The Isles have had a tough go of it this season, but it should not be taken as a sign that the team needs to rebuild. After starting their season with a 13-game road trip, dealing with a massive Covid outbreak, as well as injuries to some of their top players, the Islanders are still flirting with the possibility of pulling themselves into a wildcard spot. It’s a tall order, they sit 18 points back of the Bruins for the final playoff spot in the East, and even with 4 games in hand, it’s going to take some stellar play from the Isles to get them back into contention. Instead, their struggles are likely to be rewarded with a high draft pick in a very strong draft year, and a shot at starting fresh next season with a healthy roster and a home arena from day 1. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing the Islanders can do at the trade deadline to improve their team. Several players are heading towards UFA status and GM Lou Lamoriello will be working the phones to see if he can gain some assets for the future. Here are two players the Islanders may show interest in.
The Oilers and Islanders have been linked as trade partners for months now. The Oilers need a 1A goalie and the Isles currently employ two of them. New York, meanwhile, could use some more offence from their blueline. Ryan Pulock only just returned from injury and will help resolve that issue, but an offensive Dman with term could go a long way toward helping the Islanders win some games. Tyson Barrie brings that in spades. What he lacks in the defensive zone he makes up for on offence, and he led the whole NHL in scoring by defencemen last season. Barrie has two more years on his deal at $4.5 million and would benefit greatly from the Islanders’ defensive style of play. With the seemingly-inevitable departure of Scott Mayfield, a right-shot defenceman will need to be brought in regardless. Why not get a jump on the issue at the trade deadline instead of hoping to land someone in free agency?
Whether the Rangers are interested in dealing with their rival New York club or not is another matter, but the fact is that where the Islanders are most significantly lacking is in their prospect pool. They have traded their first-round picks in each of the last two seasons in order to aid their playoff runs (a mostly successful endeavor), and while they may have gotten a steal in Aatu Raty out of the second round, their pipeline is lacking in depth and talent. Meanwhile, the Rangers have been listening to offers on Kravtsov since before the season started, and he’s unlikely to crack the Rangers’ stacked roster at this point in the year. Maybe the Islanders can give the 22-year old winger some ice time in the NHL, which is all the kid is really asking for. In exchange, the Rangers might have to pony up a draft pick as well, but an underperforming player like Anthony Beauvillier would certainly help with their playoff hopes.
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