It’s only been three weeks since Lou Lamoriello has taken over the front office of the New York Islanders and during that span, it feels as though there’s been more action than what the last 15 years has provided.
Just days after firing general manager Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight, the Islanders are reportedly interested in Washington Capitals backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer, per Pierre LeBrun of the Athletic.
Among the needs scribbled on the Islanders’ proverbial checklist this offseason, acquiring a legitimate No. 1 goalie is among the to-do’s. Jaroslav Halak will hit unrestricted free agency on July 1 and it is all but a given that he will not return to the team.
Thomas Greiss, who inked a three-year deal prior to the 2017-18 season, looked undeserving of the deal, going 13-8-2 with a mediocre .892 save percentage and a career-worst 3.82 goals against average.
The Islanders have two highly-touted international prospects between the pipes in the Swede Linus Soderstrom and Russian Ilya Sorokin. The latter is expected to stay in Russia for the next few seasons while Soderstrom could make the jump to the United States and challenge for a roster spot this year.
Lamoriello though isn’t in the business of relying on hypotheticals and instead looks to be setting his sights on Grubauer, a 26-year-old who has served as Braden Holtby’s backup since his arrival in the NHL in 2012.
He’s shown the promise of developing into a legitimate No. 1 goalie, holding a 43-31-11 career record to go with a .923 save percentage and a 2.29 goals against average.
There are concerns however about how he would hold up under a starter’s workload. He has just 79 career starts over the past six years with no more than 28 in a single campaign. Obviously, that makes his playoff experience rather limited as he’s appeared in four games with little success (.835 SV%, 4.24 GAA).
On top of that, there’s a chance he could playing behind an Islanders defense that was worst in the league last year, an inept group constantly exposing their goalies whether it was Halak or Greiss. Given Lamoriello’s track record though, it’s safe to assume that upgrades will be on the way this summer.
Grubauer will be a restricted free agent next month, but given the Capitals don’t have a ton of cap space and will have attempt to re-sign defensemen John Carlson, Michael Kempny, and forward Tom Wilson.