Islanders’ Lamoriello to Blame for Offseason Failures

The New York Islanders took another punch on the chin this week with the announcement that Nazem Kadri, who had long been connected to the Islanders, was signing a seven-year deal with the Calgary Flames. After losing Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk this offseason, Flames general manager (GM), Brad Treliving appeared hell-bent on righting the wrongs, whether he had control over them or not.

On Long Island, Islanders’ GM Lou Lamoriello had other plans, or so we thought. Instead of owning his mistakes and doing whatever he needed to to get his team back to being Stanley Cup contenders, his inaction alone is to blame for the Islanders’ offseason failures.

Lamoriello Losing Fans with Poor Judgment & Decisions

Reports that the Islanders were in the mix on Johnny Gaudreau and had a “handshake” deal in place with Kadri were a one-two punch in the gut when the verdict on both players was handed down. Not only did Lamoriello swing and miss on the unrestricted free agent (UFA) market, but because of the cap situation he put the team in, he wasn’t able to get players for free, either.

Max Pacioretty (traded to the Carolina Hurricanes from the Vegas Golden Knights) or Sean Monahan (traded to the Montreal Canadiens from the Flames to clear space for Kadri) would have been a significant upgrade to the Islanders’ top-six but were given away for future considerations, and with no cap flexibility, management couldn’t even try to land those players, let alone Kadri.

Some of this goes back to the trade deadline when Lamoriello refused to move players for assets even when teams came calling. Instead, he mentioned “hockey trades” and had some harsh words for his forward group, many of which he decided to keep in the short term only to try and trade them to clear space this summer. So instead of trading players who could have retrieved assets at the deadline like Josh Bailey, Lamoriello waited until the offseason when he needed to attach assets – which he clearly isn’t willing to do – just to be able to move the money. If that’s not the definition of bad judgment, I’m not sure what is. 

You can point to his back-to-back Jim Gregory General Manager of The Year awards, but as some have pointed out, he essentially just hired a future Hall-of-Fame head coach to run a team he had no hand in constructing, outside of a few third-liners, and put a bunch of rules in place. As one fan pointed out, Lamoriello hasn’t done much outside of “trot out Garth Snow’s draft picks with no beards.” Hard to argue with that, even if Noah Dobson can’t grow one yet. 

Related: Islanders’ Lamoriello on the Hot Seat as Post-Trotz Era Begins

Lamoriello has only made one difference-making move so far during his tenure – trading for JG Pageau. Pageau has proven his worth to this team many times over as a key penalty killer, their leading player at the faceoff dot, and his ability to play at both ends of the ice. There’s still time for Kyle Palmieri to get back to his former self, but that depends on a lot of crossed fingers. Other Lamoriello additions, including fellow former New Jersey Devils Travis Zajac, Zach Parise, and Andy Greene, helped the team in the short term but were never going to take the team to the next level. The GM mentioned months ago that he recognized the team was only going to get better through hockey trades, but nothing of the sort has happened outside of trading for the largely unproven Alexander Romanov.

If Lamoriello was in the hot seat before, I’m not sure what to call the position he’s in now. How will ownership react? Do they trust him enough to ignore the last two failed offseasons and the tragic blunders this summer? Even if you take last season with a grain of salt, it was still a bad season, in large part, because Lamoriello didn’t address the team’s offensive issues.

The Islanders were simply eight wins shy – or about one more win per month – from a playoff spot. Maybe that speaks to the team’s ability to bounce back, but they need to do more than that next season; they were a goal short in Game 7 of the 2021 Stanley Cup semifinals. The need for scoring and a real offensive punch has been clear as day for over a year, and the inaction is deafening. It’s possible that this group can step up, but it’s obvious that there’s an offensive hurdle they need to get over if they want to contend again.

That leads us to a host of questions. Is there still time for a trade to take place or a waiver wire pickup as teams clean up their cap situations before the season starts? Could Sonny Milano be a low-key answer? Could a whole season with a healthy roster and bounce-back seasons from their forward group be enough? Will the switch behind the bench from Barry Trotz to Lane Lambert move the needle? Will Semyon Varlamov bounce back after a lackluster season and an injury?

The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz sums up all these questions nicely: “At this point, the new coaching staff, some internal growth, and better overall health seem to be what the Islanders are counting on to keep them in the mix long enough to potentially add someone of value mid-season or before the 2022-23 trade deadline” (from, ‘Islanders’ inability to land Nazem Kadri is their latest offseason failure,’ The Athletic, 8/18/2022).

All of that is possible, but as Ethan Sears of the New York Post wrote, “Those are a lot of maybes for a team that believes itself to be a Stanley Cup contender” (from, Islanders have many maybes after missing out on Nazem Kadri, New York Post, 8/18/2022). Running it back feels like a scary proposition, but at the moment, that’s all we have to go on, even if Kadri wasn’t even necessarily the best move for the team, and the rest of the division didn’t necessarily get better.

There’s no excuse for Lamoriello’s inability to get a team-changing player at this point. We can point to the cap all we want, but he made that bed himself, so if that’s the problem, he is still to blame, plain and simple. 

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