As we inch closer and closer to the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline, there has been no lack of trades. The New York Islanders started the party on Jan. 31 when they acquired Bo Horvat, with the New York Rangers following suit with Vladimir Tarasenko.
Now the New Jersey Devils have joined the party, acquiring Timo Meier on Sunday.
The likely route for the New York Islanders at the deadline is adding depth while listening in on offers for their pending unrestricted free agents.
While the Islanders have not made a move since Horvat, with $7.017 million in projected deadline space, there’s room to add more and fill out the lineup as the playoff push continues.
Per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman on the latest ‘32 Thoughts‘ podcast, he believes the Islanders were in on two names this past week, two names that have homes elsewhere.
On Feb. 24, the Pittsburgh Penguins placed 26-year-old Kasperi Kapanen on waivers, ultimately being claimed by the St. Louis Blues less than 24 hours later.
Friedman had this to say on Sunday’s edition of ’32 Thoughts’:
“I wouldn’t be usually surprised if they either thought about or made a waiver claim on Kapanen,” Friedman said. “They were not as high on the priority list as the Blues, which is why they would have lost it to them. And also, you can work on it. It takes usually a bit of time, although Lou Lamoriello generally doesn’t tell you anything. The league is very careful. It’s actually, I think, part of the CBA that if you don’t get a player on waivers, they’re not supposed to say who made a claim on him. But it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they did make a claim on Kapanen because obviously he knows him from their time in Toronto, and it would have been a free player.”
Lamoriello took over as general manager of the Maple Leafs in 2015 and acquired Kapanen from the Pittsburgh Penguins on July 1, 2015 in a deal for Phil Kessel.
Clearly, there was something Lamoriello liked in Kapanen’s game.
Kapanen has struggled in the Penguins system, as he has failed to score more than 11 goals in a season.
He would have only cost the Islanders his contract, a $3.2 million cap hit for this season and next season.
“Like it doesn’t cost the Islanders an asset to go get him. Yes, there’s the money, but you can always try to deal with that again in the summer, or maybe you keep him into next year,” Friedman said. “If you find it works out, it’s a free player, and the Islanders have paid a lot of their best assets to go out and get Bo Horvat which everybody thinks was a good idea.”
The more logical route for the Islanders would have been to wait for Kapanen to clear and then make a trade with the Penguins, with salary retained, but that wasn’t the reality.
Right now, due to injuries and depth, the Islanders are slim at the wing position, and it may have been worth a flyer.
Another player that Friedman believes the Islanders were in on was former Blues forward Ivan Barbashev, who was dealt to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for prospect Zach Dean, their first-round pick (30th overall) in 2021.
“I do think the Islanders were also around Barbashev,” Friedman said. “Now, obviously, they were outbid by the Golden Knights in St. Louis’ eyes. But what this tells me without getting any hints from the general manager is this is a big run for the Islanders.”
“In their second year in this building, they want to make the playoffs. They want to be competitive. The idea of giving up while they’re in this race is nowheresville, and you know what? They won a couple of games this week when it looks like they were really in trouble. So this says to me that they’re at least trying things and seeing what’s out there in order to stay in the race and make the playoffs.”
We are just four days away from the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline on March 3 at 3 PM ET.