The team-specific question in this week’s FanPulse survey was, I imagine, an easily answered and uncontroversial one for New York Islanders fans: Should your team be buyers or sellers? (If you want to be part of future surveys, sign up here.)
This is a topic that comes up daily in comments at Lighthouse Hockey, but for the 2019-20 Isles it’s surely not a question of “should they?” but rather “by how much?”
Not only are the Islanders on a playoff contending — albeit not “favorite” — trajectory, they also have a roster that is constructed for the here and now. Brock Nelson, Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle are on recently signed long-term contracts. They have plenty of veterans and core pieces that complement the young players who are already entrenched in primary roles on defense (Ryan Pulock, Scott Mayfield, Devon Toews) and offense (Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier).
Though they shouldn’t add “just to add,” they are unquestionably and rightly on the hunt as the trade deadline approaches, rather than in a position to sell. Last night on the MSG pregame, Brian Compton of nhl.com suggested the Islanders room covets an external infusion — that last year, standing pat was a matter of pride and demonstration that management believed in this group, whereas this year an addition would show that they believe this group can go even further.
That was, of course, before Kieffer Bellows scored the first two goals of his two-game NHL career to key the win. Some of the discussion has been how to improve the forward corps when there aren’t really snipers on the market, versus whether a recall from Bridgeport could do that.
It’s too early to know whether Bellows will have a lasting effect on the previously underperforming third line, but you know the possibility will enter Lou Lamoriello’s thinking as he approaches the deadline. The speculative rumblings about what Lou would do range from adding a random veteran defenseman (Cody Ceci is off the table, thankfully for Isles fans) to highly sought but probably unrealistic forwards like Jean-Gabrieal Pageau or crease crasher Chris Kreider of the cross-town Smurfs.
What Would You Do? How Much Will You Risk?
So that’s the question(s) for you, dear reader: Given the state of the roster now, on Feb. 7, what is your biggest priority to add at the deadline? And how much (future firsts, pet prospects, etc.) are you willing to trade away to get it?