In the three years that Lou Lamoriello has reigned supreme over the Islanders, there have been moments where he’s put his handprints on the franchise. The obvious ones immediately stick out.
Hiring head coach Barry Trotz coming off a Stanley Cup win. Trading for J.G. Pageau/Andy Greene and Kyle Palmieri/Travis Zajac at consecutive trade deadlines. Finally bringing over Russian netminder Ilya Sorokin to North America.
All of these decisions have worked out for the Isles so far in the short term and hopefully eventually will stay the same as the years go on.
Then there’s been this offseason, which might go down as one of the most important and difficult for the organization since Lamoriello arrived (yes, even more than trying to re-sign John Tavares). For the most part it was relatively quiet — except it really wasn’t truly in any shape or form as we found out yesterday — and now it could also be remembered as the point in time where Lamoriello put his proverbial stamp on the franchise.
Why? The Isles’ g.m. somehow — and maybe we shouldn’t be surprised how he did it because he is a Hall of Famer — was able to keep a majority of the squad that has now been a conference/semi-finalist in back-to-back years together, all the while ensuring they stay competitive for the future while dealing with a strenuous cap situation.
It’s not always easy keeping everybody,” Casey Cizikas said yesterday. “But Lou did a really good job of bringing back as many of us as possible. Going into the season, it’s exciting, we have big shoes to fill and we’re ready for the challenge ahead.”
None of the things Lamoriello did this summer can be seen as a true negative. Has there been some sadness? Sure. Having to trade Nick Leddy to Detroit probably wasn’t ideal. Leddy was such an integral part of the resurgence of the organization the last seven years. Seeing Jordan Eberle go to the expansion Seattle Kraken probably hurt too. But those transactions were necessary to provide Lamoriello the flexibility to make other moves that were considered higher priority. And the maneuvering and ability to pull them off in the way he did was a masterclass of sorts.
He was able to get Andrew Ladd’s albatross of a contract off the books for gods sake. A task which was nearly considered impossible; he got it done (thanks John Chayka!). That alone should win Lamoriello a third straight GM of the Year Award. We’re joking, or maybe not.
The deals he got Adam Pelech, Anthony Beauvillier, Casey Cizikas, Ilya Sorokin and Zach Parise to sign? All of them bring a ton of value, and have the chance to look even better down the line.
Now is there is still work to be done with training camp approaching? Yes. A replacement for Leddy hasn’t been found yet. That said, Lamoriello showed he had a plan this summer and executed it to a tee. So, there shouldn’t be panic he won’t have another trick up his sleeve in regards to that spot.
But the Islanders are better than they were when the offseason began. And it’s because of what Lamoriello did with his limited resources and how he used them to the best he could.
Isles fans should be pleased with the results and should be excited at what’s to come. How Lamoriello was able to navigate this summer was nothing short of incredible. His stamp on this team’s present and future has now been made.
Follow Rob on Twitter at @RTaub_