The Isles going as far as they did in this year’s playoffs was shocking to everyone not watching, but every team wants to win the Stanley Cup, and only the top-tier teams can ever truly compete for it (think Tampa or Vegas).
New York might not be there yet, but they can be with a few tweaks.
Firstly, the new UBS Arena will be open in time for the 2021-22 season. Getting a new stadium was a huge part in resigning Anders Lee and Brock Nelson, and it will be a long time coming for Islanders fans who are some of the most passionate in the sport. But that will come in time, it’s the front office we need to take a closer look at.
The most important thing the Islanders need to do is to not mess up free-agency.
The team traded their first two picks in the 2020 draft to Ottawa for Jean-Gabriel Pageau, so they don’t pick until the 3rd round in this upcoming draft.
There are a couple of young RFAs they need to take care of (a certain Calder trophy winner included), and decisions need to be made on some of the older players who are UFAs. They will probably do away with Thomas Greiss unfortunately, since they have goaltending prospect Ilya Sorokin coming up soon, and the Islanders’ cap space isn’t at the greatest spot. That may be the only certainty, but they also need to decide what to do with skaters like Tom Kühnhackl and Derrick Brassard.
Since their cap space isn’t exactly breathable, Lamoriello will have to work around the fact that most (if not all) of that space will be used on the aforementioned young RFAs. But given his track record, Islanders fans can trust that he will make the best decisions for the team.
The actual performance on the ice needs to change as well, but we can look at that once the season is truly over for the Isles.
No one expected the Islanders to be one of the top 4 teams in the league, or for them to be the last Metro division team standing, and fans should be happy about that progress, but the team can be better.
Lou has his work cut out for him, and with the right moves, the Isles can be right back in the Conference Finals… perhaps farther.
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