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Is this the most important week in Islanders history?

The short answer to this article would be yes, but that’s no fun.  We’re going to take a deeper dive into why this is the most important week in Islanders history.  It’s even more important than the dynasty years because those years took almost a decade to assemble.

In just a few weeks, the Islanders went from long-shots to re-sign John Tavares with Garth Snow and Doug Weight to favorites to land both Tavares and Barry Trotz, who recently resigned from his position as head coach with the Washington Capitals.  If the Islanders can land both their captain and the incumbent Stanley Cup champion coach, it will be one of the most successful weeks in hockey history.  Let’s take a deeper dive into just what this week means for the Islanders.

Lou still looking for his coach

With the recently departed Trotz, there’s a good chance the Islanders take a flier on him.  They’re the only team who has a head coach opening, and Trotz turned down a clause in his contract that would pay him $1M more over his next two years.  I’m not putting words in his mouth, but he seemed to want to get out of D.C. immediately even after winning a Stanley Cup because the Caps seem to have had his replacement waiting in the wings, Todd Reirden.

In the past the Islanders never in their wildest dreams would have thought of obtaining the services of a Stanley Cup winning coach.  The last coach they hired with NHL experience was Ted Nolan, who last coached for them over a decade ago.  It’s always been a mom and pop type environment, which is partially why they haven’t had much success.  Being able to legitimize both the GM and head coach position will entice John Tavares even more than just bringing in Lou Lamoriello and making some trades.  It shows the stability that Tavares has been wanting for years.

Will John Tavares stay?

All indications point to yes.  It’s a little more complex than just, “The Islanders have Lou Lamoriello and a new arena, what more does he want?” Although quite honestly I’ve found myself thinking that way exactly.  Tavares has already gotten to this point without a contract, so unless he is absolutely convinced the Islanders have a plan to compete immediately (they do, Lou always has a plan) he’ll most likely at least dip his toe into free agency.

Before Lou was hired and while Garth and Doug Weight were still here, it seemed almost impossible that Tavares would stay.  The two were on their last legs, had no gameplan and made the Islanders look more silly with each additional day they were here.  Heresay stating that Tavares was upset with the move to fire Weight is just dumb, as Tavares would have been briefed on the moves in the meeting he had with Lamoriello.  It’s almost a certainty that eventually a deal will be worked out with Tavares and the Islanders, but I won’t believe it until the ink has dried on the contract.

The draft (or lack thereof)

The most underrated and probably most important of this week is the upcoming draft.  The draft is this Friday, June 22nd, and the Islanders will surely be doing a lot of wheeling and dealing.  They have two first round picks, the 11th overall (from Calgary in the Travis Hamonic trade) and the 12th overall.  They will most definitely be dealing at least one of their picks.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Islanders traded their 12th overall for Philipp Grubauer of the Capitals.  Another intriguing name the Islanders can lure in free agency is Carter Hutton.  There may be some goalies that the Islanders are waiting in the weeds for, but those two are the ones that I’ve heard rumors about.  In addition, the Isles might be trying to package the other pick in another deal.  It’s going to take a MASSIVE haul (I’m talking top prospect, Anders Lee, & first round pick) but don’t be surprised to see Erik Karlsson in the mix for the Islanders also.  Lou knows that no one except Mat Barzal is untouchable on this roster, and if it takes Anders Lee to get one of the best defensemen in the league, he’ll do it in a heartbeat.

For the first time in years Islander fans have hope.  Not some fabricated hope where they “hope” that Doug Weight continues to be a good coach, or that the Islanders win a round in the playoffs, but legitimate Stanley Cup aspirations.  They’ve seen what Lou Lamoriello did for both the Devils and Maple Leafs, so is it so bad to dream of a Cup?  They have plenty of pieces, all they need now is to put this plan into action.  In Lou we trust, and God Speed heading into this week.

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