The New York Islanders have options for a left fielder this offseason
The New York Islanders enter the offseason with a handful of priorities to help the roster. After a head coaching change, where the Islanders fired Barry Trotz and promoted Lane Lambert to head coach, the issues are now shifting for Lou Lamoriello and the front office to the on-ice team.
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Among the Islanders’ needs are a scorer, a puck distributor and a two-way defenseman. A defender is a particular need as the team struggled on the left side of defense last season, especially in the last pairings. Besides, Noah Dobson, who is emerging as one of the Islanders’ best young defensemen and in the game needs a defender to play alongside him and, along with Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock, will create a second team defense duo .
Jakob Chychrun is the top defenseman in the trade block with the Arizona Coyotes looking to add more prospects and draft picks while the rest of the league looks to pursue the talented defenseman. He is coming off a difficult 2021-22 season where he dealt with injuries, scored just seven goals and 14 assists, and contributed just 1.1 defensive points, the lowest in his career. career. However, several teams are interested in acquiring the 24-year-old defenseman who is entering his prime and the Islanders will be no exception.
The question is whether the Islanders can move enough players to acquire an elite defenseman like Chychrun. Although the prospect pool is one of the worst in the league, the team could move some veteran players with draft picks to acquire it. Ultimately, the Coyotes will accept the best offer and if the Islanders can offer the best offer, they can secure the two-way defenseman.
Acquiring Chychrun would pay off for the Islanders next season and for years to come. The defense would have top pairings and Dobson would play alongside another scoring defenseman who would ultimately open the ice for the rest of the skaters to boost an offense that struggled last season. Chychrun is the ideal defenseman to pair with Dobson and the one the Islanders ideally want to acquire in a trade, but the team has to hope the Coyotes are ready to face him this offseason.
Brenden Dillon isn’t the first defenseman that comes to mind, but the veteran has a solid 10-year career, especially in the defensive zone. He was a key defenseman for the San Jose Sharks for six seasons, helping them reach the Stanley Cup Finals and the Western Conference Finals while playing on second pair. Likewise, he helped the Washington Capitals’ defense improve through two seasons with the team before being traded to the Winnipeg Jets last offseason. While the 31-year-old defenseman played in a struggling Jets defensive unit, allowing 3.09 goals per game, he still had a solid season with 4.0 defensive point shares and 108 blocked shots .
The Jets could look to revamp their roster this offseason after missing the playoffs. As a result, they could look to move Dillon who has three years left on his contract and could give the team a solid return in a trade as a valuable defender. Although he won’t open up the offense or have a strong presence from the point, he would secure the left side of the Islanders’ defense playing alongside Dobson or Scott Mayfield. The veteran defenseman has a reputation for improving defensive units and the Islanders could potentially have one of the best defenses in the NHL like the unit they had in the 2020-21 season which allowed just 2, 23 goals per game.
The Montreal Canadiens finished last season with the worst record in the NHL, 22-49-11. While the team may try to be competitive next season, the Habs are more likely to face a tough rebuild and will look to trade some veterans in the offseason. Jeff Petry still has three years left on his contract and an amended no-trade clause, but for a solid offer, could be traded this offseason and the Islanders could be a perfect fit.
At 34, Petry is past his prime and no longer has the same speed and ability to score from the blue line as before. Additionally, the veteran defenseman is coming off a tough season on the Canadiens’ defence, which allowed a league-worst 3.87 goals per game. However, he’s still a great two-way defenseman who could help the Islanders’ defense for years to come. The Islanders are hoping their defensive unit is younger next season and will look to acquire a player under 30, but a veteran defender who can still open up the offense from the point, but will also benefit the team and will also help put the defense on top. .
The Calgary Flames player everyone will be looking to acquire this offseason is pending free agent Johnny Gaudreau, who completed a season where he scored 40 goals and 75 assists. However, the Flames, who are currently in contention for the Stanley Cup, enter the offseason with several free agents pending, including two left-backs in Oliver Kylington and Nikita Zadorov. While Kylington is a restricted free agent who will likely be re-signed, Zadorov will likely test free agency after enjoying a solid season on one of the NHL’s best defenses. The 27-year-old defenseman wouldn’t put the Islanders’ defense over the top and necessarily open up the offense, but would provide stability, especially in the neutral zone and defensive zone as a reliable skater.
Other Defenders Islanders Could Acquire
The Islanders could acquire Nick Leddy, who the team traded in the 2021 offseason but is a pending free agent and could re-sign with the team he had his best season with. Leddy is 31 and has struggled defensively, but the two-way defenseman is an excellent puck handler and has been central to the Islanders’ power play. The team felt his absence this season as the defense seemed slower and struggled to carry the puck out of the defensive zone. Ultimately, the front office is looking to find some speed and a two-way defender who can help fill the void that currently sits on the left side of the unit. Some of the prospects like Robin Salo or Grant Hutton could impact the defensive unit next season, but the front office will more likely be looking to make a splash this offseason.
Mike Fink joined The Hockey Writers in November 2020 and covers the New York Islanders. In addition to covering the Islanders, Fink has written for several sports blogs and platforms spanning NHL, NFL, MLB and college sports. Follow Mike on Twitter @Finks_Thoughts for more islanders and general hockey news.