Islanders Offseason Will Have Unique Obstacles


The 2023 offseason will likely be an fascinating one for the New York Islanders. The staff doesn’t enter the offseason with a way of urgency as they did final offseason however they nonetheless have a handful of obstacles forward of them. Last season, the Islanders missed the playoffs and wanted to make an enormous transfer, however normal supervisor (GM) Lou Lamoriello stayed quiet, signaling confidence in his roster.

Related: Islanders Need to Make Changes This Offseason

Despite the quiet offseason, the Islanders bounced again and clinched a wild-card spot within the playoffs, making Lamoriello’s choice repay. After a First Round exit, the staff is gazing a handful of how to method the offseason and notably construct a Stanley Cup contender with their present roster.

On one hand, the Islanders have an incredible core. The protection is led by Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock, two of the most effective defensemen within the league within the prime of their careers, whereas Noah Dobson and Alexander Romanov are each younger promising gamers who proceed to enhance. Ilya Sorokin is without doubt one of the finest goaltenders within the NHL, and he offers the Islanders a excessive flooring as a dependable starter for 60 video games within the common season.

The high six can also be set with Mathew Barzal, Bo Horvat, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, and Kyle Palmieri all below contract and enjoying large roles. Additionally, Oliver Wahlstrom, who’s a restricted free agent, will likely be again within the lineup after lacking most of this season with an damage, and he offers a much-needed scoring presence on the wing.

Ilya Sorokin, New York Islanders (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

At the identical time, the Islanders’ roster is riddled with points, together with an getting older core, and a veteran-heavy roster. The common age this season was 29.3, and 10 skaters have been 30 or older. There’s additionally the issue with the construction of the roster, particularly, with too many area of interest gamers who’re nice at a couple of expertise however lack versatility. Both points have been exploited within the First Round because the Carolina Hurricanes managed the sequence and received it in six video games.

Lamoreillo’s Moves So Far

Shortly after the Islanders have been eradicated, Lamoriello, who sometimes waits till the ultimate weeks of the offseason to make his strikes, re-signed Hudson Fasching to a two-year contract. Fasching was a nice shock from the second he was known as up from the American Hockey League (AHL) roster for the Dec. 4 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Not solely did he show he belongs on the roster, however he confirmed that he could make a big affect for years to come back.

At 27 years outdated, he’s getting into his prime and can look to construct off his breakout season. He scored 10 targets and 9 assists and made his biggest affect defensively with 1.1 defensive level shares and a powerful forecheck within the offensive zone. His defensive expertise additionally make Fasching a dependable fourth-line ahead, and maybe a dependable alternative for one of many getting older skaters on the wing down the highway.

Hudson Fasching New York Islanders
Hudson Fasching, New York Islanders (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Lamoriello additionally signed Matthew Maggio to an entry-level contract. Maggio was the Islanders’ fifth-round choice within the 2022 NHL Entry Draft and is coming off an enormous 12 months with the Windsor Spitfires within the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). In 66 video games, he scored 54 targets and 67 assists, because of his fast launch and taking pictures means. At 20 years outdated, he’s nonetheless removed from becoming a member of the NHL roster, however he will likely be a prospect to observe transferring ahead.

The Islanders’ farm system is without doubt one of the worst within the NHL, and lots of prospects look poised to make an affect within the NHL subsequent season. However, Maggio can develop into the much-needed aim scorer the staff wants. Like William Dufour, who was additionally drafted within the fifth spherical, he may develop into a draft steal who could be on the NHL roster in a couple of seasons and add youth to an getting older roster. 

Islanders Have to Address Expiring Contracts & Aging Core

Zach Parise, Pierre Engvall, Scott Mayfield, and Semyon Varlamov are all pending unrestricted free brokers. Parise is 38 years outdated, however oddly sufficient, the Islanders want him again of their lineup after he scored 21 targets and 13 assists this season. His future is unsure, however he’s confirmed he can nonetheless play at a excessive stage, making him a participant that Lamoriello will attempt to signal to a team-friendly deal. Engvall, in the meantime, was acquired at the trade deadline and shaped a powerful reference to Palmieri, complementing his talent set. He made an argument for a increase and to develop into an integral a part of the highest six, however can the Islanders match him below the wage cap?

Zach Parise New York Islanders
Zach Parise, New York Islanders (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

While each Parise and Engvall have made their case to be re-signed, Mayfield’s standing is much less sure. He’s 30 years outdated and nonetheless enjoying at a excessive stage, however the Islanders’ defensive unit wants extra youth within the lineup. With Sebastian Aho rising as a dependable defenseman, 5 of the six spots within the lineup are crammed, and to begin subsequent season, the Islanders can transfer Robin Salo, Samuel Bolduc, or one other youthful skater into that last spot. Moreover, after Lamoriello drafted two defensemen in 2022, deciding on Calle Odelius within the second spherical and Isaiah George within the fourth spherical, there’s no urgency to re-sign Mayfield.

Latest News & Highlights

Similarly, there’s no urgency for the staff to re-sign Varlamov. Lamoriello favors a goaltending tandem that may break up begins, however Sorokin proved that he can and can tackle a lot of the workload after beginning 60 of the 82 common season video games. Additionally, Varlamov is 34 years outdated and, at this level in his profession, is a dependable backup. The Islanders may deliver him again on a team-friendly contract, however extra possible, they’ll search for an alternate backup choice for Sorokin.

Then there’s Josh Bailey’s contract, which can possible be purchased out this offseason. He’s below contract for another season however is coming off a disappointing 12 months. Bailey struggled offensively and have become a legal responsibility earlier than he was made a wholesome scratch on the finish of the season, and he by no means noticed the ice within the playoffs. He’s the longest-tenured Islanders skater however the staff wants wage cap house, so a buyout appears possible.

Josh Bailey New York Islanders
Josh Bailey, New York Islanders (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The different subject that Lamoriello wants to deal with is the fourth line. Known because the “Identity Line”, the trio of Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck, and Matt Martin has began to say no. They’ve been the most effective defensive and checking line on the staff however have struggled within the offensive zone, and at occasions, their bodily play price the Islanders. In the First Round, Martin took a number of penalties, together with one on the finish of the primary interval of Game 4 that resulted in a Hurricanes aim, which helped them win the game 5-2. Fasching is primed for the fourth line, and Lamoriello wants to begin considering of which getting older skater he can change this offseason.

Islanders Missing Pieces

The Islanders want so as to add versatility to their ahead unit and playmakers to their protection. They lacked each all season, and it price them within the playoffs in opposition to the Hurricanes, who possessed versatility upfront and playmakers on the blue line. Adding defensive reinforcements will likely be a tough activity since 5 of the six beginning positions are already taken, and the sixth will possible be given to a prospect. However, if Lamoreillo creates sufficient cap house to make a transfer, he wants so as to add a flexible skater to the center of the ahead unit.

The large downside is that it will likely be exhausting to search out that kind of participant. The Islanders received’t have sufficient cap house to make an enormous signing, and there aren’t quite a lot of gamers who could be priceless additions whereas placing the offense excessive. Lamoriello has prevented free company in latest offseasons and usually places confidence within the staff that’s in place. That mentioned, the Islanders want so as to add that lacking piece. While they’ll return the identical roster, this season confirmed that it’s ok to make the playoffs however not ok to compete within the Eastern Conference.

Among the highest free brokers accessible, the Islanders can realistically purchase Max Domi and Ivan Barbashev. Both forwards aren’t elite, however are versatile and might open up the offense. If the Islanders signal both one, their ahead strains would look roughly like this:

Anders Lee Bo Horvat Mathew Barzal
Pierre Engvall Brock Nelson Kyle Palmieri
Domi/Barbashev Jean-Gabriel Pageau Oliver Wahlstrom
Matt Martin Casey Cizikas Cal Clutterbuck

Other Notes for the Islanders’ Offseason Ahead

As talked about, the staff’s prospect pool is without doubt one of the worst within the league, and it solely bought worse after the Horvat commerce. They traded away one in every of their high prospects, Aatu Raty, within the deal and their first-round choice within the upcoming draft. Despite minimal draft capital, Lamoriello should use his picks correctly to assist enhance the staff’s farm system. After deciding on two defensemen along with his first three picks final 12 months, he wants to focus on forwards who can be a part of the NHL roster in a couple of years.

Last 12 months, Lamoriello used the Islanders’ first-round choice to acquire Romanov, giving the staff a confirmed starter who grew to become an integral a part of the protection. He will at all times look to improve the roster with confirmed expertise, however with out a first-round choose in 2023, it’s unlikely he’ll make one other splash.

The Islanders are in a novel state of affairs this offseason. However, with the best strikes, they’ll construct off a powerful season and develop into contenders for the Stanley Cup. Lamoriello’s tenure has been a rocky one, however general, he’s saved the staff aggressive. Now, he must make the ultimate strikes to place them excessive.


Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button