When the New York Islanders decided to stay quiet at the trade deadline and not make any moves, a lot of people were quick to criticize.
An alarming concern for most fans was that the Islanders did not have a “goal-scorer” and many believed the team did not have the offensive capability to continue their regular season success into the playoffs. Their top player, Mat Barzal, only finished with 62 points. So, some fans feared that the Islanders would be “no match” for teams in the playoffs and a quick first round exit would follow.
Despite these concerns, the Islanders had a relatively successful postseason run. They swept the favored Pittsburgh Penguins, completing a sweep for the first time since 1983, before falling to the Hurricanes. In four games, the Islanders put up 14 goals and limited the star-filled Penguins to just six. Although the Islanders did not pour it on the Penguins offensively, they made up for it with their defense.
“There’s not a lot of risk associated with the Islanders game,” said Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan. “They’ve got numbers back and they have a defense first mentality.”
The Islanders defense sucked the life out of the Penguins. During the series, the Islanders defense was for the most part always back, so the Penguins could not beat the Islanders defense with speed and create scoring opportunities. Consequently, the Penguins barely had any odd-man rushes.
On top of that, the Islanders had Robin Lehner, who made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut against the Penguins, and came up huge for the Islanders, stopping 130 out of 136 shots. Not bad for someone’s first time in the playoffs. In the four games, the Islanders only trailed the Penguins for a whopping four minutes and 51 seconds.
Even though the Islanders did not make a splash at the trade deadline and missed out on some of the players who are paying big dividends for their respectable organizations, the Islanders still made the right call by not making a move.
Although it would be nice to have Mark Stone or Matt Duchene on the Islanders roster, there was no guarantee that those players were going to sign long-term contracts with the Islanders. There was little to no point in gutting the team’s future to go all in.
The Islanders have a bright future and their prospects have shown a lot of promise. Oliver Wahlstrom, who the Islanders selected last year at the NHL Draft, has drawn comparisons to Alex Ovechkin. Noah Dobson, another selection from last year, has drawn comparisons to Seth Jones, with his big six-foot, three-inch frame.
So, the question is: why give up one of these prospects at the deadline? This may seem tough to take in, but the Islanders are not in any rush to win, so it makes no sense for them to give up their young talent.
This is only the first season with Lou Lamoriello running the organization and Barry Trotz behind the bench. And the team is way ahead of schedule. At the start of the season, the Islanders were predicted to be one of the worst teams in the NHL and they were not even supposed to make the playoffs.
So, when the trade deadline approached and the Islanders were first in the Metropolitan division, Lou Lamoriello did the correct thing by keeping the franchise’s prospects. There was no need to ruin the Islanders future when this team is only going to get better over time. The Islanders have a young roster and like a fine red wine they are going to continue to get better as they age. There is currently is no rush to win the Cup when the future is so bright.