The New York Islanders have a lot to be optimistic about. Coach Barry Trotz has his team playing at a decent level of hockey recently with a 5-3-2 record in their last 10 games (33-17-6 overall). Pending unrestricted free agent goaltender Thomas Greiss has been on fire, with a 16-8-2 record, posting a 2.65 GAA and a .916 save percentage so far this season. The Islanders are 7 points back of 1st place in the Metropolitan Division, with a game in hand on the division-leading Washington Capitals.
The Islanders have made it clear they have serious intentions to buy at this year’s trade deadline, as they have been linked to Rangers forward Chris Kreider, Senators Center JG Pageau, Kings forward Tyler Toffoli, and Devils forward Kyle Palmieri. Due to divisional rivalries, we don’t see the Rangers or Devils dealing their star players to the Islanders or any team in the Metropolitan Division for that matter. We believe that the Islanders’ main targets are Tyler Toffoli and JG Pageau. The Islanders have Matt Barzal and Ryan Pulock set to become restricted free agents this summer, and probably won’t want to deal for Palmieri, as he has a $4.65 million cap hit carrying over into next season, while the rest of the players we mentioned are pending unrestricted free agents.
Tyler Toffoli is still a very talented player with loads of potential. His career AB score is an impressive +2.55, despite the fact he’s coming off of his worst AB season since 2012-2013. Before this, however, Toffoli registered back to back +6 AB scores, which is tremendously high. He has already exceeded his goal total from last season, as he currently has 14, and is 4 points away from matching last season’s total as well. Toffoli is one of the Kings’ leaders in drawn penalties with 10 as opposed to the 8 he has taken. He also is tied for the team lead in takeaways with 30, with 29 giveaways as well. Toffoli has played in all but one of the Kings’ games this season and has been a rare bright spot for this team. Jean-Gabriel Pageau has already topped his career-high in goals in almost 30 fewer games and has 35 games of playoff experience under his belt. Despite the fact he has back to back seasons of negative AB production, his career AB score is a solid +1.85. Pageau is among the better players on the Senators when it comes to drawing penalties, as he currently has drawn 10 more penalties than he has taken. Pageau also has a solid takeaway/giveaway ratio with a 26:24 and has the best +/- on the Senators with +9.
The Islanders have made it clear they aren’t willing to part with top prospects Oliver Wahlstrom or Bodie Wilde. However, if GM Lou Lamoriello wants to improve his team for this year’s playoff run, he will probably need to part with his 2020 1st round pick, which he is prepared to do. It’ll surely be interesting to see what Lou does decide to do at the quickly approaching deadline, as the Islanders look to redeem themselves after getting swept in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Carolina Hurricanes last season.