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What Exactly is Lou Lamoriello Doing?

It’s still early July, and hockey season is many months away from even being a thought in most Islander fans’ minds.  However, Lou Lamoriello has made a series of puzzling moves and signings that have Isles fans shaking their heads in disbelief.

The Islanders were the worst defensive team in the league last year, giving up nearly 300 goals and having the most goals against in 12 years.  They were also abysmal on the penalty kill and in the faceoff circle.  In addition, they were soft as a baby’s bottom when it came to toughness.  If you look at all these moves, they follow a pattern.  The guys Lou has signed can either help with the defense, the penalty kill, the faceoff circle, or toughness.

The problem isn’t the fact that the Islanders shored up all of these deficiencies, it’s that they got essentially the same guy 4+ times over and they now have seven guys fighting for what’s essentially two spots.  Until further notice, Andrew Ladd will be on the third line, which means that there will be two spots open on the third line, one on the second line (as Mat Barzal moves up to 1C, unless Jan Kovar is slated for 2C) and one or two extra forwards with the re-signing of Matt Martin.

Martin has that 4th line spot essentially locked up, with a triumphant return to his old linemates Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck.  If that’s the case (which it most likely is), why in the world would you sign Ross Johnston to a four year, one-way contract, Tom Kuhnhackl to a one year contract, Leo Komarov to a bloated four year deal and Valteri Filppula to a one year deal as well?  There’s way too many cooks in the kitchen.  For argument’s sake, let’s try to include as many of these guys as you can in the lineup for next season:

Bailey – Barzal – Lee

Beauvillier – Kovar – Eberle

Ladd – Filppula – Komarov

Martin – Cizikas – Clutterbuck

Kuhnhackl – Johnston

Where is Brock Nelson going?  Everyone just assumes he’s going to be traded but what if he isn’t?  What if Kiefer Bellows or Josh Ho-Sang surprise the coaching staff in training camp and push for a spot?  What if, God forbid, Michael Dal Colle decides to play up to his potential as a 5th overall pick and make the team?  There are so many questions and so few answers, so there better be something coming down the pipeline.

Most of the people will give Lou the benefit of the doubt because he’s the architect of many Stanley Cup winners, but he may have lost a step or two between 1999 and now.  He’s had a history of overpaying for grinders and has never really made a big splash trade, so it’s perfectly normal to be nervous about this.  Either way, it should be an interesting season for the Islanders.  Let’s just hope for the best.

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