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New York Islanders 3 Biggest Needs

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New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello

There’s a difference between a want and a need. For the New York Islanders, they need to add before the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline on Mar. 3. There are priorities for the franchise, an organization trying to make it back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs after missing the postseason in 2021-22.

The Islanders have $10.895 million in trade deadline cap space, which will allow them to bring in elite talent without needing to remove an expensive player off their books.

Here are the rankings, from Islanders needs to wants.

Islanders Need to Prioritize Goal Scoring

The New York Islanders are middle of the pack in terms of offense, ranking 18th with 95 goals on the season and 15th with 3.17 goals per game. It’s a major upgrade from their 2.79 a season ago, but they still need to bring in a dynamic game-changing forward.

There were chances to add a player of that caliber this offseason, with the likes of Nazem Kadri, Johnny Gadreau, and J.T. Miller but a failure to create enough cap space disallowed an upgrade at the forward position.

But now, with the Islanders in a playoff spot in a tough Metropolitan Division, they need to acquire that caliber of player if they want to not only make the playoffs, but do damage.

On Wednesday, NYI Hockey Now learned that the Islanders reached out to the Vancouver Canucks regarding their captain Bo Horvat. The 27-year-old center is currently fifth in the NHL with 21 goals and will require at least a first round pick and a few prospects to acquire. He has a cap hit of $5.5 million

His teammate Brock Boeser seems to be on his way out of town. He has just four goals in 28 games and is under contract until the 2025-26 season, with an annual cap hit of $6.65 million.

John Matisz, senior editor for The Score, shared that he believes it would only take a second or a third round pick for the 25-year-old scorer.

Then you have the big guns like Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Kane, Sam Jose Sharks forward Timo Meier and St. Louis Blues Vladimir Tarasenko.

All three will be unrestricted free agents come season’s end and the asking price will be relatively high, as in multiple first round picks and top prospects.

But for a team in win-now mode like the Islanders, those three moves the needle much more than the options in Vancouver.

Islanders Could Use Another Defenseman

The New York Islanders held a tryout during training camp for the sixth and seventh defenseman jobs. Robin Salo, 24, earned the starting gig alongside Scott Mayfield, with Sebastian Aho earning the seventh spot.

After four games, Lambert swapped Salo and Aho, with Aho playing the last 26 games. However, with Adam Pelech’s injury (IR, Retro Dec.6), Robin Salo has played the previous three games alongside Ryan Pulock.

Salo has yet to prove himself as an everyday NHLer and has a glorious opportunity to make a statement in Pelech’s absence.

Aho has been good, but if the Islanders could get a defenseman, an NHL veteran (LHD), that might help stabilize the backend a bit more than two players who are not NHL regulars yet–despite filling that role.

One player, a pending unrestricted free agent, that could be had is 32-year-old Dmitry Kulikov.

In 30 games with the Anaheim Ducks, the Russian defenseman (would fit in), has two goals and seven assists. He has a cap hit of $2.25 million and given how the Ducks season is going and the kind of player he is, a low-round draft pick would suffice.

Islanders May Want to Add a Depth Forward

The New York Islanders have wingers currently rostered that are not getting it done on a nightly basis.

On the left side, Anders Lee and Zach Parise each have nine goals, and Matt Martin’s three goals ties him for his goal output a season ago. Josh Bailey has five goals and has struggled mightily, despite a goal Tuesday night against the Boston Bruins.

On the right side, Oliver Wahlstrom leads with seven goals. Kyle Palmieri, who has missed the last 10 games with an upper-body injury, sits with six goals for second place on the right-wing rankings. Anthony Beauvillier is next with five goals, but he’s failed to bounce back from a rough 2021-22 campaign. Cal Clutterbuck has three goals, while Palmieri’s replacement, Simon Holmstrom, has no goals in 10 games.

Hudson Fasching has burst onto the scene, as he has one goal and may find himself sticking with the big club once Palmieri returns.

After acquiring a legitimate goal scorer to play and a bottom-pairing defenseman, if the Islanders do have cap space available, they may want to get an everyday NHLer to play in the bottom six. That space can come from trading one of the few players that are struggling for draft capital.

It all depends on how players like Holmstrom and Fasching continue to play as the season progresses.

Islanders & Canucks Talking Horvat, Potential Trade Package

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