While the start of the New York Islanders regular season is just three days away, it doesn’t necessarily mean that management is content with the current roster.
On Sunday, head coach Barry Trotz told Newsday’s Andrew Gross that team president Lou Lamoriello has been “working the phones hard,” to find a last-minute upgrade prior to the team’s first game on Thursday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.
A big deal like this would be something taken from the pages of former general manager Garth Snow. While he will always be remembered for his inactivity and unwillingness to make moves on the market, he shockingly acquired Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk just days before the start of the 2014-15 season. The late trades helped the Islanders put up 101 points on the season, the most since the 1983-84 season.
At the moment, the Islanders look as though they will be a team fighting just to stay out of the basement of the Metropolitan Division alongside the crosstown-rival Rangers.
With no true replacement for John Tavares after he signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jul. 1 and no upgrades for a defense that was the worst in hockey last year, things are looking bleak.
It will put a ton of pressure on second-year center Mathew Barzal, the reigning Calder Trophy winner, and 40-goal scorer Anders Lee to produce while Boychuk and Leddy have to stay healthy and try to improve things for new No. 1 goaltender Robin Lehner.
But if Lamoriello has a trick or two up his sleeve, the Islanders could make one last late move to brighten their outlook heading into the regular season.
Here are a few names who could be available for the Islanders to nab:
Artemi Panarin, Islanders rumors
Panarin’s time with the Columbus Blue Jackets is nearing an end after no contract extension talks. The soon-to-be free agent will likely be dealt before the February trade deadline. If the Blue Jackets fall out of contention early, it will be well before that. However, the Islanders have the young talent to nab the Russian. The problem is, they would need a guarantee that he would re-sign with the Islanders in order to give up a big package. Panarin has averaged close to 30 goals in his first three seasons in the league.
Matt Duchene, Islanders rumors
The Ottawa Senators forward has continuously been linked with the Islanders for over a year now, even when he was playing for the Colorado Avalanche. Duchene had expressed a desire to stay in Ottawa, but that was before the Erik Karlsson trade to the San Jose Sharks. With the team going nowhere, he could want out and he could want it soon. The Islanders and Senators have discussed a trade involving Duchene earlier this summer.
William Nylander, Islanders rumors
The Maple Leafs might not want to trade the young winger just yet, but they might need to make some room to re-sign the likes of Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews down the road. Nylander has not been with the Maple Leafs throughout the preseason, rather he’s training in Europe as he awaits a new contract. The 22-year-old is a restricted free agent and is coming off a pair of 20-plus-goal seasons.