Columbus Blue Jackets, Lou Lamoriello, Mitch Marner, New York Islanders, Nikolaj Ehlers, Patrik Laine, Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets

Islanders’ Likeliest Time to Make Splashy Move This Offseason

It’s that time of year when plenty of trade speculation articles are out there. From Mitch Marner to Martin Necas or Nikolaj Ehlers, and now Patrik Laine, some stars could be on the move and plenty of teams are getting ready to make a splash this offseason.

Related: 4 Trades the Islanders Must Avoid This Offseason

The New York Islanders are unlikely to target any of the above-mentioned star players. But with general manager (GM) Lou Lamoriello, it can never be counted out. He is unpredictable and operates on a different schedule than most executives do. With this in mind, a big trade can happen at any time from now until the end of the offseason, especially with the notable star players on the trade block.

Nikolaj Ehlers – Draft Night

The last time Lamoriello made a big trade during the draft was in 2022 when the Islanders moved the 13th overall selection to acquire Alexander Romanov. Looking back, the trade benefitted all three teams involved.

Lou Lamoriello New York Islanders
Lou Lamoriello, New York Islanders (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
  • The Islanders added a young, hard-hitting defenseman who became an integral part of the unit.
  • The Montreal Canadiens acquired Kirby Dach to strengthen the top six from the center position.
  • The Chicago Blackhawks selected Frank Nazar with the 13th pick, adding a top prospect to a rebuilding roster.

If the Islanders make that type of trade again, it will likely happen for Ehlers, who the Winnipeg Jets are looking to move. He’s a free agent after the 2024-25 season and has an injury history, diminishing his value. That said, as a dynamic scorer, with a great shot, he’s a player the Islanders in particular would love to add to their top-six and possibly the top line. A line that has Ehlers on one wing, Mathew Barzal on the other, and Bo Horvat centering it is one that many teams around the league would have difficulty stopping.

Ehlers moving on draft night would allow the Islanders to use a few of their draft selections to make the deal work. They have three draft picks in the first two rounds and while the best path forward would be to use those picks to strengthen the prospect pool, Lamoriello could use the picks to add a player to help them win now. Ehlers would provide that immediate jolt and if he gets moved, the most likely time for Lamoriello to get him is during the draft (and a move like that could send the Sphere into a frenzy).

Patrik Laine – Early Free Agency

The recent news around the league is that Laine is looking to start from scratch and revive his career with a new team. He was once one of the top forwards in the NHL and at 26 years old, the elite play is still in him. Unfortunately, everything went wrong during his tenure with the Columbus Blue Jackets, from injuries to setbacks to the roster around him falling apart to him taking a leave of absence halfway through the past season. A restart is needed and plenty of teams will look to give him one.

Laine on the trade block has many teams preparing to make an offer while also wondering whether he’s worth the risk. The draft is fast approaching, making it too early for a big trade to happen beforehand but by the time free agency begins, expect a handful of teams to have the assets ready to acquire him.

The Islanders will be in the mix to add him. While he’s struggled in recent seasons, Laine is a versatile winger who can both create scoring chances and find the back of the net himself. The Islanders might have to move a prospect to land him but considering what he can do alongside Horvat or Brock Nelson, he would take the offense to another level.

Mitch Marner – Late Offseason

The Toronto Maple Leafs made it clear that they are willing to make some big changes this offseason. They replaced head coaches and have a new staff in place which includes former Islanders head coach, Lane Lambert. Marner has a no-movement clause but with his contract expiring after the 2024-25 season, he may waive it to both join another team and sign a long-term extension.

Aside from Jake Guentzel (and the off-chance that Leon Draisaitl enters trade talks), Marner will be the most sought-after star this summer. He’s not the scorer the Islanders, specifically Lamoriello, desire but he’s a passer who can create scoring chances for Horvat, Nelson, and Kyle Palmieri. Moreover, Marner is an All-Star caliber forward who can instantly transform any offense into an elite one, and the Islanders, who haven’t scored over 3.00 goals per game in a season since 2017-18, are searching for that type of player.

If Marner is traded, it will likely happen after the first wave of free agency signings and he’s the last elite player still available. This will give the Maple Leafs all the leverage since the teams clamoring for a star will only have one to choose from. With Lamoriello, he’ll likely put an offer in for Marner and won’t budge from it but if he’s still available late in the summer, swoop in and add the star in a blockbuster trade, one where the Islanders give up three big pieces in a deal that helps them win now.

The Most Likely Lamoriello Trade Target Timeframe

Lamoriello operates on a different schedule and it makes a move from the long-time GM unpredictable. He acquired Horvat during the 2023 All-Star Break, weeks before anyone thought he would be moved, and throughout his tenure, he’s made a splash when it’s least expected.

This offseason will be no different. It makes the late-summer window a prime opportunity for Lamoriello to strike and add an elite player to the roster. Just as all the big moves have subsided and everyone is ready to head to the beaches or lakes and turn off the laptops, Lamoriello makes a big trade that has everyone clamoring to see how he pulled it off.

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