Uncertainty surrounds Islanders as trade deadline approaches | amNewYork

Uncertainty surrounds Islanders as trade deadline approaches

Johnny Boychuk. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

The New York Islanders remain one of the more enigmatic teams ahead of the NHL’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline on Monday. 

After a barnstorming start to the 2019-20 season, the team has struggled to play .500 hockey since January while their playoff hopes have descended into the throes of uncertainty. 

It’s no secret that the Islanders need a scoring boost to take the next step of contention in the Eastern Conference. They are one of the most inconsistent offensive teams in the NHL, recently coming off a four-game losing streak in which they scored just two goals in a combined 240 minutes of play. 

An inability to find the back of the net has been an overarching theme since general manager Lou Lamoriello and head coach Barry Trotz came in before the 2018-19 season. 

Their defense-first, staunch system combatted the fact that the team was not as skilled as other teams upfront, which led to a surprising 103-point season and an appearance in the Eastern Conference semifinals. 

But the departure of Adam Pelech in early January began an avalanche of poor results as the defense began to bend and pressure on the offense to produce increased. 

It has led to growing shouts from the fan base for Lamoriello to buck the trend of his meager market spending and bring in a scorer to spark the offense. 

And we’re not talking about a secondary scorer, either. 

The Islanders need to make a big splash and add a first-line winger to salvage the final stretch of the season — a move that Lamoriello has whiffed on multiple times since taking over in New York. 

At last year’s trade deadline, he opted not to pursue the likes of Matt Duchene, Mark Stone, or Mike Hoffman. Over the summer, he lost out on Artemi Panarin — though no fault of his own — as the Russian winger opted to take less money to join the Rangers. 

Last week saw Lamoriello break a long trade drought, acquiring defenseman Andy Greene from the New Jersey Devils for his first successful swap since acquiring Matt Martin from the Toronto Maple Leafs prior to the 2018-19 season. 

Standing pat through the trade deadline would suggest that management is not confident that the team is capable of making a deep playoff run even with a notable move that would cost top prospects or draft picks, thus waiting for free agency this summer to improve the roster.

It is difficult to speculate the team’s plans in the final hours before the trade deadline given Lamoriello’s history of keeping his intentions close to the vest. 

However, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported on Saturday that many around the league expect the Islanders to pursue a “big” move. 

That would mean going after the likes of Hoffman, Rangers winger Chris Kreider, Brandon Saad of the Chicago Blackhawks, or Devils forward Kyle Palmieri. 

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