With the NHL Draft looming, New York Islanders fans are finally able to breathe a sigh of relief that the organization is in good hands.
How about that for some drama?
The way things are going right now, the upcoming weekend is shaping up to be the most consequential three-day period in franchise history.
Let’s backtrack for a second.
On May 21, the New York Islanders pegged former Maple Leafs and Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello to run their hockey operations. He proceeded to clean house, dismissing Garth Snow and Doug Weight from their respective positions on June 5.
Just two weeks later, he hired former Capitals head coach Barry Trotz to be the team’s bench boss. Trotz helped the Caps win their first-ever Stanley Cup in 2018, but wanted to go somewhere that would pay him handsomely. The Islanders were the only club with a coaching vacancy, and things just fell into place.
So now the Islanders have a general manager with a Hall of Fame résumé and a head honcho with Lord Stanley’s Cup under his belt. This a step up from the previous cast, which featured a backup goaltender and a coach without prior experience.
“Barry brings to the New York Islanders franchise a tremendous amount of knowledge, experience and success,” Lamoriello said in the official release.
So where do they go from here?
In a cryptic tweet, Andrew Gross of Newsday wrote that while it’s not a done deal, it “sounds like the Islanders may have good news on John Tavares as well.” Brian Compton of NHL.com agrees, writing that he doesn’t think Trotz would have taken the job if he wasn’t convinced that Tavares would stay.
In case you missed it, the Islanders’ captain and franchise cornerstone is an unrestricted free agent and has been linked to a number of teams over the past few months. Coming to terms with Tavares would help the Islanders regain some of the credibility that they’ve lost over the last two decades.
Writes Mark Herrmann for Newsday, “For Tavares, it is time to take a better look at a situation that looks a lot better.”
The situation looks good no matter how you slice it. The Islanders own two first-round — no. 11 and no. 12 — and second-round picks at Friday night’s draft. While they have gaping holes to fill, specifically on defense and in net, they also have the tools to do so.
Last month, we took a look at some of the guys that the Isles could potentially target in the event. There’s Joe Veleno, a jack-of-all-trades player whose path to the NHL seems clearer than most. There’s Barrett Hayton, a relentless forechecker who could contribute to both the power play and penalty kill. There’s even Ty Smith, who was the first overall pick at the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft.
Whatever Lamoriello decides to do with these picks, whether he wants to keep them or use them to get a goalie, this weekend is shaping up to be extremely important.
Get your popcorn ready, because you haven’t seen anything yet.