The New York Islanders are looking to make a big move in the offseason. Whether the team signs a free agent or acquires a star player in a trade, general manager (GM) Lou Lamoriello is looking to add talent to a team that took a step back last season and failed to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Montreal Canadiens forward Josh Anderson is apparently available, and the front office is exploring possible trades as part of a rebuild. The Islanders could be one of the teams but only at the right price, especially considering what he would contribute offensively.
Islanders Shouldn’t Trade Their 13th Overall Pick
The easiest path for the Islanders to acquire Anderson would be to trade the 13th overall pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft for the forward. While the Islanders could move the pick for a proven veteran, that move might backfire, especially since they need to refuel their farm system, which is one of the worst in the league. The trade would notably benefit the Canadiens who not only are looking to rebuild but would suddenly have three first-round draft picks to accelerate the process.
It would be one thing for the Islanders to acquire an elite talent for the 13th overall pick. Even if they had to include a roster player in a deal, it would be worth it to acquire Jakob Chychrun, Patrick Kane, or J.T. Miller. While Anderson isn’t a rental like Kane or Miller, after signing a seven-year deal in 2020, he isn’t of the same caliber either. While the 28-year-old would give the Islanders control over the player, the team should avoid mortgaging the pick.
Instead, the Islanders, in all likelihood, would acquire Anderson in a one-for-one deal. Anthony Beauvillier would fit in with the Canadiens and, at 25 years old, be part of the young core they are rebuilding around. Ideally, Beauvillier remains with the Islanders next season, especially since he is a great skater and puck-handler on the wing. However, after he took a step back last season, failing to find an offensive role, he might benefit from a new setting. Ultimately, the Islanders will look for a different fit for their forward unit, especially if they could acquire Anderson and his skillset.
What Anderson Brings Offensively
The reason the Islanders would pump the brakes on an offer for Anderson is that he’s not a top-line forward. Instead, he can be a solid contributor to the middle six. For the Islanders, acquiring a skater that adds depth certainly is an upgrade, but it wouldn’t put the offense over the top. Similarly, Anderson has only scored 20 goals or more in one season of his eight-year career, and while he does a lot of things well, he’s not going to excel at anything specific. As a result, the Islanders could play him alongside Jean-Gabriel Pageau on the middle forward line and expect a strong contribution, but he would be a depth addition.
It’s possible that the Islanders would make a move for Anderson in addition to other moves. Signing a player like Johnny Gaudreau would put the forward unit over the top in becoming an offensive juggernaut. However, the move for Anderson wouldn’t be a splash, especially considering his ceiling or lack thereof.
What Anderson Rumors Imply for the Islanders
It’s the time of year when speculation is at its highest. An Anderson trade ahead of the draft is no exception. However, the rumors also hint toward a few things about the offseason ahead for Lamoriello.
For starters, the trade market for Anderson is limited, but the Islanders have the pieces to acquire him. Additionally, the 13th overall selection might be a reasonable price for the veteran forward, but it also carries significant value in the upcoming draft, especially for the Islanders who could refuel their prospect pool with the pick.
The Islanders being linked to Anderson also hints at a larger offseason for the team. Yes, he would be a big move but not one that would allow the team to bounce back next season in Lane Lambert’s first year as head coach. Rather, acquiring the veteran forward would be one of the many moves that would be made in a busy offseason and allow the Islanders to possibly make another move afterward. Moreover, if Lamoriello is going to make a move for him, it wouldn’t be for a draft selection or a prospect but instead, it would ideally be a one-for-one type of deal allowing two players to thrive in different settings.
Mike Fink joined The Hockey Writers in November 2020 and covers the New York Islanders. In addition to covering the Islanders, Fink writes about the NHL at large and contributes as a weekly guest to The Hockey Writers Podcast. Follow Mike on Twitter @Finks_thoughts for more Islanders and general hockey insights.