When the dust settled on Monday’s NHL trade deadline, the New York Islanders had gotten all their business ahead of time, so the day’s headlines went to their rivals.
Sunday night after the Islanders’ overtime win over the Rangers, they announced the strictly depth acquisition of defenseman Braydon Coburn. At Monday afternoon’s presser (video below), Lou Lamoriello touched on that and his acquisition of Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac five days prior. Safe to say, he was already “comfortable” with what he’d done prior to Monday.
But his earlier moves provide an interesting wrinkle for the Eastern Division playoff race, in the context of the primary moves by the Boston Bruins (Taylor Hall), Washington Capitals (Anthony Mantha) and Pittsburgh Penguins (Jeff Carter): Those players will go through various travel and protocol transitions, while the Islanders have already gotten the awkward transition over with. Both ex-Devils have already played three games in their new uniforms and will have the next couple of days of valuable practice team to further integrate.
Here’s a closer look at what the chief rivals and also-rans were up to:
Bruins: Land Hall, add Lazar, Reilly too
So the Taylor Hall sweepstakes came to an end, without a whole lot changing hands, possibly a consequence of Hall being able to control his destination (if not his productivity) thanks to the no-trade clause that the Sabres gave him to lure him to Buffalo. The Bruins also got Curtis Lazar in the deal.
The cost: Just Anders Bjork and a second-round pick. And the Sabres even retain half of Hall’s cap hit (though that isn’t much, given that the season’s almost over and his deal is expiring).
The Bruins also added Mike Reilly from the Senators for a 2022 third-round pick.
Capitals: Spend Big for Mantha
The Capitals made what’s probably considered the deadline’s “shock” move, in that not many pegged the Red Wings to be moving Anthony Mantha, and the Capitals gave up two real NHLers plus picks to get him.
The cost: Jakub Vrana, whose time was perhaps expired given his poor fit under Peter Laviolette, and Richard Panik, who’s just okay — but also their first-round pick this year and their second-round pick next year. That’s not nothing.
The Capitals also added Michael Raffl from the Flyers for a fifth-round pick, and shed a body by sending little-used defenseman Jonas SIegenthaler to the Devils.
Penguins Go for it with Carter
The Penguins made a splash but somewhat telling move, adding Jeff Carter who is...he’s not your older brother’s Jeff Carter. He can still contribute though, the Kings retained half his remaining salary (which doesn’t expire until after next season), and it only cost the Penguins conditional third- and fourth-round picks.
In typical blustery style, Brian Burke was all, “Yeah, of course he wanted to come here, we’re the Pittsburgh Penguins,” which of course shows a very selective reading of the franchise’s boom-and-bust history. But the Pens have impressed this season, continuing to nip at the Capitals and Islanders’ heels in the standings and playing the Islanders quite well.
Even if their core is aging, they are in position — and have the directive from ownership — to keep going for it until everybody declines and the next Penguins Tank moment arrives.
Everything Must Go
Also receiving votes: The Flyers threw in the towel, recognizing that they just don’t have it this year. In addition to moving Raffl for a 5th, they sent Erik Gustafsson to the Canadiens for a seventh-round pick. Not big value, but sometimes those late scratch-offs become Anders Lee so might as well collect them when you can.
The Sabres’ big sale was Hall and Lazar, though they earlier escorted Eric Staal (Montreal) and Brandon Montour (Florida) into happier places.
The Devils, in addition to the previously referenced moves, found a home for Dmitri Kulikov, sent to Edmonton for a conditional fourth-rounder in 2022.
The Rangers, meanwhile, despite their vaunted cap space, did nothing. Literally, nothing. I mean, they “took some calls, made some calls,” but found nothing to their liking short- or long-term. They have more prospects coming in soon, and are doing well enough now to make a push (if the Bruins falter) without going all in, so there you have it.
Lou on His Moves
Hear from President and General Manager, Lou Lamoriello, as he addresses the media. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/DCBTVM1gwx— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) April 12, 2021
Coburn is well past his prime but was brought in for the cheap price, “veteran experience, size” and all that, plus “he knows his role and accepts it,” Lamoriello said.
Of probably equally weighted interest to fans, Lamoriello said Anatoli Golyshev is still in the process of coming over but is expected in Bridgeport this season, and Robin Salo also will come over once his playoffs are over.
Remember that with the pandemic delay, the NHL regular season (and playoffs) will go much later in the calendar than normal. While it’s unlikely that either of those Europeans appear in the Islanders lineup in 2020-21, they’ll at least have a good chance at the Ilya Sorokin “bubble” orientation treatment.
So there you have it. In other divisions, Florida and Colorado continued to add to their contention bids, and Toronto added 73 players because everyone owes the Leafs a solid. But we’ll worry about the other divisions once, and if, the Islanders make it out of a four-way Eastern brawl.