Even before the New York Islanders found out they would be without forward Anders Lee for the rest of the season, general manager Lou Lamoriello seemed poised to make a move before the April 12 NHL trade deadline.
That seems all but certain now with the Islanders needing to fill a major hole in their lineup. And Anders Lee is no easy player to replace on the ice for New York. The Islanders captain not only is tied for the team lead in goals with 12, but he has often been referred to as the heartbeat of the team.
That means Lamoriello will have his work cut out for him as he tries to bring in help to keep the Islanders atop the East Division and the NHL. The team’s current salary cap situation won’t make that task any easier, but placing Anders Lee and his $7 million cap hit on LTIR does give the Islanders a little bit more wiggle room.
The New York Islanders general manager and president of hockey operations was surprisingly forthcoming when it came to the team’s focus heading into the deadline this year, indicating during a Zoom call with reporters that they were honed in on finding a scoring winger.
“That’s not something that’s easy to do,” Lamoriello said. “If we can we will. As you see right now we have a young player right now in his spot and he has done extremely well. If we can do something in another forward position that’s going to make us better we will. But if we have the opportunity to get a scorer we certainly will do that without sacrificing what is coming for the future.”
Hear from President and GM Lou Lamoriello as he addresses the media.
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 17, 2021
A recent report indicated that the Islanders had conversations with Florida about a deal that would swap Leo Komarov for Brett Connolly. However, Lamoriello appeared to be trying to work on something bigger in recent days.
An NHL source told NYI Hockey Now that Lamoriello had been on lockdown more than usual “and that usually means he’s up to something big.”
What, or rather who, that could be is up for debate. Any mention of the Islanders going after a scoring winger almost immediately sends observers pointing towards pending UFA and Buffalo Sabres forward Taylor Hall.
That might not be the case, though, according to what NYI Hockey Now has been told. There appear to be some questions about what kind of fit he would be inside the Islanders dressing room and the culture Lamoriello and Barry Trotz have built on Long Island.
And as important as it is to bring in talented players, Lamoriello has made no bones about the fact that whoever the New York Islanders make a play for before the deadline would need to be a good match with the team’s culture.
“Sometimes you add and it takes away from other players,” Lamoriello said. “Chemistry to me is as important as anything. Whatever we can do to get better we will.”
While Hall might not be the best fit for the Islanders, another forward within the division may fit the bill of what the Islanders would be looking for. Of course, that would be Kyle Palmieri of the New Jersey Devils.
Similar to Buffalo, New Jersey’s season doesn’t seem like it will end with them being in the playoffs and they would be in a position to help the Islanders out. Tom Fitzgerald was the general manager when the Islanders picked up Andy Greene last year before the trade deadline.
Palmieri fits the bill for the New York Islanders in terms of the type of player they could be looking for and one that fits within the financial constraints of the organization. Lamoriello said that players with expiring contracts would be the “first focus, but that’s not the only focus.”
The NHL trade deadline is still nearly four weeks away and the Islanders have some time to try and make a move, but all indications seem to point to the fact that Lamoriello is looking to fill the gap left by Lee sooner rather than later.