The Islanders’ signings from Wednesday helped give a better idea of what the team will look like this season. There are more certainties regarding the roster and the team’s current remaining cap space. Although there is more clarity about the team, there are still a number of questions surrounding the Islanders this offseason. Most of these regard the Islanders’ further offseason plans and how new players will fit in with the team.
Are the Islanders Out on Tarasenko?
The Islanders have been one of the reported teams in trade talks with the Blues regarding Vladimir Tarasenko. Many believed the team’s complete silence throughout free agency was a subset of these trade talks. However, the signings being announced now paint a much more unclear picture about the team’s involvement with Tarasenko. For one, they have almost no extra cap space left to take on Tarasenko’s $7 million cap hit. They would either have to give up Josh Bailey or somehow trade Leo Komarov’s undesirable contract to make the money work.
There is also the question of if the team is even interested in him anymore. With Palmieri officially signing the Islanders have four starting caliber right wings under contract. And with the Islanders still needing a replacement for Nick Leddy, it’s hard to believe they’re going to spend extra money at a filled position. While a trade for Tarasenko is still very possible, it seems a lot less likely with the announced signings.
Who’s Going to Replace Nick Leddy?
As previously mentioned, the Islanders still need a left defenseman to replace Nick Leddy. But with limited cap space and limited options available, it is a mystery as to who that replacement is. There are some internal options (like Samuel Bolduc), but it seems like the Islanders aren’t interested in utilizing an inexperienced player. According to Arthur Staple, the Islanders are seeking an established defenseman to fill that role for the upcoming season. That gives some clarity as to the kind of player the Islanders are looking for, but gives no clarity as to who.
Zdeno Chara is the best free agency option left, but plays a very different style of game than Leddy. That opens up an entirely different question of whether the Islanders are seeking another two-way defenseman, or are fine with a more defensive defenseman. Leddy’s replacement is one of the biggest remaining mysteries of this offseason. And given Lamiorello’s pattern of being very quiet this offseason, it’s unlikely anyone will have an idea as to who that player is until he is officially acquired. But the confirmation that it will most likely be an outside acquisition is something to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.
Can Palmieri and Parise Return to Form?
Kyle Palmieri and Zach Parise are two of the most significant Islander signings of this offseason. Palmieri just came off a second-half stint with the team that included seven goals throughout the postseason. And in Parise, the Islanders are acquiring a tremendous goal-scoring talent to pair with J.G. Pageau on the third line. Despite the excitement surrounding these two players, they share a somewhat concerning drop-off in production. Both players scored 25 goals and over 40 overall points in the pandemic shortened season. In this previous season, neither scored over 10 goals and barely got over 20 total points.
In signing these two players, the Islanders are gambling that they’ll return somewhat close to normal. For Palmieri that gamble already started to pay off with his postseason production. The familiarity with the team and a potential first-line upgrade make him a prime candidate for a bounce-back season. As for Parise, a regular starting role on the third line should help improve upon his previous seven goals. He figures to be in the double digits in terms of goals, but maybe not a routine 20+ goal scorer as he once was.
Featured image courtesy of NHL
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