The Islanders have yet to address their largest need of a goal scorer as the NHL trade deadline on Monday inches ever closer.
Before Wednesday night’s tilt with the Colorado Avalanche, the Islanders were 8-9-3 in their last 20 games while their playoff standing is now precariously in the balance.
Most of that derives from a lack of scoring.
They’ve found the back of the net just 53 times during that 20-game stretch, which is a dismal 2.65 goals-per-game average.
Over their last three appearances prior to Wednesday night, they scored just once.
The players expected to carry the offensive load this season have failed to stay consistent. Anders Lee had one goal in his last nine games before Wednesday while Jordan Eberle had two in his last eight.
Most glaringly, Mathew Barzal had just two goals in his last 23 games.
That’s not nearly the kind of production any NHL team would want from its first line, yet here the Islanders are.
General manager Lou Lamoriello broke an almost-two-year trade drought earlier this week when he acquired veteran defenseman Andy Greene from the New Jersey Devils, but at least one more trade for a forward is needed to re-spark the Islanders’ playoff push.
That relief could come in the form of a crosstown rival — though it remains unlikely.
NHL insider Dave Pagnotta reported on Tuesday that the Islanders were a team with “serious interest” in Rangers forward Chris Kreider.
The 28-year-old speedy winger has been consistent for a sizable chunk of the season, recording 29 points (17 goals, 12 assists) in his last 29 games.
His expiring contract at season’s end and the Rangers’ tight budget makes him a prime trade candidate before Monday’s deadline. His hard-nosed brand of play coupled with his skill would also be the kind of shot in the arm the Islanders need.
However, history suggests that the likelihood of a trade between the Islanders and Rangers is slim.
First off, it would obviously be a difficult move for the Rangers to trade a player they drafted and developed to an in-division archrival to help their playoff push — regardless of what the Islanders were offering.
Since the Islanders entered the NHL in 1972, the rivals have hooked up for just three trades.
Two of those came in 1972 before the rivalry ever began. The Rangers gave the Islanders two 1973 draft picks to ensure the Islanders wouldn’t pick certain players from the Blueshirts’ roster during the expansion draft.
Later that year, they sent Ron Stewart to the Islanders for cash.
The third came trade came 38 years later in 2010 when the Islanders sent Jyri Niemi to the Rangers for a sixth-round draft pick.
Seeing Kreider swap blue and red for blue and orange would be an unprecedented move in the rivalry’s history, but one would have to assume the Islanders will have to overpay for a half-season of Kreider. Granted, the bounty for him would grow larger if a sign-and-trade was guaranteed.