It took a bit of time for general manager Lou Lamoriello to make a move after his trade for Matt Martin right after being named general manager in 2019, but since then, he has been one the best in the entire NHL. Lamoriello was awarded the Jim Gregory General Manager Award in 2020 as he led the Islanders to the first of two consecutive Conference Finals. He was named a finalist again in 2021 as he is up against Marc Bergevin of the Montreal Canadiens and Bill Zito of the Florida Panthers. Let’s take a look at why he is once again a front runner for the award.
It started right after the Islanders were eliminated from the bubble in Edmonton as Lamoriello had very little money to work with. He had three impressing restricted free agents in Mat Barzal, Ryan Pulock, and Devon Toews. Lamoriello managed to bring back both Barzal and Pulock and acquire a pair of second-round picks in a Toews’ trade to the Colorado Avalanche. Fortunately, the Islanders had plenty of depth on defense as former first-round pick Noah Dobson was ready for a full-time role. Lamoriello also re-signed Andy Greene, who has become a great defensive partner for Dobson.
The former Stanley Cup champion also made some depth moves and brought in Dmytro Timashov, Austin Czarnik, and veteran goaltender Cory Schneider after getting Ilya Sorokin to come over from the KHL. The only players he let go other than Toews were backup goaltender Thomas Greiss and veteran Derick Brassard. To replace them, New York let their young prospects get a chance as Kieffer Bellows and Oliver Wahlstrom each contributed throughout the season as former first-round picks.
Mid Season Acquisitions
Several big-name players seemed to be available at the trade deadline. Lamoriello made a deal for a pair of former players in Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac. It was the second straight season New York dealt a first-round pick as they also traded a pair of AHL players. Both quickly entered the Islanders lineup. While neither of them produced much in the regular season, they both have been excellent in the postseason.
Palmieri, who was born in Smithtown on Long Island, recorded an overtime goal in their first postseason game. He has since scored six goals and has nine points. For Zajac, he started as a healthy scratch in the playoffs and replaced Wahlstrom, who left the first round with an injury. Lamoriello also made a depth move and brought in former Stanley Cup Champion in Braydon Coburn. While the veteran defenseman has yet to play in the postseason, he filled in for a few games during the regular season and provided even more depth to a team that already had Thomas Hickey and Sebastian Aho as extra defensemen.
Lamoriello’s greatest move since he came was hiring head coach Barry Trotz. Each year, the hire gets even better as Trotz is climbing the rankings as one of the greatest coaches in NHL history. It won’t be easy, though, for Lamoriello to win the award as Bergevin helped lead the Canadiens to the conference finals after just sneaking into the postseason. In his first season, Zito has acquired several notable players in Anthony Duclair, Carter Verhaeghe, Alex Wennberg, and Patrick Hornquist. However, the Panthers were once again eliminated in the first round of the playoffs following their loss to the Lightning.
Hopefully, for the Islanders, they can continue to win and help pad Lamoreillo’s resume with a fourth Stanley Cup. Another award would be nice, but he and the Islanders would undoubtedly take a championship for the first time since 1983.