Islanders rumors: What scoring options are out there? What can be dealt in 2023 offseason?

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William Nylander Islanders rumors
Toronto Maple Leafs right wing William Nylander (88) works for the puck against New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (86) and defenseman Damon Severson during the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, March 7, 2023 in Newark, N.J.
AP Photo/Noah K. Murray

The Islanders find themselves between the proverbial rock and hard place this offseason.

Not only do they need to address a number of free agents — restricted, unrestricted, and looming — like a long-term deal for Ilya Sorokin, potentially something for his backup Semyon Varlamov, and other potential deals for Zach Parise, Pierre Engvall, and Scott Mayfield, but they still need to improve their roster.

And they need to do so with a projected $5.3 million in cap space, per CapFriendly.

They still lack a well-rounded arsenal of firepower up front, which should become a priority when considering both Mathew Barzal and Bo Horvat will be together for the next eight years — and the fact that a lack of scoring and capable power play undid their hopes in the playoffs yet again. 

Here we take a look at what options on both the free-agency and trade markets are out there and what assets the Islanders still have left in the thinning tank to potentially move. 

What do the Islanders need?

Islanders Kraken Bo Horvat
New York Islanders center Bo Horvat (14) celebrates with teammates Sebastian Aho (25) and Mathew Barzal (13) after scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Seattle Kraken Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Specifically within their scoring need is legitimate options on the wing outside Brock Nelson, who flirted with 40 goals for a second-consecutive season. Barzal is a playmaker that needs a sniper — and in their limited regular-season run together before he got hurt, Horvat provided that.

At least at this point, the two will remain together to begin their near-decade run on Long Island together, meaning Barzal’s shift from center to wing to make room for Horvat could be permanent. One more imposing scoring option to flank the other side of Horvat would potentially create one of the top lines in hockey to build around and, more importantly, also improve on a power play that was the worst in the NHL down the stretch and into the playoffs.

5 unrestricted free-agent forward options

Jason Zucker
Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Jason Zucker (16) shoots against New York Rangers defenseman Adam Fox (23) and goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, March 16, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)AP Photos
Name Position Age 2022-23 team 2022-23 stats 2022-23 cap hit
Jason Zucker LW 31 Pittsburgh Penguins 27 goals, 21 assists, 48 poitns $5.5 million
Michael Bunting LW 27 Toronto Maple Leafs 23 goals, 26 assists, 49 points $950,000
Patrick Kane RW 34 Chicago Blackhawks/New York Rangers 21 goals, 36 assists, 57 points $10.5 million
Max Domi LW 28 Chicago Blackhawks/Dallas Stars 20 goals, 36 assists, 56 points $3 million
Vladimir Tarasenko RW 31 St. Louis Blues/New York Rangers 18 goals, 32 assists, 50 points

$7.5 million

There are obviously some extenuating circumstances within this list that makes at least two of these options unfeasible — but it’s important to note their availability, regardless. Kane could very well be undergoing hip surgery this offseason and his health will be a major factor come July 1. We could very well see his market stay cold until August or September. There’s also the fact that Kane demanded his way out of Chicago to join the Rangers, who were the only team on his list of teams he’d play for. 

Such a jump across town would also be difficult for Tarasenko, who had been on the Islanders’ radar in recent years but has seen his scoring production slow.


5 players that could be on the trade market

Mark Scheifele
Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele (55) reacts towards Kyle Connor (81) after scoring a goal in front of New York Rangers left wing Alexis Lafreniere (13) in the third period of an NHL hockey game Monday, Feb. 20, 2023, in New York. The Jets won 4-1. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Name Position Age 2022-23 team 2022-23 stats 2023-24 cap hit
Mark Scheifele C 30 Winnipeg Jets 42 goals, 26 assists, 68 points $6.125 million
William Nylander C 27 Toronto Maple Leafs 40 goals, 47 assists, 87 points $6.9 million
Pierre-Luc Dubois LW 24 Winnipeg Jets 27 goals, 36 assists, 63 points Restricted Free Agent
Alex DeBrincat RW 25 Ottawa Senators 27 goals, 39 assists, 66 points Restricted Free Agent
Brock Boeser RW 26 Vancouver Canucks 18 goals, 37 assists, 55 points $6.65 million

Yes, two centers are listed here, but Scheifele and Nylander provide the sort of talent that either would cost considerable player capital or force players within the Islanders’ lineup to shift around. The rebuilding Jets are a prime trade partner for the Islanders to explore considering they could very well part ways with not only Scheifele and Dubois but also goalie Connor Hellebuyck and Blake Wheeler. Regardless, the prices of each of these options will understandably be high — which leads us to our next portion.


What do the Islanders have left to trade?

William Dufour Islanders
William Dufour

A thinning farm system and a lack of draft capital don’t make the Islanders the most desirable of trade partners for teams looking to pull off a blockbuster. And if Lou Lamoriello wants to land a big fish, he’ll have to give to get. 

Oliver Wahlstrom would be a must for most teams who want to negotiate with the Islanders. The 22-year-old winger has the shot to become an above-average sniper in the NHL and he’s working on his physicality to become a commendable power forward. As he rehabs from a season-ending knee injury suffered back in December, the Islanders might be keen on giving him an opportunity to show that he can be a top-line guy to complete that Barzal/Horvat line. 

Down in the farm, the Islanders have already parted ways with their top prospect in Aatu Raty in the Horvat deal with Vancouver. William Dufour, who won the Memorial Cup and the competition’s MVP award two seasons ago in the QMJHL with 56 goals and 60 assists would be another target. In 69 games with the Islanders’ AHL affiliate this season, he potted 21 goals with 27 assists in 69 games.

Matthew Maggio has also emerged as a blue-chip prospect for the Islanders as well, posting 54 goals and 57 assists with the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL and winning Most Outstanding Player honors — an award won by the likes of Connor McDavid.

In order to shed cap space to fit some potentially bloated contracts, the Islanders will have to figure out a way to get Josh Bailey’s $5 million cap hit off the books.

They could also look for a way to deal other sizable contracts like Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s $5 million. He would garner plenty of interest from teams looking to round out their bottom six with a bona fide two-way center who is good in the face-off circle, but he’s also valuable to the Islanders’ identity under Lamoriello.

Any deal would have to be player heavy considering the Islanders don’t have much to offer in the draft-pick cabinet. They don’t have their first-rounder this year (given to Montreal for Alexander Romanov) or their third-rounder, but have their first and second-round picks in each of the next two years.

For more on the Islanders, visit AMNY.com