Islanders trade rumors: Lou Lamoriello could dabble in market for bottom-pairing defenseman

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Islanders Maple Leafs
New York Islanders’ Pierre Engvall (18), Ryan Pulock (6) and Alexander Romanov (28) celebrate with Cal Clutterbuck after Clutterbuck scored a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday, March 21, 2023, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The talk surrounding the Islanders in recent days has understandably revolved around Ottawa Senators’ disgruntled winger Alex DeBrincat and what he could potentially bring to Lou Lamoriello’s bunch.

But the Islanders’ president and general manager also left the door open for a move to address the depth of the team’s defense.

“You’re never 100% comfortable but I’m confident in this group,” Lamoriello said. “You’d always like to get better.”

He specifically alluded to the left side of the third blueline pairing, which would join the newly re-signed Scott Mayfield — a responsibility that forced Alex Romanov to separate from Noah Dobson and bring on a tandem that predominantly featured Sebastian Aho and Samuel Bolduc.

“There is an opening on the left side that is shared by Aho for the most part and Sam Bolduc,” Lamoriello said. “If we can get better and add to that [we will], but this is a solid group.”

Lamoriello’s confidence in his top four remains unwavering. Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock are the Islanders’ top pairing with Lamoriello stating that Pulock was the team’s best defenseman in the postseason.

Then comes the young second pairing of Romanov and Dobson, both of whom are just 23 years old. 

Noah Dobson (center) and Alex Romanov (28). (Patrick Doyle/The Canadian Press via AP)

“I think Noah Dobson has tremendous growth,” Lamoriello said. “Much was expected of him in his sophomore year off of his sort of freshman year. I know where he will go… and the growth of Romanov — he came in and raised his game, especially coming off an injury.”

If the Islanders were to head to the trade market to find another bottom-pairing defensive option, it likely wouldn’t create all that large of a splash considering their salary cap situation. 

As it stands, they have an estimated $1.086 million in cap space after signing Mayfield, Pierre Engvall, Semyon Varlamov, and Ilya Sorokin to new deals. 

Plus, if they are as hot on DeBrincat’s trail as it appears, they’d already have to move a significant contract like JG Pageau’s to Ottawa just to have enough to sign the restricted free agent. So any illusions of grandeur regarding the likes of Erik Karlsson or Noah Hanafin should be limited. 

For more on the Islanders, visit AMNY.com