 games, Lamoriello has seen his team sputter over the better part of the last five weeks.
Since Dec. 17, New York is 7-8-3 to drop 10 points behind the Metropolitan Division-leading Washington Capitals for first place and four behind the second-place Pittsburgh Penguins.
While the team’s normally resolute defense has bent — and sometimes broken — during that stretch, the Islanders’ offense remains a glaring liability.
Over their last 11 games, the Islanders have averaged just 2.63 goals per game. And that includes an eight-goal explosion against the lowly Detroit Red Wings.
Take that game out those average goals per game drop to 2.1 over their last 10.
At least one top-six winger could do wonders for the Islanders’ offense, which has struggled to get consistent production from Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle, Josh Bailey, and Anthony Beauvillier.
There are a few issues, however, with the Islanders’ trade hopes this offseason.
As it stands, the Islanders don’t have many expendable young talents that will appeal to selling teams.
Young defenseman Noah Dobson is (rightfully) untouchable while the likes of Oliver Wahlstrom and Kieffer Bellows are leaving something to be desired.
The Islanders could flirt with the idea of giving up one of their first-round draft picks, but the talent pool is far less impressive compared to last year’s trade market.
At the 2019 deadline, the NHL world was tracking every move of Matt Duchene, Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, Kevin Hayes, Ryan Dzingel, and Gustav Nyquist.
This season, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Anthony Duclair, Tyler Toffoli, and Jesse Puljujarvi aren’t necessarily worth a first-round draft pick even though Ottawa’s Duclair and Pageau would rank first and third respectively in goals if they played for the Islanders this season
Lamoriello isn’t the kind of executive to sacrifice his long-term plans for a “go for it now” mentality. Even when desperate times should warrant somewhat desperate measures.
The Islanders are back in action on Feb. 1 against the Vancouver Canucks, which is their first of 12 games before the trade deadline.