The New York Islanders’ captain, Anders Lee, suffered a season-ending injury in March. Consequently, General Manager Lou Lamoriello needed a net-front presence that would bolster a weakened Islanders’ offense. The team immediately experienced a decline in their play. If they wanted to contend, they needed to fill a large void. So, Lamoriello resorted to bringing in familiar faces from the New Jersey Devils. Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac packed their bags and got a legitimate opportunity for a championship. In return, New Jersey received a 2021 first-round selection and two minor-leaguers.
Palmieri and Zajac’s Impact On The Island
Lamoriello might have addressed this void on paper, but how did it pan out? Palmieri had an underwhelming start to his Islanders tenure. Through 17 games, he had a disappointing four points. Zajac had lackluster production too, only putting up two points in 13 games. However, Lamoriello acquired the veteran duo to perform in the playoffs, where it matters the most. Palmieri was impressive; he was tied with Brock Nelson for goals scored in the playoffs.
Zajac appeared in Game 6 of the first round following Oliver Wahlstrom‘s injury. While he failed to make an impact on the scoresheet, he was stellar defensively. The Islanders’ third line oftentimes skated against the Boston Bruins’ top line. They made Boston’s life miserable as they were limited in production the entire series.
2021 NHL Entry Draft
Most NHL experts consider this a weak year for the draft. Due to the Islanders’ final four appearances, the Devils will have a selection in the late twenties. Given the draft class talent and the role played by the ex-Devils, right now the Islanders won the trade. Of course, as fans see the selection develop, that may change. It was a good move made by both organizations since the Devils need young talent to set the framework for future success.
The Islanders are a team that has shown that they are on the cusp of a championship. Their window will close relatively soon. Therefore, it was sensible to give up a first-round selection in a weak draft. Lamoriello may also resign the veterans where their impact will be longer than expected. In that case, it is another plus in favor of the Isles.
Looking Back At 2020 Trade Deadline
Last year, Lamoriello acquired Jean-Gabriel Pageau for a first-round selection. The Islanders had a similar performance in the 2020 playoffs and gave up a similar selection. That offseason, the Islanders resigned Pageau and he has played a vital role since then. If the Islanders choose to extend Palmieri’s time on the Island, it is safe to say the Islanders won their last two trade deadlines.
Lamoriello and the Islanders’ front office have proven that the trade deadline can change the potential and direction of a team. Two years in a row, Lamoriello was voted best general manager, and both years the Islanders were a final-four team. Therefore, the Islanders’ recent moves should be used for reference around the NHL.