The New York Islanders find themselves disappointed in two ways this summer. First they still haven’t got a new arena deal that will keep them on Long Island, meaning they could become the first team to have won a Stanley Cup and then relocate outside their market in the modern NHL. The second is another lottery finish. They have the fourth pick overall. Even with the ever rising cap, if the new CBA has a penalty free buyout clause, it’s likely Rick Dipietro is no longer an Islander by the start of the new season.
What do the Islanders need? Goaltending is the obvious position of need and it is likely they will address it at some point in the draft. I don’t see them revisiting the past and drafting any goalie in the first round, not unless they end up with multiple picks, and even then the chance to stock the blueline with the bumper crop of top shelf defenseman has to be irresistible to any organization that has finished 27th and 28th twice each in goals against in the last five years. Even high end goaltenders need help in front of them, and getting a couple guys all at once who could grow into their duties together would change the course of the franchise.
They do also need a second center. Right now John Tavares is besieged not just by the best defensemen other teams have, but by their best defenisve lines as well. A Jordan Staal like player of one can be found to fill the second line duties would do a lot for the team. There are however the rumors floating about the web that they might be willing to trade their pick. I’ve read they might be looking to move up, or possibly out.
If they can get NHL ready players now I’m all for moving out. At fourth, with their needs and their offensive prospects, I don’t see moving up as a sensible move. If defense is the smartest move they can make, and I do think it is, sitting still unless they get a blockbuster offer is more than acceptable. Simple mathematics dictate that with only three picks ahead of them, and Yakupov likely gone first that no more than two of: Finn, Dumba, Reinhart, Reilly, Ceci, Trouba, or Murray can be gone. While each has their own skill set, any of them (and several others) are a net gain.
The top two priorities for a defenseman would be health and the ability to get the puck out of their own zone. The defense really is their biggest issue. Nabokov finished ahead of or tied with over half a dozen goalies who’s teams saw playoff action. Yes, he’s not a long term solution but the team has to start fixing its issues somewhere.