From a transactional standpoint, there was a Lou Lamoriello sighting on Sunday.
The New York Islanders GM pulled off an ever-so-rare trade, acquiring veteran defenseman Andy Greene from the New Jersey Devils for prospect David Quenneville and a 2021 second-round draft pick.
At 37 years old, Greene is an unrestricted free agent following this season, meaning he is purely a rental. It’s an important rental nonetheless as he’ll add some stability to the bottom pairing of the Islanders’ blue line that has struggled since Adam Pelech’s season-ending injury in January.
They’ve relied mostly on 20-year-old Noah Dobson, who is undoubtedly the future of the Islanders’ defensive core. But he has struggled in recent days, especially during Saturday night’s 1-0 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Since Pelech’s injury, the Islanders’ defense has sunk from second-best in the NHL to fifth in the Eastern Conference.
Greene’s acquisition was Lamoriello’s first trade as Islanders GM since he re-acquired Matt Martin from the Toronto Maple Leafs in July of 2018.
It’s a vital first step from Lamoriello during precarious times for the Islanders, but many will be hoping that he isn’t done before the NHL’s Feb. 24 trade deadline.
His inactivity over the past two seasons has provided cause for complaints amongst the Islanders fans base, which has been pleading for another elite scoring talent for over a year now.
Those shouts have only grown louder in recent days when the Islanders were shutout in consecutive days against the Nashville Predators and Golden Knights.
The defense’s struggles over the last six weeks have further enhanced New York’s inconsistent offense.
With 163 goals in 57 games entering Monday’s matinee against the Arizona Coyotes, the Islanders ranked 23rd in the NHL in scoring offense. A plus-8 goal differential is also set to fall woefully short of last year’s plus-32.
Even more concerning is an 8-8-3 record since Pelech’s injury.
As discussed ad-nauseam, the addition of a goal-scoring winger to add on the top six would be vital to the Islanders’ ability to hold onto a playoff spot.
The likes of Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Tyler Toffoli have been linked with the team for weeks now.
But Ottawa’s Pageau has scored just three times in his last 17 games while Toffoli scored three of his 18 goals this season on Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche.
Meanwhile, in Florida, rumors of the Panthers potentially making left-winger Mike Hoffman available, per TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, could provide the Islanders with an avenue to make that high-impact deal before the trade deadline.
Hoffman, whose contract expires this season, is on pace for his second-straight 30-goal season with 21 tallies through 58 games.
He’s been lethal on the power play, too, recording 25 goals on the man-advantage over the past two seasons — which could provide a necessary shot to the arm of the Islanders’ sputtering special teams unit.
Suddenly, the Islanders would have a formidable first line of Hoffman, Mathew Barzal, and Jordan Eberle for the home stretch to spark the offense.
Monday afternoon saw the Islanders place forward Cole Bardreau on waivers, meaning that there is now an open roster spot that could be filled through a trade. However, the corresponding move won’t be discovered until Tuesday.