The New York Islanders are having a season to forget and with four consecutive losses, the team is eagerly waiting for the regular season to come to an end. For the first time in Barry Trotz’s coaching tenure with the Islanders, they will miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs and finish the regular season with plenty of questions about the current roster.
However, the Islanders are confident in their roster and expect the team to rebound from its difficult season. They reached the Stanley Cup Semifinal in consecutive seasons and have been one of the more competitive rosters in recent seasons. The team will be active in the offseason and might look to make a big trade or transaction in hopes of improving the roster and as a result, could trade multiple players once the 2021-22 season ends and the offseason begins.
Anthony Beauvillier is the most likely skater on the Islanders to be traded. The 24-year-old forward had a difficult season and struggled to adapt to the line changes, scoring only 12 goals and adding 21 assists to the offense. He is expected to bounce back next season and contribute to the top two lines. However, many teams will likely be interested in a young forward that has proven he can elevate an offense and the Islanders will likely include him in a blockbuster deal as a result.
Beauvillier is an excellent skater who can help jump-start the offense with his strong puck handling skills. Moreover, in only six seasons in the NHL, he has been part of many clutch goals with an instinct for finding the back of the net, highlighted by his Game 6 overtime goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Teams around the league can build around his skill set but the Islanders have struggled, notably this past season, to find a role for the 24-year-old forward, and trading him might be best for both the team and player.
The Islanders’ goaltending duo has carried the team in the past two seasons. Semyon Varlamov only started 27 games in the net but put together another strong season with a .910 save percentage (SV%) and a 2.94 goals-against average (GAA) on 905 shots. The Islanders will likely keep their 33-year-old goaltender to backup Ilya Sorokin, who has emerged as one of the best young goaltenders in the NHL, providing the team with a strong goaltending duo for next season. However, considering Sorokin is expected to remain the starter, and start over 50 games next year, Lou Lamoriello and the front office will have to consider moving on from their veteran goaltender who is a free agent at the end of next season.
Varlamov can lead any team to a deep Stanley Cup Playoff run, as he did in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Islanders. As a result, he could bring the team a strong return with a deal this offseason. The Islanders would have to find a backup if they moved on from the veteran goaltender but with a move, the front office will have the pieces to make a big acquisition and open up some cap space in the process.
Josh Bailey pivoted in his role on the Islanders’ forward unit this season, becoming a shooter in addition to a puck distributor. Playing alongside Jean-Gabriel Pageau, the 32-year-old has scored 12 goals and added 27 assists to help the Islanders’ offense rebound in the second half of the season. With Bailey starting to enter the twilight of his career, the veteran forward isn’t an ideal skater for other teams to pursue, but will likely be part of an offer with two years left on his contract and proving he can take on a limited role in a forward unit.
Scott Mayfield has been integral to the Islanders’ defense and overall team success in recent seasons. The veteran defenseman is a pivotal part of the blue line, so it’s unlikely the team will move on from him. However, Mayfield is a free agent at the end of next season, and with young defensemen like Robin Salo and Grant Hutton looking to play a major role on the defense next year, the Islanders might look to move on from the 29-year-old.
While Mayfield missed the end of the season with a lower-body injury he has proven throughout his career to be one of the best skating defensemen in the league. He is a valuable defenseman that the Islanders would ideally like to have on their roster next season. However, if they are looking to make a big move in the offseason, they could move him to upgrade their roster elsewhere.
Other Islanders That Could be Traded
Kieffer Bellows is a pending restricted free agent and will likely be re-signed by the Islanders with hopes of becoming a regular on the forward unit. However, the 23-year-old could be part of a deal for teams looking to rebuild with young skaters like Bellows. In addition, if some of the prospects are ready for action in the NHL by the start of the next season, some of the veteran skaters could become expendable. Ultimately, this offseason will be a crucial one and some players on the roster could be traded as a result.
Mike Fink joined The Hockey Writers in November 2020 and covers the New York Islanders. In addition to covering the Islanders, Fink has written for multiple sports blogs and platforms covering the NHL, NFL, MLB, and college sports. Follow Mike on Twitter @Finks_thoughts for more Islanders and general hockey insights.