Now the real work begins for Lou Lamoriello.
While he still tries to entice captain John Tavares to commit long-term to the franchise and free agent coach Barry Trotz to come take the head coaching job, Lamoriello is now faced with the task of his first draft as Islanders President of Hockey Ops./General Manager Friday evening in Dallas. This will be the biggest draft for the franchise in recent memory.
Under the Garth Snow regime, the draft was more miss than hit. But now with Lamoriello at the helm, that scenario could be turned the other direction.
The Islanders currently hold eight picks over the full seven rounds come Friday — picks 11, 12, 41, 43, 72, 103, 134, 196. Those back-to-back selections at 11 and 12, plus two second-round picks just separated by one pick, give Lamoriello a lot of assets to utilize if he wants to improve the Isles immediately. New York is in desperate need of a goaltender with only Thomas Greiss signed for the next two years. They will also be on the hunt for a top-4 defenseman with Calvin de Haan heading to free agency and Johnny Boychuk getting up there in age.
It’s hard to predict what Legend Lou has up his sleeve to bag that number one goalie or said top-4 blueliner, but one thing is for sure: he’s found ways to do it before, and he will do it again.
Friday should be quite intriguing in Isles Country. With the optimism continuing to grow amongst the natives, let us take a look at some of the scenarios that could happen to change the future of the organization.
TRADING BOTH THE 11TH AND 12TH PICKS FOR A GOALIE OR D-MAN: Less Likely.
Not many teams have the luxury of having two picks in the top 15 of the first round, but Lou and the Islanders do. Those two picks are definitely prime real estate, and Lamoriello will definitely be exploiting them to fill the holes plaguing the team. It would be crazy to think that if both picks were offered in a deal, what would be coming back to the Isles can’t be anything but a surefire number one puck-stopper or bonafide stud defensemen. This type of development might be the least likely thing to happen, but for how Lou was able to trade for a Scott Stevens and Cory Schneider with high draft picks, you never know he just might pull it off.
TRADING THE 11TH OR 12TH PICK FOR A GOALIE OR D-MAN: More Than Likely.
Trading two first round picks — especially ones back-to-back — is crazy in itself for any franchise. Trading one of those picks for a player ready to make an impact now sounds more realistic. Somehow, someway, the ball is in Lamoriello’s court to land a number-one netminder or top-pairing defensemen and he can do it by dealing away one of these selections. The top of this draft class is one of the best in years. It would be wise on Lamoriello’s part to throw either the 11th or 12th pick out in the open to see if he gets any takers so he can acquire those missing pieces the team has been searching for.
TRADING THE 11TH OR 12TH AND PICK AND ONE OF EITHER THE 41ST OR 43RD PICK FOR A GOALIE OR D-MAN: Possibly.
Look if you’re a team like the Isles who have been searching for a number one in net for as long as you have, and now are in great need to bolster your backend after a horrible season defensively, trading a first and a second round pick doesn’t seem that unreasonable. After all, teams are going to want the extra incentive for why they should make the deal. Call me crazy, but this might be the kind of package that Lou can use to land the Isles what they’ve been lacking. Seeing where these picks are so high in both of the opening rounds, teams will look at these as franchise building players down the road. Lamoriello parting with a combination of either of the four picks can help the Islanders become a win now organization.
TRADING THE 41ST AND 43RD PICKS FOR A GOALIE OR D-MAN: Not Impossible.
Some people won’t agree, but second-round picks are just as valuable as first-round picks when it comes to trading for impact players in the draft. The second tier of players is key to building a winning team in the future. Could Lou try to fleece another GM by offering both his second rounders? Again, we never know what he can pull off with two of those type of resources to his advantage. Swapping both second rounders would have to bring back something big. If not, it won’t seem practical on Lamoriello’s part.
TRADING UP OR TRADING DOWN IN THE FIRST ROUND: Very Unlikely.
Unless Lamoriello and his scouting staff know something we don’t, it would be uncanny to think that the Islanders try to move into the top ten or move down from 11 and 12. The franchise is at such a crossroads that any type of deal of this nature would have to involve someone of impact coming back their way or vice versa. As said before, the first round is deeper this year than in recent memory, but the Isles need to be in “win now” mode. Trading up or down doesn’t seem to make much sense, meaning it would be a complete shock if anything of that magnitude did occur.
MAKING BOTH THE 11TH AND 12TH PICK: No Chance.
Either other gms would have had to be laughing at Lou Lamoriello’s offers, or he would have had to hit a serious roadblock in any trade discussions with his fellow counterparts. There’s a 0.1% chance this will happen. And if it does, the franchise will still be in its stagnant state.
MAKING THE 11TH OR 12TH PICK: Seems More Likely Than Not.
Look, everyone and their mother will tell you that if Lamoriello is going to make a deal, one of these two picks has to be in the deal. Sitting right outside the top-ten doesn’t guarantee the franchise an effective player, but being in those two spots does guarantee the organization claiming one of the best players in the draft. The team has too many holes to fill that it would be crazy to think they wouldn’t strengthen their organizational depth by adding to their d-corps or re-establishing their system at the winger position.
IF THE ISLES DO PICK AT 11 AND 12 OR JUST ONE OF THE PICKS, HERE’S WHO THEY COULD TARGET:
BARRETT HAYTON, CENTER, SAULT ST. MARIE:
Per Mike Morreale of NHL.com: “He knows where to locate linemates as a natural playmaking center. He has great hockey sense, can play on the power play or penalty kill and move the puck well in transition. He scored eight power-play goals and five game-winning goals, and won 49.9 percent of his face-offs.”
ADAM BOQVIST, DEFENSEMEN, BRYNAS JR.:
Per Adam Kimelman of NHL.com: “The right-shot defenseman has the skills and size of another Sweden-born defenseman, Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators. Boqvist likely will need at least one more SHL season to add strength and improve his consistency and commitment to the defensive side of the puck, but then should add a high-end puck-moving piece.”
TY SMITH, DEFENSEMAN, SPOKANE:
Per Scott Wheeler of The Athletic: “He’s one of the better playmaking defencemen in a class full of scoring D, and he has become a go-to defender as the year has gone on despite his 5-foot-10 frame. Still, I like his blend of poised handling and assertive up-ice vision.”
BODE WILDE, DEFENSEMEN, USA-U 18:
Per Corey Pronman of The Athletic: “Bode is a bit of a Wilde card (I apologize for nothing). He can blow you away on a given shift. His speed and skill level for a 6-foot-2 defenseman is elite.”