While the New York Islanders have already made a big splash in the trade deadline market by acquiring the highly coveted Bo Horvat, they may not be done there. The question remains on how much of the team’s future general manager Lou Lamoriello is willing to sacrifice to go all in this season. Acquiring Horvat has helped solidify the Islanders’ top six; however, with Oliver Walhstrom reportedly done for the season, the team will be looking to add a top-six winger to their forward group.
Vladimir Tarasenko and his time with the St. Louis Blues appears to be ending as his name is swirling around the trade rumour mill of late. Tarasenko has been previously linked to the Islanders, and even after acquiring Horvat, they still possess the assets that may be required to land the Russian winger. A six-time 30-goal scorer, the sniper would slot in nicely on a new-look top line with Horvat and Mathew Barzal. With $11.381 million in deadline cap space per CapFriendly, the Islanders have the cap space required to land Tarasenko.
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Tarasenko has also reportedly listed the Islanders as one of the teams he’d be willing to move his no-movement clause to be traded to (from ‘Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko requests a trade, per sources: Why he wants out, possible destinations, more,’ The Athletic, July 7, 2021). However, the return the Blues seek for Tarasenko will be tough to swallow for Lamoriello and the Islanders. Following the Horvat trade, the Islanders are without a first-round draft pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. They are also presumably giving the Arizona Coyotes their 2023 third-round pick, providing that Andrew Ladd doesn’t suit up for the Coyotes from now until the end of the season.
While keeping this in mind, the Islanders would likely need to part with their 2024 first-round pick or their 2023 second-round pick and risk not drafting until the fourth round this summer. Sweetening the package with a promising prospect or two could entice the Blues to take Josh Bailey’s $5 million contract off the books for the Islanders next season. A potential trade for Tarasenko would be the 2024 first-round pick, William Dufour, and Bailey. While the price tag of giving up Dufour and yet another first-rounder would be steep, by getting Bailey’s contract off the books, the Islanders would have the cap room to re-sign both Horvat and Tarasenko past this season.
Related: Islanders’ Lambert in Hot Seat Following Horvat Acquisition
The prospect of having Tarasenko, Horvat and Barzal on the Islanders’ first line and Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Kyle Palmieri on the second line should be enough for Lamoriello to go all in and try to acquire the Russian sniper’s services.
Timo Meier remains a hot commodity in the NHL trade deadline market. The pending restricted free agent (RFA) would command an immense return for any team interested in his services. He would be the best fit for the Islanders due to his RFA status and age. The 26-year-old Meier is five years younger than Tarasenko, which makes giving up the 2024 first-round pick and two promising prospects an easier pill to swallow for the Islanders. That is, of course, under the assumption that Lamoriello and company would be able to lock up Meier long term in an Islanders’ jersey.
Meier has 28 goals and 20 assists for 48 points in 51 games with the cellar-dwelling San Jose Sharks this season. The winger is a power forward with a great scoring touch. His high-volume shot output would be on full display playing alongside Horvat and Barzal. If the Islanders can go all in and land Meier the 31st-ranked power play would also make leaps forward with the presence of the bona fide top-line winger. However, if they can’t land Meier, he may land with another Metropolitan team as the New Jersey Devils look to be heavy buyers at the upcoming trade deadline.
As has been the case all season, superstar winger Patrick Kane continues to have his name tossed around in trade rumours. The three-time Stanley Cup Champion will also be a target for the New York Islanders if they cannot strike a deal with the Blues for Tarasenko. The Chicago Blackhawks star has nine goals and 25 assists for 34 points in 45 games this season. The cost for Kane would be similar to that of Tarasenko, so once again, it comes down to Lamoriello deciding on how much of the Islanders’ future he is willing to sacrifice now.
Kane’s name has also been linked to other Eastern Conference teams, including the New York Rangers, Carolina Hurricanes and the Boston Bruins. While Kane would undoubtedly benefit the Islanders’ offence, they already have an elite playmaker in Barzal. The club would be better suited to target a more natural goal scorer such as the previously mentioned Tarasenko or Meier.
The Future Is Now
By acquiring Horvat, Lamoriello has signaled that the team is all in on this season. While many fans may feel giving up so many future assets will be detrimental to the club’s success in upcoming seasons. They have an absolutely elite goaltender in Ilya Sorokin, who, with a more potent offence, would arguably post even better numbers than he is currently putting up. Adding one of these top three wingers available would be a win for the Islanders now, and provided they can retain their services past this season would be monumental for the franchise that has for so long starved for star-powered offence. Don’t stop at Horvat. One more addition to their top six will turn the Islanders into a legitimate contender rather than the fringe playoff team they currently are.