The trade deadline has always been a tricky time for the Islanders and their fans. For close to a decade, excitement and enthusiasm to start usually ended with frustration and the feeling of missed opportunity. But things have shifted under the regime headed by Lou Lamoriello. The Isles g.m. has proven the last two years he’s not afraid to make bold moves when his club is need of them.
Last year, the circumstances were different when Lamoriello acquired d-man Andy Greene — whom played under Lou as a part of his run with the Devils — and center man J.G. Pageau to help fill the voids left by Adam Pelech and Casey Cizikas, both who were dealing with serious injuries. Then yesterday, he took a huge swing and landed goal scorer Kyle Palmieri and veteran Travis Zajac, another Lamoriello disciple if you didn’t know. In one-fell swoop, the Isles went from good team to one who could win a Stanley Cup this spring.
And that brings us to now: there should be no more excuses for why this team can’t win the whole damn thing.
“What they bring to our team is obvious,” Lamoriello, preached to reporters after the trade was completed last night. “I am excited to have them be a part of our organization right now. I know what they bring on the ice, I also know who they are as people and how well they’ll fit in the locker room here. Chemistry is extremely important to me, but their experience, their talents and competitiveness, especially in this division, knowing what they have to go through is exciting.”
Taking the Anders Lee injury out of the equation — because yes we all know how much his meant to the team on and off the ice as their captain — the Islanders and how they are built from the net on out, are the best they’ve been in close to 20 years. This group is well-balanced on offense, both infused by a solid mix of youth and veterans. Adding Palmieri and Zajac to that forward corps plays huge in terms of scoring (we’re looking at you Mathew Barzal) and an even stronger presence on the bottom-six, and that’s with all due respect to Leo Komarov, Michael Dal Colle and Kieffer Bellows. Defensively, they continue to be among one of the top in the league. Pelech, Ryan Pulock and Nick Leddy have been excellent this season. Noah Dobson’s emergence too has provided another element. And their goaltending duo Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin, have formed into one of the top duos in the league. Varlamov just posted his fourth shutout of the year making 29 saves on Tuesday night against Washington.
If there’s a hole in this team after last night, you’d have a hard time finding it.
We’d be remiss not to think back to all the talk over the years with this franchise always revolving around that “one missing piece” to get them over the hump (cough 2015, 2016, 2019). Pageau was sort of that last year with how he performed in the bubble postseason. But with this group now — and that includes Pageau in the fold long-term — that narrative should be a thing of the past.
This franchise is going for it. All the pieces are in place for the Islanders to do something really special.
So, we can all let go of the Tyler Kennedys, Sebastian Collbergs, the Shane Princes, Michal Neuvirths, Chris Wagners and Brandon Davidson’s. The deals made last night and last year for that matter signaled this organization wants to win at all cost.
‘You bring in two guys who we have played a lot over our careers,” Casey Cizikas said this morning. “Guys were excited and jumpy this morning over what happened last night.”
There is reason to jump for joy right now if you’re an Islander fan. They’re is still plenty of work to be done though. But there shouldn’t be anymore excuses made anymore for their shortcomings of the past.
The Islanders are here to win and win big.
Follow Rob on Twitter at @RTaub_