5 moves the Islanders can make to get back to the playoffs

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 05: The New York Islanders salute the crowd following their final home game of the 2017-2018 season, a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers at Barclays Center on April 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 05: The New York Islanders salute the crowd following their final home game of the 2017-2018 season, a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers at Barclays Center on April 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The New York Islanders’ absence from the Stanley Cup playoffs left many fans heartbroken. Now, general manager Lou Lamoriello has to find a way to push the team forward.

The New York Islanders’ most recent campaign was an emotional rollercoaster for all of the wrong reasons. Having looked promising at times and nothing short of terrible at others, the franchise concluded the 2017-18 regular season with 80 points — thus finishing in second-to-last place in the Metropolitan Division and 22nd overall in the National Hockey League.

Most disappointing, perhaps, was the downward trajectory that the team embarked upon after what seemed like a favorable start to the regular season. Their monthly record paints a picture of an organization that is far from straining the edges of playoff contention, as the club was unable to recover from a bumpy December:

  • October: 7-4-1
  • November: 8-3-1
  • December: 5-8-2
  • January: 5-7-1
  • February: 4-6-2
  • March: 3-9-3
  • April: 3-0-0

Troubling? Absolutely. More detailed avenues of analysis only further fan the flames of speculative doubt, in that the Islanders’ defensive struggles and lack of a legitimate starting goaltender add fuel to the narrative that a cloud shall continue to loom over the franchise heading into the foreseeable future.

Yet winning ways may arrive sooner than even the most astute pundits are inclined to think. In fact, a set of intelligently cohesive adjustments from the organization’s new GM, Lou Lamoriello, could all but ensure that a culture change is ushered forth as early as next season.

There’s an aura to this team. One that’s strangely reminiscent of the Winnipeg Jets of the not-so-distant past. A club that had countless offensive pieces in place, but lacked the back end and confident netminder to translate dreams of contention into a reality.

Here are five moves that the Islanders can make to ensure that they return to the Stanley Cup playoffs.

2018 NHL Draft
DALLAS, TX – JUNE 22: President of Hockey Operations Lou Lamoriello of the New York Islanders (L) talks with Garth Snow during the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 22, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images) /

5. Administrative shakeup

If you’re a fan of the Islanders, you’ll be happy to know that your team automatically receives high marks for already taking a step — though a long overdue one, at that — in the right direction.

On Tuesday, June 5, it was announced that the franchise had decided to release both general manager Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight from their respective administrative duties. Lou Lamoriello — who, at the time, was appointed to be the club’s president of hockey operations — would take charge of Snow’s post, while a replacement for Weight would be appointed at a later date.

Naturally, the hockey world started to flip out. Few doubted the notion that Snow’s sunset had long set, but the removal of Weight was relatively controversial — precisely because of the relationship that he had developed with pending UFA John Tavares. For some, the dismissal of Weight was equated with the end of an era — a precursor, that is, to a farewell for the books to the team’s captain. Others maintained that a radical restructure was precisely designed to fit the mould for everything that the 27-year-old center was looking for and more.

In a Tweet that has since been deleted, Greg Brady (@gregbradyTO) wrote:

"That’s that for Tavares w/ the Isles. Have heard from far too many connected people that the only way JT was staying was a reaffirmed commitment to Weight as head coach. Isles will attempt to trade his rights before July 1."

Additional pundits chimed in with takes of their own.

Then, on Thursday, June 21, another level was added to the narrative of the Islanders’ offseason when it was announced that Barry Trotz — recipient of the Jack Adams Award (2016) and Stanley Cup champion (2018) — would serve as the next head coach of the organization. In just two weeks, the very figures that had been the face of the Islanders’ culture of losing were replaced by an expert in overseeing rebuilding endeavors and the NHL’s most recent pilot of championship experience.

As it stands, it’s tough to argue that the Islanders have more to do on an administrative front. Relieving Snow and Weight of their duties — especially the former — was expected from all walks of New York’s fanbase. The only question, therefore, is one of tactics.

Were the aforementioned moves enough to convince Tavares to stay?