UPDATE: As I finish this, the Islanders just acquired Pageau for first, second and third round picks. Welcome to Brooklyn and Long Island, Jean-Gabriel! I hope your two names like our two rinks.
The Islanders recently lost four straight games and the Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin is setting the world on fire. The usually late season panic is setting in. It’s even worse now that the Rangers have resurrected their irrelevant season. Do I hope for a division win? Now that the Capitals got Ilya Kovalchuk, not really.
I just want the Islanders to limp into the playoffs ahead of the (storm) surging Hurricanes, Columbus, Philadelphia, and Rangers.
GM Lou Lamoriello made a solid move in getting Devils veteran Andy Greene, who has seen about 20 more winters that Adam Pelech, who’s out for the year. I feel like I’m supposed to mix in a line about “veteran locker room presence” here, but instead I’ll point out that Greene is probably better than Pelech. Pelech is decent, but Nick Leddy is way better quarterback with the puck. And, I’ll admit, Pelech is my whipping boy the past couple of seasons, so I want to be fair. But Greene’s physical game is an upgrade compared to Pelech especially heading into the playoffs.
The Islanders still need some help on forward. Barry Trotz coached Washington to a Stanley Cup by breaching responsible hockey to Alex Ovechkin, who scored his 700th goal on my birthday and the 40th ann’y of the Miracle on Ice. My point is, Mat Barzal isn’t Nick Backstrom yet, and Anders Lee isn’t Ovi.
I’m going to rub Uncle Lou’s head for good luck. I hope there’s some genius left in there from the 90’s.
Team Need: A Cal Clutterbuck replacement. He’s been out for two months since his wrist surgery after getting cut by Patrice Bergeron’s skate in a bizarre collision.
You’ll never replace the mustache, but you should replace some of the 20 points per season he’s averaged in six years with the Islanders. With Casey Cizikas out for another 2-3 weeks, the Islanders beloved 4th line is without two of its three amigos.
In addition to grind line duties, each of the amigos has a superpower: Clutterbuck can snipe. He can also plug into the powerplay or to the other lines if someone gets hurt.
Cizikas is a great penalty killer and faceoff specialist. Without him, the Islanders are at 42% on faceoffs according to the sometimes helpful TV broadcast. With lost goals and possessions, the Islanders need to bring in some skill on forward.
Wish List: Conor Sheary, Sabres (9 G, 10 A, 19 PTS)
I haven’t followed the Sabres much this year, but Sheary is probably capable of better numbers. Maybe 25-35 points is a more reasonable expectation for Sheary than his 53 points in 2016-17, but he’s a goalscorer. He can slide up and down the lineup and play special teams. Cody Eakin is roughly comparable and just went for a 4th round pick. I’d give up 3rd round for Sheary. Same range probably for Michael Frolik.
Never Gonna Happen List: Anze Kopitar, Kings (18 G, 36 A, 56 PTS), Chris Kreider, Rangers (24 G, 21 A, 45 PTS)
Kopitar or Kreider would come at a pretty penny, but he would give the Islanders two dynamic centers. Two 1st round picks? One 1st round pick and Scott Mayfield, defensive defenseman? I’d go as far as Pulock and a 1st round pick if Kreider re-signed with the Islanders. It doesn’t strike me as a Lamoriello move, but a boy can dream.