The New York Islanders season has reached a critical stage, and for general manager Lou Lamoriello, the heat has been turned up to a different level.
With the NHL Trade Deadline just days away, the Isles have lost four straight games following last night’s 3-1 loss in Colorado. They’ve produced only two goals over the previous 240 minutes of play and are now are positioned in the second wild-card spot in the Metropolitan Division.
“Right now we’re going through some adversity, some guys are drying up, we’ve got some people out, and we need some people to step up,” head coach Barry Trotz said after the game. “We can’t look back on this trip, we can’t do anything repair this trip, but we can repair our next game and the following game and focus on what’s ahead of us.”
That frustration being shown by Trotz, the players in the room and the fans, has been mounting for a while. The Islanders’ offense has all but vanished, defensively they’re struggling even with the addition of Andy Greene for Adam Pelech, and the goaltending has been spotty for several weeks now. The playoffs aren’t a guarantee now either as it once was earlier this season when the team manufactured a 17-game point streak.
Those factors combined should provide Lamoriello with enough motivation to make an impact move or two.
Why, you ask?
The East still very much seems open this year, and the Islanders aren’t that far off from being one of those top-echelon teams. They’ve also shown they can play with some of those top teams, having beaten Tampa, Boston, Washington, etc. And getting that extra bit of help could also shorten that gap and give them the boost to make some noise this last quarter of the season.
Plus, a seismic move for the franchise is long, long overdue. No disrespect to Andy Greene, but the Isles haven’t had make-you-jump-out-of-your-seat trade in-season since Thomas Vanek in 2013. You could also throw Ryan Smyth in there, but guess what, that’s already 13 years ago when former g.m. Garth Snow was in his first season calling the shots upstairs. Also, it’s not as if Lamoriello, during his tenure on Long Island, hasn’t shown any unwillingness to add to the organization. He took his swing at Artemi Panarin in the offseason, and he was in on forwards Mark Stone and Matt Duchene at last year’s deadline though before they were dealt elsewhere.
So you see, Lamoriello could very much get something done. And yes, we all know he’s harped on if a deal is struck that acquisition has to be the right fit and bring the right character to the Isles’ room. But, in the position his team is in at this moment, sometimes you have to put those things to the side and just go for it for the sake of keeping your team moving in the right direction.
The stakes are higher more than ever for Lamoriello to make this team better. This is a win-now team despite what some may say. And missing the postseason would be an abject failure on Lou, as well as the entire organization, especially after the Islanders shocked the hockey world with 103-point season and a first-round sweep of the Penguins.
The Islanders will play two more times before Monday’s deadline, starting tonight against Detroit. Whatever happens during that time, it won’t change the fact that the pressure is on Lamoriello to get something done.
He needs too.
The Isles season might be hanging in the balance.