The New York Islanders are making a late push for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. After starting the 2020-21 season with only five wins in their first 20 games, the Islanders have rebounded and currently have 14 wins in 34 games. Considering the team’s trajectory, it’s likely that Lou Lamoriello and the front office will make a move at the trade deadline to strengthen the roster.
The Islanders can look within the Metropolitan Division to make a deal, as they did last season with the New Jersey Devils, acquiring both Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac at the trade deadline. The Columbus Blue Jackets are once again, having a rough season and look poised to trade away some of their players to help the team further rebuild, especially players who have contracts expiring in the offseason. For the Islanders, the Blue Jackets have multiple players that can play specific roles in helping the team and with the right offer, could bring in the ideal player for a playoff push and possible Stanley Cup run.
Since trading Nick Leddy in the offseason, the Islanders have lacked the scoring defense that can also effectively carry the puck into the offensive zone. Noah Dobson leads the defensive unit with five goals and nine assists, but the rest of the defensive unit has struggled to make an impact from the point, limiting the offense from opening up opposing defenses and creating extra scoring chances.
At 21 years old, Adam Boqvist has already been traded in his young career as one of the many players moved in the blockbuster trade that sent defenseman Seth Jones to the Chicago Blackhawks. Boqvist is one of the young defensemen the Blue Jackets will want to build around for the future and will likely avoid trading him at the deadline as he is still developing at the defensive position. However, the young defensemen’s entry-level contract expires after this season, and he will become a restricted free agent.
Boqvist is having a career year, especially on the offensive end of the ice with seven goals and seven assists. The Blue Jackets would be able to trade the young defenseman and receive a strong return considering his impact to the offensive end of the ice while the Islanders would open up their offense from the point with a two-way, great skating defenseman. The Islanders would have to make a big offer, but the move would pay off for this season and possibly for the foreseeable future as the team can re-sign Boqvist in the offseason.
The Islanders will look for a forward who not only can help the lower lines on offense but help the rest of the lineup finish off scoring chances. The team has goal scorers in Anders Lee and Brock Nelson who can take advantage of a loose puck near the net or a great pass in the offensive zone, but the forward unit still needs a skater that can open up the ice and create those open shots. Blue Jackets forward Max Domi might not be the big name on the trade market but would help solve those issues for the Islanders at the trade deadline.
Domi is on an expiring contract and will become an unrestricted free agent, making him a likely trade candidate on the Blue Jackets, especially if the team continues to struggle. While Domi’s numbers have dropped since his career year in 2018-19 when he scored 28 goals and 44 assists with the Montreal Canadiens, playing alongside a center that opens up the ice and finishes scoring chances can take advantage of his skill set while also helping the Islanders offense altogether. The Blue Jackets forward is only 26 years old, allowing him to impact any roster for years to come, and playing alongside Nelson or Jean-Gabriel Pageau could turn the Islanders forward unit into one of the deepest in the NHL.
Jack Roslovic was acquired by the Blue Jackets along with Patrik Laine, in the deal that sent Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Winnipeg Jets. Roslovic is a restricted free agent at the end of the season and has been a great contributor to the bottom forward lines scoring 12 goals in each of the last two seasons, and like Domi, is a winger that can open up the offense. The Blue Jackets could re-sign the 24-year-old forward when the season is over, but he is a valuable skater that can add to the scoring depth of any team and the Islanders might look to make the move.
Othe Blue Jackets the Islanders Can Acquire
The Islanders, like many teams, will want to see if Laine is available for a trade considering he is a free agent at the end of the season. The Blue Jackets will also look to possibly help their rebuild by searching for a trade partner for Gustav Nyquist who can add a goal-scoring presence and contribute to a roster for this season and the next one. Ultimately, the Islanders can acquire a rental from their divisional opponent without having to make a major move or trading away too many assets while also adding depth to the lineup.
Mike Fink joined The Hockey Writers in November 2020 and covers the New York Islanders. In addition to covering the Islanders, Fink has written for multiple sports blogs and platforms covering the NHL, NFL, MLB, and college sports. Follow Mike on Twitter @Finks_thoughts for more Islanders and general hockey insights.