Lou Lamoriello Islanders 2018 checklist, John Tavares, more
The Islanders have a new president of hockey operations and he'll have to hit the ground running to save the franchise.
New York Islanders co-owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin made a huge move this week, officially hiring Hall-of-Fame executive Lou Lamoriello as president of hockey operations on Tuesday morning.
It's a move that immediately brings legitimacy to the Islanders front office, which has been mired in mediocrity for the last 12 years with Garth Snow acting as president and general manager.
But Lamoriello, who helped the New Jersey Devils win three Stanley Cups, can usher in a brand-new age for the Islanders, a team with just three playoff series wins since 1993 and four playoff appearances since Snow took over in 2006.
In order for the Islanders to enter a new golden age, though, Lamoriello will have to hit the ground running upon his arrival to Brooklyn.
Here are a few things he will have to do in order to get the most out of his new team:
1. Re-sign John Tavares
I'm not sure if anything else can really be written about this situation. Tavares has remained a consummate professional throughout the expiration of his contract, saying that he would like to remain with the Islanders. However, negotiations have been shrouded in mystery and non-existent, which was a worrisome to Islanders fans everywhere with unrestricted free agency looming on July 1.
Tavares is the captain and the face of the Islanders franchise and losing him to the open market would be a death blow for the organization in 2018 and beyond, which is catastrophic considering they'll have to try and sell tickets to a brand-new arena in three year's time.
It appears Lamoriello is already on it as Hockey30 reported that he already met with Tavares in New York last week in anticipation of getting the Islanders job. That's more than Snow, Malkin or Ledecky had done in the past year.
2. Bring on a new general manager
This might be a tricky move, considering Lamoriello has a strong relationship with Snow. After all, it was Snow that hired Lamoriello's son as the team's assistant GM in 2016. But Snow's track record shows that he is unfit to be a general manager.
He has constantly ignored glaring team needs over the years and has been inactive on the market, especially at the trade deadline. Most recently, he stood pat at the 2018 trade deadline even though his team was just two points out of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot despite having the worst defense in the league. The wheels shortly fell off the Islanders season and the team plummeted to the bottom of the Metropolitan Division, missing the postseason for the second-straight year.
3. Make a change at head coach
Doug Weight could very well become a great head coach in the NHL. It's just not going to happen with the Islanders.
His style of play put tons of stress on a terrible defense and his unwillingness to make a change further doomed the team. Most of all, the pressure clearly got to him as his team spiraled out of control toward the end of the season, constantly showing his frustration in an unconstructive manner.
The Islanders need a seasoned head coach who gets the most out of a roster that is largely inexperienced, especially when it comes to winning.
4. Overhaul the defense
The blue line is the Islanders' greatest area of need this offseason after allowing a league-worst 296 goals. While injuries played a major role, it became abundantly clear that the team didn't have the depth or talent to keep the puck out of the net.
Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk are not a first-pairing defensive duo, Calvin de Haan might walk in free agency after a season cut short due to injuries and should he be retained, he should not be more than a fourth or fifth defenseman on a revamped unit.
Thomas Hickey should be shown the door and Scott Mayfield and Adam Pelech should be considered as trade chips for something far better. Lamoriello needs to get at least two top-tier defensemen to give the Islanders a new No. 1 pairing on the blue line. It will take all the pressure off Leddy and Boychuk while allowing the young Devon Toews and Mitch Vande Sompel to develop within a competent defense.