Islanders trade rumors: Still on the hunt for a scoring winger?

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Lou Lamoriello Islanders
Lou Lamoriello (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)

Despite their current cap situation and the steady transmission that there is faith in the current group, the New York Islanders still appeared to be testing the market for more goals. 

Sportsnet and NHL Network insider Elliotte Friedman reported this weekend that he still believes the Islanders are actively looking, though the notion of making a push for free-agent winger Vladimir Tarasenko is “possibly a bad match and not going to happen.”

Rangers need to turn the page for Game 5
New York Rangers’ Vladimir Tarasenko (91) looks to pass during the second period of Game 4 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series against the New Jersey Devils Monday, April 24, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)AP Photos

Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello will have to execute some financial gymnastics if he does want to add one more piece to the puzzle, regardless of who that talent might be. His team is currently over the cap by nearly $500,000 after Oliver Wahlstrom accepted his qualifying offer on July 17 and a goal-scoring winger that could potentially be slotted into the first line alongside Bo Horvat and Mathew Barzal would carry a considerable cost. 

A sizable contract would have to be cleared, and veteran center Jean-Gabriel Pageau and his $5 million cap hit remain the logical target to move. His name popped up in trade rumors surrounding Alex DeBrincat, but a package that included him and Wahlstrom was not enough to get the two-time 40-goal scorer from the Ottawa Senators, who was dealt to the Detroit Red Wings instead. 

The Islanders already got Josh Bailey’s $5 million cap hit off the books earlier this offseason, which allowed them to re-sign free agents Scott Mayfield, Semyon Varlamov, and Pierre Engvall while securing star netminder Ilya Sorokin to an eight-year extension. 

Outside of Tarasenko, who still only scored 18 goals last season, goals aren’t all that abundant on the free-agent market. Patrick Kane, who is 34 years old and recovering from hip surgery, scored 21 goals last season with the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers.

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 trade market does provide an additional challenge for the Islanders, who don’t boast a ton of assets for a blockbuster for a game-changing winger like William Nylander — a 40-goal scorer who has been in trade rumors as he looks for a massive contract. They traded their top prospect in Aatu Raty, along with Anthony Beauvillier and a first-rounder to the Vancouver Canucks for Bo Horvat in January. 

William Dufour and Matthew Maggio have shot up prospect rankings in the last two years, but that would deplete an already-thin Islanders system that hasn’t had much of an opportunity to build given their willingness to trade its draft capital. 

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