The subpar starts of Zdeno Chara and Andy Greene may have the Islanders seeking an upgrade at the left defense position. With the lack of quality in-house options, the only way the Islanders will get an upgrade is via trade. Although the season is still young, a number of left defensemen are rumored to be available on the trade market. Here are three of those defensemen the Islanders could trade for to upgrade their top four.
Lou Lamiorello has had a strong habit of turning towards players he’s worked with in the past to help in the present. Leo Komarov, Kyle Palmieri, Andy Greene and Zach Parise are just a few examples of that trend. This trend could continue if the Islanders are seeking depth at left defense with Toronto Maple Leafs defender Travis Dermott. He was selected by Lamiorello in the second round of the 2015 draft when he was the GM in Toronto. According to Arthur Staple, Dermott could be a quick fix for the Islanders defensive unit and slot in on the Islanders’ second pairing.
As a talent, Dermott has a lot to offer for the Islanders. He’s infinitely more mobile than Chara or Greene and plays with a level of physicality that’ll bode him well in the Islanders system. Dermott also fills the hole left by Nick Leddy as a puck-moving defenseman, although he’s not as big as a point producer. And with him being only 24, he could be a long-term Islander if it works out well. The question will be if Trotz would want to place an under 25 player in a big role instead of Greene/Chara. But while he’s still definitely developing as a player, he offers a lot of potential for a very low price and the luxury of being immediately available.
The Colorado Avalanche have an embarrassment of riches at left defense, which has allowed them to make Samuel Girard available for trade. Girard is only 23 years old and has played a significant role on the Avalanche’s defense already. He’s a really talented puck mover for a defenseman, getting 30 and 27 assists in the last two seasons. Girard also plays a smart defensive game with his stick and is very disciplined.
With all those pros, there are some cons about trading for him. For one, he’s undersized as a defenseman which limits his physical capabilities. Also, with the Avalanche not needing to trade him, the asking price will be a lot higher than Dermott’s. The Islanders would also have to commit $5 million per year for Girard until 2027. If the Islanders are looking for somebody to replicate Nick Leddy’s game, then they should look no further than Girard. Unlike Dermott, Girard is a lot more proven (albeit younger) and has the capability to replicate Leddy’s point production. And although the cost will be high, they’ll have three of their six defensemen under contract over the next six years.
Hampus Lindholm presents the rental option for the Islanders. In the last year of his contract with the rebuilding Anaheim Ducks, they may seek to get a return on him before entering free agency. Of the other options mentioned, Lindholm is easily the most experienced and talented. He plays first-line defense for the Ducks and has an excellent two-way game. He moves the puck very well and even has some goal-scoring pop, getting 13 in 2018. And unlike Dermott and Girard who are still young, Lindholm is 27 and has played eight seasons in the NHL.
Of course, Lindholm won’t come cheap since the Ducks have no obligation to trade him. And even if the Islanders do acquire him, it will likely be just a season-long rental. But Lindholm offers the most surefire upgrade to the Islanders’ top four in a season where they’re seeking to make the Stanley Cup Finals.
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