The New York Islanders are having a great season, with a 15-8-0 record, which is second-best in the Metropolitan Division. They are on pace to end the season with one of the best records in the Eastern Conference and set themselves up to compete for the Stanley Cup. Moreover, the Islanders have looked like a complete team in all facets of the game, averaging 3.35 goals per game and allowing only 2.57.
However, if the Islanders want to contend for the Stanley Cup, they might look to make a move before the trade deadline. Granted, general manager (GM) Lou Lamoriello’s recent reputation with the Islanders has been to hold back on big moves or aggressively attempt to acquire players. He didn’t make any moves at the trade deadline last season despite the team being out of playoff position and ultimately missing the playoffs. Furthermore, he didn’t make any major signings in the offseason, signaling confidence in his roster. Yet, if the opportunity presents itself, he should make the splash needed to put the Islanders over the top.
The Anaheim Ducks are having a season to forget with a 6-15-1 record, the worst in the Western Conference. They have been roasted all season and will likely be sellers at the deadline to help out a rebuild to help their young core. For the Islanders, the Ducks have a lot of veteran players who could add to the team’s depth for a Stanley Cup run.
Adam Henrique played his first eight seasons in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, helping them reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2012. While he’s spent the last six years with the Ducks, he might want to return to the New York area to finish his career with a Cup-contending team. Henrique is one of the few bright spots on the Ducks’ offense this season, scoring seven goals and five assists. In addition, at 32 years old, he’s proved that he can still add a spark to any forward unit and help propel a team in a deep playoff run.
He has a modified no-movement clause and could veto a move to the Islanders. However, if he wants to join a contender, Lamoriello would eagerly add him to the roster, especially since Henrique isn’t a rental acquisition with two years remaining on his five-year contract. Henrique would be a versatile forward in the middle six who can play on the wing or at center if needed to ensure that the Islanders have depth in their offense.
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The Islanders would likely have to offer one of their prospects to acquire Henrique, and Simon Holmstrom, who has played a handful of games at the NHL level this season, might be worth considering. He isn’t one of the top prospects in the organization, but he would be a reliable contributor for the Ducks, as he can complement a young group of star players like Trevor Zegras and Mason McTavish.
Among the Ducks players most likely to be traded this season is Frank Vatrano. He has three years left on his contract, but would particularly give the Ducks a strong return in a trade as a proven player who can give a contending team an edge. Last season, Vatrano was traded to the New York Rangers where he played a pivotal role in helping them reach the Eastern Conference Final, scoring five goals and eight assists in 20 games.
The Islanders would eagerly add him to their offense, even if the asking price is a prospect and a possible draft pick. Vatrano would add a scoring presence to a forward unit that already has more than enough depth and set them up for a deep playoff run.
While the Islanders don’t need help on the left wing or another pure goal scorer, something he’s been throughout his career, they can move him around to find an ideal fit. Vatrano can play alongside multiple centers, to find the one that best suits his scoring ability, especially if the team has to deal with injuries. Kyle Palmieri has recently been out of the lineup with an upper-body injury the offense feels his absence but adding a veteran like Vatrano would help fill that void.
The Ducks signed defenseman John Klingberg to a one-year deal this offseason with the hope that he’d help out the defense on a team ready to contend in the Pacific Division. Now, 22 games into the 2022-23 season, the defense is one of the worst in the league, averaging 4.22 goals against per game, and the team is in last place in the division. Needless to say, the Klingberg addition hasn’t worked out, and the team will look to move him at the trade deadline to avoid losing him in free agency.
The Islanders don’t need help on defense per se. With six reliable contributors and an elite top pairing in Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock, the blue line has helped fuel a strong start to the season. However, as a two-way player who can play on the second or third pairing, Klingberg would be a boost for a Cup run. Furthermore, he is a nine-year NHL veteran who helped the Dallas Stars make plenty of deep playoff runs, including a Cup Final appearance in 2020. If Lamoriello considers his team a defenseman away from a title halfway through the season, expect him to make a big move to address a need at the position.
Other Ducks the Islanders Can Acquire
The Ducks are one of the worst teams in the league with very little meat on their bones. However, despite the limited options, the Islanders could acquire defenseman Dmitry Kulikov with the same mindset as a Klingberg addition. Kulikov would add depth to the defense and can play on the left side where the Islanders might have a need.
The Islanders will want to add that final piece in hopes of making a run at the Stanley Cup. While teams like the Ducks might not appear to be ideal trade partners, they have a handful of skaters who can add depth to a roster that is looking to contend.
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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.