NHL Rumor Mill – August 19, 2022
WHAT WILL THE ISLES & AVS DO AFTER LOSING OUT ON KADRI?
NEW YORK POST: Ethan Sears reports the Islanders are left with a lot of maybes after Nazem Kadri signed with the Calgary Flames yesterday. Media gossip linked the 31-year-old former Colorado Avalanche center to the Islanders but general manager Lou Lamoriello had been silent about the rumors and his efforts to bolster his club’s offense.
“Maybe things will turn around with the roster as is and a season unimpeded by the long road trip and COVID-19 outbreak that affected the Islanders at the start of last season,” writes Sears. “Maybe Anthony Beauvillier or Oliver Wahlstrom will take the next step forward. Maybe new head coach Lane Lambert will unlock something (former coach Barry Trotz) couldn’t in this team.”.
Sears believes Sonny Milano is the most viable free agent that the Islanders could add but he’d probably end up on their third line. There are no obvious trade candidates at this time that Lamoriello could target.
THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz noted Lamoriello and Lambert have spoken about their belief in the Islanders’ core. However, it was apparent last season that they were going to need a few pieces if they intend to contend this season. Signing someone like Sonny Milano won’t make anyone change their view of the Isles’ lineup the way Kadri would have.
NYI HOCKEY NOW: Stefen Rosner wonders if Lamoriello will revisit his interest in J.T. Miller. The Isles GM was reportedly interested in the 29-year-old Vancouver Canucks center during the 2022 NHL Draft last month. Free agent winger Phil Kessel could be a temporary, last resort option as he does provide offense.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think there was a lack of effort on Lamoriello’s part to bolster his scoring. He was rumored to be pursuing Kadri and apparently attempted to sign Johnny Gaudreau last month before he accept a deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Lamoriello reportedly attempted to acquire Miller before the first round of the draft but for whatever reason, the deal fell through. He could try again but I don’t think the Canucks are keen to move the versatile two-way forward until perhaps close to the 2023 trade deadline if they’re out of playoff contention by then. At that point, the Isles will face plenty of competition for his services, driving up the asking price beyond Lamoriello’s comfort zone.
The bottom line here is Lamoriello struck out in the trade and free agent markets. Kessel or Milano would be affordable short-term options but won’t move the dial much offensively for the Islanders.
I think the Islanders still have a good team. They’ve got a strong goalie tandem in Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov plus what looks like a solid top-four defense in Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech, Noah Dobson and Alexander Romanov. Mathew Barzal, Brock Nelson and Anders Lee are proven scoring talents, while Beauvillier and Wahlstrom could step up this season.
Nevertheless, the offense remains an area of concern, one that Lamoriello will have to address at some point this season if the Isles are to be more than a playoff contender.
THE DENVER POST: Sean Keeler reports Nazem Kadri’s departure to Calgary leaves a big gap at their second-line center position that could prove difficult to fill.
Pickings are slim in the free-agent market. They include 36 -year-old former Avalanche center Paul Stastny. They might have to look to within and see if J.T. Compher or Alex Newhook can fill that role.
WHERE COULD SUBBAN LAND VIA FREE AGENCY?
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Mike Stephens recently listed the Seattle Kraken, Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres as three possible destinations for P.K. Subban. The 33-year-old defenseman could be an affordable short-term addition for clubs in need of an experienced, puck-moving right-shot blueliner.
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sheng Peng examines the pros and cons of whether Subban would be a good fit with the Sharks. While he’s no longer an effective top-four rearguard, he could have a role on the third pairing and would provide them with a right-handed shot from the point.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Subban had a decent performance last season with the New Jersey Devils. He should end up with an NHL club on an affordable one-year deal before training camps open in mid-September.