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New York Islanders

Islanders Lamoriello Not to Blame for DeBrincat, But That Doesn’t Ease The Pain

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Alex DeBrincat is on his way to the Detroit Red Wings. As was the case with Johnny Gaudreau, Nazem Kadri and several other offseason targets that the New York Islanders have pursued over the years, DeBrincat is the latest one to get away.

The Islanders were reportedly heavily interested in acquiring the 25-year-old forward in a trade with the Ottawa Senators, whose goal-scoring ability is a trait scarcely found in their lineup as currently constructed. Instead, DeBrincat was sent to Detroit for a package including Dominik KubalikDonovan Sebrango and two picks in the 2024 draft.

It’s a familiar cycle for the Islanders. Reports surface that they’re interested in a high-profile player, and fans get their hopes up before said player winds up elsewhere.

As they were all those times before, Isles fans have every right to be upset that DeBrincat isn’t making his way to Long Island. However, in this instance, it’s unfair to blame the team’s president of hockey operations and general manager, Lou Lamoriello.

Is it reasonable to say that Lamoriello could’ve put together a trade proposal that’s at least equal to and possibly even better than what Detroit gave up to land DeBrincat? Probably, but that doesn’t matter. The Senators were going to send him where ever he wanted, and all signs pointed toward Detroit as his preferred destination.

DeBrincat grew up half an hour from the Motor City in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Now, he’s quite literally taking a hometown discount, whether it’s by choice or not. There was no amount of players, picks or prospects that Lamoriello could’ve offered Ottawa to change that.

Still, the frustration many Islanders fans feel is justifiable, especially considering how thin the trade market is this summer.

A few weeks ago, after re-signing four players from the team last year to new contracts, Lamoriello spoke about making an impact trade to improve the team.

“We’ve signed the free agents with the dollars that we had available,” Lamoriello said on July 1. “Now, to get better, as everyone tries to do, it’ll be a hockey trade, and I think you will find that to be a similar situation throughout the National Hockey League.”

Now that DeBrincat is off the market, few options remain for Lamoriello to turn to.

Some have pointed out that the acquisition of Bo Horvat at the trade deadline could suffice as Lamoriello’s major offseason acquisition, as the center was set to become one of the top free agents this summer before signing an extension with the Islanders. He’ll be back next season, and so will most of last year’s team.

The Islanders are set to bring back nearly the same roster they had to close out last season. Sure, it’s a team that made the playoffs, but only after the Pittsburgh Penguins gifted them a golden opportunity to claim the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference in Game 82 of the season.

Perhaps an entire year of Horvat and Pierre Engvall, along with a healthy Mathew Barzal, will make things easier in 2023. But it couldn’t hurt to add someone else just to be safe.