The New York Islanders are slated for locker “clean out” day today, when they tear down, and usually there is player media availability — even with injured players, who under Lou Lamoriello’s regime are considered unpersons, media-wise, until the season is over.
So maybe today we’ll finally have proof of life for Oliver Wahlstrom!
We will hear reflections on individual futures, such as Semyon Varlamov, Scott Mayfield...and Zach Parise, we hope your family is up for another season of this, because we kind of your hustle and production at rookie-wage prices.
What I’m most interested in, though I know not to get my hopes up, is how Lamoriello views this season and the roster he constructed. He walked into last offseason with a few objectives, constricted by a crap crunch (of his own making, though worsened by the flat cap), and only achieved one of them in trading a first-round pick for Alex Romanov, who looked like a possible mistake in the first half, and a possible but still jury’s-out win in the second half.
Lamoriello arguably achieved another of those offseason objectives at the trade deadline by acquiring Bo Horvat, again at the cost of a first-round pick and other assets, then signing him to a massive contract on which the Islanders’ future will sink or swim.
This team played the Hurricanes decently at 5-on-5, only to have their knees cut out by the worst power play I can remember being forced to watch for months on end.
During his Islanders tenure, Lamoriello has generally won his trades, but he’s wielded a win-now budget and a win-now approach with a win-yesterday roster building philosophy. I suspended disbelief (or more precisely, deferred Judgment Day) to enjoy the playoff push and first-round exit along with the next fan, but now it’s time to hear how The King of Culture and Clean Shaves plans to improve upon a final-day playoff qualification and first-round exit.
He will surely pay lip service to how it was “disappointing” and they “are always looking to improve” — he’s got that lingo down as well as the next Garth. But with a core that is of win-now age and a difference-making goalie in his prime (though this playoff was far from Ilya Sorokin’s finest run), we’re going to need to see something more than “once you make the playoffs, anything can happen.”
#Isles Mat Barzal: "Sometimes when you're just trying to hold on, it doesn't work well. I think the first two periods we were playing aggressive and the third period we just kind of sat back and clog it up and make it hard. Sometimes when you do that, it can go the other way."— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) April 29, 2023
- Dan and Mike react to the “unnecessarily evil” ending, reflect on who might have had their final hurrah, and debate how trapped the Islanders are. [Islanders Anxiety podcast]
- This was covered in yesterday’s bits, but here’s the Post version of Zach Parise mulling his future. It’s a sacrifice for him with his family back in Minnesota, for sure.
- Speaking of the future, will Lamoriello be back? Will Lane Lambert? (I mean, I don’t think Lou does anything but die on the job or get pushed out...) [Newsday]
- And speaking of those questions, they’re among five key offseason questions. [Newsday]
- Happy Brad Marchand Tears Day to those who celebrate! The Bruins blew a 3-1 series lead, then blew a 3-2 Game 7 lead in the final 90 seconds, losing in overtime to the Panthers. The best “regular season” team (with many, many shootout/3-on-3 OT asterisks) in NHL history has been eliminated at the same time the 2022-23 Islanders were. Hockey is deliciously cruel.
- Meanwhile, in the other Game 7 last night, Jordan Eberle’s Seattle Kraken weathered a first-period storm — or avalanche, amiright? — in Denver to beat Colorado. That’s the first time a franchise won its first playoff series by ousting the defending champions.
- One more Game 7 tonight, as the Devils host the Rangers. The winner will meet the Hurricanes, who are happy to use two goalies in this series. [NHL]
- And the NHL announced that the second round begins Tuesday, including the Panthers heading to Toronto. [NHL]
- Patrice Bergeron is undecided on his future. (Personally, if I had to work with Brad Marchand every day, I’d call it quits.) [NHL | TSN]
- You know how I know the NHL has not seen a real dynasty since 1983? Because teams like the Lightning are forgiven for the “toll” their championship runs have taken. The Islanders dynasty stars played in five Stanley Cup runs and two Canada Cups between 1980-84, and they won four consecutive Cups. Please don’t tell me the Oilers, Penguins, Red Wings, Avalanche or whoever had “dynasties.” They had really impressive championship runs, the end. (“But no salary cap...but only 21 teams.” — yeah, all that’s true. Also: no personal trainers, no personal chefs, no charter jets, and on and on.)