The summer of 2018 has not been as action-packed or fruitful as many New York Islanders fans expected after Lou Lamoriello was brought on as president and acting general manager.
After losing John Tavares to the Toronto Maple Leafs on the first day of free agency, Lamoriello and the Islanders have signed a number of bottom-six forwards like Leo Komarov, Valtteri Filppula and Matt Martin along with goalie Robin Lehner, who the franchise hopes can be a true No. 1 netminder.
Even Lehner proves to be just that, the Islanders still have a number of boxes to check off on their offseason checklist. Not only does the team have to come up with a way to replace the goals that walked out of the door with Tavares, they also have to upgrade a defense that was ranked dead last in the NHL in 2017-18 by allowing 296 goals.
There was an initial buzz surrounding Ottawa Senators captain and two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson, but it would be unlikely for the Swedish star to sign an extension to facilitate the deal between the Canadian club and the Islanders. It is believed that the Tampa Bay Lightning, Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights are the top-three contenders for Karlsson this summer.
That leaves the Islanders scrounging the market for impact blueliners. Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy cannot be a No. 1 pairing while Calvin de Haan signed with the Carolina Hurricanes earlier this month. The team re-signed Thomas Hickey, Ryan Pulock and Devon Toews, but that’s not nearly enough.
Here are two options the Islanders could pursue as the summer progresses:
The Carolina Hurricanes have had a busy offseason on the blue line. They locked up Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce while adding Dougie Hamilton and de Haan, creating a solid top-four while making Faulk expendable and basically a lock to be traded considering he was on the market before they even got Hamilton.
Faulk is signed for the next two seasons with a $5 million cap hit that would make it difficult to justify putting him on a third-pairing defensive unit.
At 26 years old, Faulk is coming off a down season in which he recorded eight goals, 23 assists and a career-worst minus-26 rating (though one should not put much stock in a plus/minus rating nowadays). But he still holds the promise of being an invaluable top-four defenseman.
On his day, Faulk is one of the better two-way defensemen in the NHL, recording 15, 16 and 17 goals respectively from 2014-2017. He could become a solid contributor on the power play and could provide a much better option on New York’s second defensive unit compared to Thomas Hickey.
With the return of Martin along with gritty wingers like Komarov and Ross Johnston, it looks like the Islanders don’t want to be pushed around much longer. The problem is they don’t have an overly-physical defenseman to continue the trend on the blue line.
The Florida Panthers defenseman Petrovic can help change that trend.
At 6-foot-4, Petrovic creates an imposing figure that is always willing to throw his body around. His big hits can turn a game on its head and a willingness to drop the gloves will only make friends here in New York.
He is a true stay-at-home defenseman with just five career goals in 228 games, but a big body that can help clear the front of the Islanders net and block shots will be an extremely welcomed addition.