The New York Islanders rode two preseason trades that brought major defensive assets to a surprising playoff berth last season. This year, they wanted to use the offseason to become a more legitimate contender. They are moving to their first season in the Barclay’s Center. They have a brand new fanbase in Brooklyn they want to appease.
Their offseason did not have many big moves. Their biggest move was sending Griffin Reinhart, a former fourth-overall pick, to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for two draft picks. It seemed like the Islanders were sick of waiting for Reinhart to finally break out, and decided it was better if the two went their separate ways. It was a waste of a pick at this point, but if Garth Snow waited any more, he could be worth nothing by the end of the year.
The Isles brought in two free agents of note. One was Thomas Greiss from the Pittsburgh Penguins. He will provide stability behind Jaroslav Halak in case he gets hurt at some point during the season. He was signed to a two-year deal after a relatively disappointing season in Pittsburgh. They also brought in defenseman Thomas Hickey. He is a defensive defenseman, as shown by his seven goals in over 200 NHL games.
They made some low-risk moves by bringing in players like Joe Whitney, Ben Holmstrom, James Wright and Bracken Kearns. These deals will most likely just fill out the AHL roster, but it is an extra bonus if any of them break out.
A move that is falling under the radar is the signing of Louis LeBlanc. He is a former top prospect with the Montreal Canadiens, but could never find the scoring touch he had in juniors. While that happens to hundreds of prospects, this could be different. LeBlanc will now go to a team that has some of the best young talent in the league. The players who go there seem to find their true talent. Snow is hoping the same can happen to LeBlanc.
They were able to sign restricted free agent Anders Lee to a very team-friendly contract. Giving him $3.75 million annually will really help the future of the Islanders.
This was too quiet of an offseason for a team that watched its division get exponentially better. They could have put themselves in true Stanley Cup contention. Instead, they might be on the playoff bubble. It was a weak free agency market and they were arguably smart to stay put, but there were some pretty affordable pieces on the market that could have really helped this team.
There is still time, but this offseason will go down as below average at this time.
Offseason Grade: C-