With the New York Islanders on an extended break ahead of the weekend’s All-Star festivities, there was no game action to report on. However, it was still an eventful week for the Isles. They made a huge splash by trading for Bo Horvat on Monday and handing him a long contract extension on Sunday. Not to mention that Brock Nelson, Ilya Sorokin and the newly acquired Horvat all participated in the NHL Skills Competition and All-Star Game over the weekend.
Blockbuster Horvat Trade
In a surprising move, the Islanders and Canucks agreed on a trade centered around Canucks captain Bo Horvat. The Islanders sent Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Raty and a top-12 protected 2023 first-round draft pick to the Canucks in return. In landing Horvat, the Isles acquired the high-volume goal scorer that they’ve desperately been needing. He’s already tied his career total with 31 goals thus far, which ranks eighth in the NHL. In addition, the Islanders agreed to terms on an eight-year extension with Horvat on Sunday. The eight-year extension has an AAV of $8.5 million.
Lou expressed his belief in this roster, and a move like this really doubles down on that belief. The cost of bringing in and extending Horvat was high, but having a quality player like him for the next eight years should prove invaluable to the Islanders. Horvat will give the team some extra firepower as they try and fight for a playoff spot in a crowded field of playoff hopefuls. We’ll see if this is the move that helps save this season of Islanders hockey.
Friday featured the NHL Skills Competition, which Sorokin and Nelson took part in. Sorokin teamed up with his close friend Igor Shesterkin for the new Tendy Tandem event. It would take an entire paragraph to explain how that event worked, so in simplest terms, it involved Sorokin shooting from behind his net to try and hit the other net across the ice. And it became very apparent that shooting is not Sorokin’s forte. He went 0/5 on his shots, so it’s safe to say he’ll never try for an empty netter in actual game action.
Although Sorokin was a very inaccurate shooter, the same can’t be said for Nelson. He participated in the Accuracy Shooting competition, and had quite a successful run. He registered an initial time of 12.156 seconds, good for second amongst the 10 first-round shooters. Next came the faceoff rounds, where the players with the top four times in the opening rounds went head to head to determine the winner. Nelson defeated both Artemi Panarin and Nazem Kadri in this round to win the Accuracy Shooting competition.
This week ended with the NHL All-Star game tournament. Bo Horvat was the first Islander to take the ice, representing the Pacific Division. He was announced as a New York Islander while also wearing the team logo on his Western Conference jersey. In the game, Horvat registered one assist in a 6-4 semifinal loss to the Central Division. His assist went to now-former Canucks teammate Elias Pettersson, the duo playing on a line together one last time before Horvat heads over to Long Island.
In the other semi-final game, we got to see Nelson and Sorokin play for the first time as all-stars. For Nelson, it was a particularly uneventful day at the office. He only got five minutes of ice time playing on a line with Jack Hughes and Andrei Svechnikov. His only impact play was stopping a puck from entering an empty net after Shesterkin left the crease to play the puck.
Sorokin got the start for the second half of a close game between the Metro and the Atlantic. He had a few big saves early on but eventually, the Atlantic got the better of him. He let up five goals total, facing multiple high-quality chances en route to a 10-6 loss. With the Metro and Pacific eliminated, that ended the Islanders’ involvement in the all-star festivities.
The Road Ahead
After a little reprieve from what was a tough month of January for the Islanders, now the real work begins. Management doubled down on trying to contend by bringing in and extending Horvat, but it will not be an easy task. The Penguins and Sabres are currently ahead of them in the standings, with both also having multiple games in hand.
But they’re within striking distance and definitely have a shot if they’re able to recover from their recent struggles. The Isles could also have more reinforcements on the way, with rumors that they may still be looking to add ahead of next month’s deadline. It’s clear that Lou Lamoriello and company are all in on this year, now it’s time to see if the team has what it takes.
Featured image courtesy of Bruce Bennett via Getty Images
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