Islanders Can Look to Jets to Make a Move

The New York Islanders are hoping to make a splash with one big signing to help the team rebound from last season and put them over the top for 2022-23. General manager (GM) Lou Lamoriello has been linked to Nazem Kadri, but, as the experienced executive has proven, he can make unpredictable moves to drastically improve his team.

Related: Islanders & Canucks Can Be Ideal Trade Partners

Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Jets will enter the season hoping to compete in the Western Conference, but a lot is stacked against them. They missed the playoffs last season in a competitive Central Division and enter the upcoming season with a lot of question marks, notably their forward depth. However, they could be ideal trade partners for the Islanders, and the two teams could make a handful of moves that would benefit both rosters.

Jets Can Take On a Contract

The Islanders are eyeing Kadri and are hoping to add the star center before the season starts. If they sign him, it will likely be a seven-year deal worth $6 million or more per season. Along with pending deals for defensemen Noah Dobson and Alexander Romanov, both restricted free agents, the team will have to open up salary cap space.

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The two players most likely to be traded are forwards Anthony Beauvillier and Josh Bailey. Both have been significant to the Islanders’ success in recent years, but last season, they struggled and might thrive in a new setting. The question is, what team would be willing to add either player and their contract in the process?

Anthony Beauvillier New York Islanders
Anthony Beauvillier, New York Islanders (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Jets are one of the few teams that have cap space, but more importantly, they have a roster suited for both players. Bailey, at 32 years old, might be on the decline and seen as an offensive liability, but as a puck distributor, he is a valuable middle-six forward to add to a roster. Meanwhile, Beauvillier, at 25 years old, still has room to improve and has shown flashes, especially as a skater and puck handler, making him a viable option for a rebuilding or retooling team.

The Jets, in particular, need to add forwards with only 10 NHL skaters on their roster so far. Granted, they can bring up prospects from the American Hockey League (AHL) to start the season but adding a proven skater would help the team for the foreseeable future. The Jets taking on a contract while the Islanders move on from one would be a win-win deal and is arguably the most direct one this offseason.

Islanders Can Acquire Dillon

The Islanders addressed the need for a left-side defenseman early on in the offseason when they acquired Romanov from the Montreal Canadiens during the NHL Entry Draft. Romanov will add youth to the unit, but he’s also a strong skater who will keep up with opposing forwards, something the team struggled with last season.

However, they still need another left-side defenseman, particularly to pair with veteran Scott Mayfield. While the Islanders can call up Robin Salo or Sebastian Aho from the AHL, the ideal pairing for Mayfield is another experienced defenseman. Brenden Dillon has been a journeyman but is a valuable skater on the blue line with great disciplined play. Dillon would round out the unit and provide the Islanders with three remarkable pairings to improve the defense to become one of the best in the Eastern Conference.

Brenden Dillon Winnipeg Jets
Brenden Dillon, Winnipeg Jets (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The move would likely signal a rebuild for the Jets as they would be parting with one of their best defensive players. However, the team already has three left-side defensemen without Dillon, including Logan Stanley, Joshua Morrissey, and Dylan Samberg. Moreover, with the team hoping to add Ville Heinola, one of their top defensive prospects, Dillon becomes more expendable, and the Islanders could add him for next season.

Lamoriello Making a Splash

It will be considered a disappointment if the Islanders fail to sign Kadri, to say the least. They already missed out on Johnny Gaudreau, who signed a seven-year deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets and would suddenly enter the season feeling empty-handed despite an offseason that was filled with promise, and Lamoriello would be in the hot seat. However, he can still make a splash by acquiring a star player through a trade.

To make a blockbuster deal with the Jets, he’d have to hope that GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is willing to rebuild. If that’s the case, the Islanders could try to acquire Kyle Connor or Nikolaj Ehlers. Granted, both players are locked into long-term deals and entering their prime years, making them optimal players to build around in a rebuild, especially Connor, who is one of the best forwards in the league. Additionally, Ehlers has a modified no-movement clause, allowing him to submit a 10-team no-trade list. They are two of the Jets’ best players and would take a massive offer to sway the front office.

Kyle Connor Winnipeg Jets
Kyle Connor, Winnipeg Jets (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The question is what the Jets’ are asking for Connor or Ehlers. My guess would be three pieces; specifically, the Islanders would have to give up valuable players and prospects to acquire either one. Beauvillier could be one of those pieces, along with Aatu Raty or William Dufour, depending on the player they acquire. Raty is understandably considered untouchable at the moment, as he has star potential, but it might be worthwhile for the Islanders to move him to add an elite player like Connor to a win-now roster.

Other Moves the Islanders & Jets Can Make

A one-for-one deal could see the Islanders and Jets flip two players to, hopefully, improve their rosters. A Bailey for Dillon move would help out both teams, and similarly, a Beauvillier for Stanley move could be beneficial. The Islanders could also pursue Pierre-Luc Dubois, who accepted a one-year qualifying offer but will likely test free agency when his contract expires, making him a rental for any team looking to acquire him.

The Islanders are hoping to bounce back after missing the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs to compete for the Stanley Cup in 2022-23. The team still has a lot of work to do this offseason, and hopefully, Lamoriello can find a trade partner in the upcoming weeks, and the Jets would be an ideal candidate.

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