With the acquisition of Bo Horvat, it seems that New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello is going all in to give his group one last chance at going on a playoff run. Horvat was one of the top names on the market and helps the Islanders in their most significant area of need, which is offense.
But until the New York Islanders make another move, this move may not be what it appears to be.
During our press conference with Lamoriello on Monday, he kept stating how critical this trade was for this season and beyond.
“You make this type of transaction because you can improve the team today and tomorrow. And in my opinion, he makes us a better team,” Lamoriello said. “I dispute that it’s a trade about just this year. It’s our intention to retain him. Certainly, for more than this year, we don’t make these types of transactions without that in place. And although it’s not in place, so we feel comfortable that will work at getting that done.”
The Islanders make this trade sitting two points out of the second wild-card spot, with three more games played than the Pittsburgh Penguins, who hold that position. The Buffalo Sabres, who are a point ahead of the Islanders, also have three games in hand.
There’s no question that Horvat will help this underwhelming offense, but is he enough to get the Islanders into the postseason?
The Islanders were never just “one player away” from winning a Stanley Cup.
This situation, assuming a contract extension gets done, becomes a safe move for the Islanders.
They have Horvat, in his prime, locked up. If they continue to fall in the standings, Lamoriello now has the option to trade a few assets and recoup some draft picks, but the Islanders also keep their first-round pick if it falls within the lottery (1-12).
The Canucks had no leverage in this deal, which is why they gave Horvat up for far less than people imagined. Lamoriello seemed to take advantage of the madness that was going on in Vancouver.
The Islanders still have needs if they want to be an ultimate Stanley Cup contender this season. They have the goaltending. They have the center depth. But they are still missing another top-six winger.
That line likely will not be touched.
That leaves a question mark alongside Horvat and Mathew Barzal–a prime spot for a shooter, sniper type of player.
That role could be Oliver Wahlstrom‘s next season, but right now, he is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury, and as of now, it seems his return this season is bleak.
Until the Islanders address that hole, as Simon Holmstrom may get the first look but isn’t the needed “sniper,” the Islanders are still in a position they were before they made the Horvat trade.
Their playoff potential has risen, but more work needs to be done.
The Islanders could also use a depth defenseman. Despite Sebastian Aho playing much better than he has in years past, it’s still debatable whether he can be relied upon, especially in the playoffs.
Not to mention, Noah Dobson is dealing with something right now, which forced him to miss the Islanders’ last four games before the All-Star break.
The 2023 NHL Trade Deadline is on March 3, and if the Islanders remain in contention, a few points out of a playoff spot, or find themselves in a playoff spot, Lamoriello likely makes another big splash.
But if not, Lou Lamoriello can still help the New York Islanders gear up for a complete bounce-back season in 2023-24.