It’s finally happened. After 634 days, New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello has made his second trade in his tenure as the Isles GM. Lamoriello and the Islanders acquired veteran defenseman, Andy Greene, from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for defenseman David Quenneville and a 2021 second-round draft pick.
While at first glance a second-round pick appears to be a slight overpay, make no mistake acquiring Greene was necessary with defenseman Adam Pelech out of commission, as he will provide stability on the Islanders blue line.
What the Isles Gave Up
Quenneville was drafted in the seventh round, 200th overall in the 2016 NHL draft by the Islanders. He is in the second year of his three-year entry-level contract. He’s an offensive defenseman who had his best year back in the 2017-18 season playing in the Western Hockey League with the Medicine Hat Tigers. In 70 games, he scored 26 goals and added 54 helpers for 80 points. While that seems to be an appealing statistic for the young prospect, that success hasn’t translated to the AHL or ECHL levels. In addition, he stands at 5-foot-8 and 190 pounds, and while many players have overcome the size obstacle to make their mark in the NHL, it’s a little tougher to do so on defense.
As far as the second-round pick in 2021, what are the Isles really losing? To date, the only player drafted by the Islanders in the second round and is in the NHL lineup today is Scott Mayfield. Mayfield was drafted in 2011, 34th overall. It wasn’t until the 2017-18 season that he transformed himself into a serviceable NHL defenseman with 47 games played. However, the 2018-19 season was his breakout season, solidifying himself as a regular top-six defender. Therefore, the reality of the 2021 second-round draft pick turning into a contributing NHL player will likely take until about the 2025-26 NHL season.
The Isles Return: Andy Greene
Greene is likely a rental defenseman to help a struggling Islanders’ defensive core for the rest of the 2019-20 season. According to CapFriendly, the Islanders will only be paying Greene $1,317,204 throughout the rest of the campaign. He was brought on board for multiple reasons, such as the first reason stated earlier, filling Pelech’s void. Lamoriello went with what, or rather who he knew, having signed Greene as an undrafted free agent in 2006 with the Devils. Greene had to waive his no-trade clause to come to the Islanders and likely did so with the comfortability of working with Lamoriello in the past, plus not being far from his home in New Jersey.
Greene told Arthur Staple of The Athletic, “The last two years the Islanders look very familiar to me — they look like a Lou Lamoriello team…” (from ‘Islanders reach into GM’s past to patch a defensive hole with Andy Greene’, The AthleticNHL – 2/16/20)
The former Devils captain will help stabilize the defensive pairs head coach Barry Trotz will roll out through the rest of the season. At 37 years old, Greene was still playing just over 20 minutes a night for the Devils, which will help alleviate some of the pressure that has been put on Isles rookie defenseman, Noah Dobson. Trotz has been reluctant to trust Dobson at times, forcing guys like Ryan Pulock, Devon Toews and Nick Leddy to play more minutes than usual.
Over the past month, Trotz has been heavily relying on five defensemen. It’s been evident in Pelech’s absence that the Islanders’ blueliners are struggling with the added minutes, and Isles’ goaltenders Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greiss have suffered the consequences.
Greene has done it all but win the Stanley Cup, appearing in the Cup Final in 2012 when the Devils faced the Los Angeles Kings. He has a defense-first mindset and will be a big contribution to the penalty kill for the Islanders. With Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck out of commission as well, Greene will provide the stability missing on the team’s penalty kill. In addition, he has the ability to keep the puck out of the net in his own zone and will move the puck up the ice. Since his first full season in 2009-10, he has only played in under 80 games twice, lockout year excluded. His point totals won’t “wow” anyone, but the underrated defenseman wasn’t brought to Long Island for those reasons.
By no means should Lamoriello be satisfied with the belief he has acquired the necessary reinforcements that the Islanders need in order to make a deep playoff run. The Islanders still very much lack a top-six forward with a scoring touch, which the team desperately needs. The inconsistencies of scorers like Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle and Anthony Beauvillier filling the net have been evident this season. The Islanders are coming off being shut out in back to back games, and although acquiring Greene was a necessary move to make, the over-performing Islanders deserve the goalscorer they have lacked for some time now.
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