The Islanders Have a Massive Issue

by John Pagnotta | Feb 23, 2024 | General | 0 comments

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The Islanders started the Stadium Series game the best way they possibly could’ve. Through the first 25 minutes, they had a 4-1 lead and were absolutely dominating in all facets of the game. Even when the Rangers showed signs of life as they made it 4-3, an early 3rd period goal by Alexander Romanov put those signs away…until the last 5 minutes. The same repetitive things that we’ve seen time and time again by this team this season showed up again: Terrible penalties and blown leads. An atmosphere that was practically filled with Rangers fans erupted as Kreider and Zibanajad tied the game on 2 different PPs from 2 mind-numbing penalties from Mat Barzal and Scott Mayfield. Panarin stole the puck off a bad turnover from Noah Dobson in OT, and the Rangers walked out of MetLife Stadium with an incredible comeback as the Islanders had another horrendous collapse in a disgraceful loss…

The same struggles that the Islanders suffered with Lambert have still been there with Roy. Roy has done a great job trying to instill the Islanders with new habits so far, but it hasn’t changed many things for the team (the terrible PK, 3rd period collapses, blown leads). Now, has it all been bad under Roy? Absolutely not. The team looks way more aggressive, Sorokin has looked way better (excluding Sunday’s game, which you cannot blame him for), and the turnovers have been way down compared to Lambert’s time. In addition, players like Barzal, Dobson, Nelson, and Palmeri have benefitted from Roy’s more aggressive system.

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You can blame lots of reasons for these struggles this season, but you have to blame GM Lou Lamoriello. I have actually liked Lou as he has brought lots of positive things to the island during his tenure (Barry Trotz, Sorokin, Horvat, Varlamov, Lehner, Pageau, Dobson’s development, and many other additions). However, he has had some head-scratching decisions over the last 2 years and this is where he will be blamed. Scott Mayfield had an okay season in 2023 (6G-18A-24P, +8 rating, 168 blocks), but he had some terrible penalties (83 PIM in 82 games), and too many turnovers (64 giveaways). Mayfield has been with the Islanders since 2013, and he was entering his age 32 season. Lou decides to reward Mayfield with a 7 year, $24M contract ($3.5M a year), which has backfired incredibly. Not only has Scott looked slower and worse, he only has 5 points and a -6 rating in 40 games this season. It also doesn’t help that he cost the team the game against the Rangers (3 horrendous penalties), and he basically has to grab opposing players to stop them from skating around him. Mayfield has been a liability for the Isles, and I don’t see any team wanting to deal with his terrible contract in a trade.

Another negative of Lou was his situation with Pierre Engvall. Engvall was solid with the Islanders when they traded for him last season (5G-4A-9P in 18 games) and played a top-6 role during the playoff push. Since he was a FA going into the offseason, a 3 yr or 4 yr extension would’ve been nice to see. However, Lou locked him up for a staggering 7 years ($3M per season), which keeps him with NY until his age 35 season. This signing has also backfired heavily as Pierre has struggled with only 8 more points in 29 more games and has committed multiple turnovers that have lost the team games. It also doesn’t help that he was benched multiple times by Lambert, and Roy may have to do the same. A third mistake from Lou during his time has been his trades. Excluding Horvat, he has basically killed the Isles’ draft capital for trading for good (not great, but good) players. Trading a first round pick + 2 minor leaguers for Kyle Palmeri and Travis Zajac was not a good choice by Lou. Zajac isn’t on the team anymore, while Palmeri has dealt with injuries and inconsistency (hasn’t scored more than 34 pts in a season with the Islanders). In addition, trading a first rounder and 2 other picks for J.G. Pageau in 2020 was a bit of an overpay. Pageau is an amazing special teams player, a good playmaker/center, and is very undervalued, but he is not worth that much capital as he hasn’t eclipsed 40 points in a season with NY so far. This has led to the team having the 32nd ranked prospect pool in the NHL, which is a very bad place to be at. Furthermore, the decision to fire Barry Trotz is still baffling to me as he turned the Islanders from a defensive disaster to a crisp, defensive team that was incredibly dangerous in the postseason over his tenure. Changing from Trotz to Lambert has affected the Islanders negatively, as lots of sloppiness and uncertainty have overcome this team during the past year and a half.

To wrap things up, Lou has done some incredible things as the GM/president of the Islanders. He has taken them to 2 conference finals, 4 playoff appearances in 5 seasons, and developed a massive core (Dobson, Nelson, Barzal, Romanov, Sorokin, Horvat, Pelech, Pulock) to build around. On the other side, his questionable decisions have caused the Islanders to flirt as a wild card team who finishes with around 90-95 points with no clear position of buying or selling instead of a dominant team who is a top seed in the Eastern Conference and finishes with around 100 points a season.

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My name is John Pagnotta and I live in Queens, NY. I am a sophomore at Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School. I am a huge fan of the Jets, Mets, Islanders, and Knicks. I started following sports when I was around 7 years old and I have not lost love for it ever since!


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