Is Lou Lamoriello A Washed Up NHL Executive In 2021?
Lou Lamoriello is one of the finest executives the NHL has seen in the past three decades. From New Jersey to Toronto, and now Long Island, he has brought a culture of excellence at every stop. He transformed the Devils from an expansion afterthought to a powerhouse with three Cups. He rebuilt the Maple Leafs from a lottery laughingstock to a consistent playoff team. Most recently, Lamoriello reversed the fortunes of the New York Islanders. They went from an undesirable circus act to one of the most well-run and well-coached teams in the league. A lot of praise is due despite coming up short in consecutive years to the eventual Stanley Cup champions. Many folks are now taking notice of the Islanders’ impressive turnaround, with Lamoriello and head coach Barry Trotz at the heart of it.
The man has had one hell of a career, but father time is undefeated. Lamoriello is now 78 years old with a busy offseason ahead of him. The Seattle Kraken’s expansion draft combined with a talented 2021 draft class and the jam-packed free agency gives him a laundry list of things to do. Can he keep up with the modern NHL? It is time to grade Lamoriello’s most recent trades and protection list for the upcoming expansion draft to make a verdict on his future as an executive.
Nick Leddy To Detroit Trade: B+
Many had assumed, including our hockey guru Andrew, that Nick Leddy would be off to Seattle in the expansion draft. Lamoriello decided that was not going to happen and instead of losing him for nothing, the Islanders received Richard Panik and a second-round pick. This trade helps the Islanders’ cap situation considerably. Lamoriello offloaded Leddy and his $5.5 million cap hit while getting Panik back at 50% of his $3.75 salary. He could easily replace Kyle Palmieri, who is a pending free agent, or use him as a trade piece for a top-6 forward. The Isles’ key free agents can (maybe) breathe a sigh of relief, as the cap relief helps their chances of staying on the Island.
Andrew Ladd To Arizona Trade: A
Lamoriello had to bite the bullet and give up some picks, but this was absolutely the right move, especially considering that he managed to keep the Islanders’ 2022 first-round pick and get out of Ladd’s $5.5 million salary. Two seconds and a third is a fairly hefty price, but Lamoriello does not want to wait for those selections to develop. In a matter of days, he gained roughly $10 million of cap space to play with. Resigning guys like Casey Cizikas and Adam Pelech seems much more likely, and Lamoriello could finally be going after big names, as Gabe Landeskog is heading towards free agency and Vladimir Tarasenko is on the trade block.
Seattle Expansion Draft Protection List: B-
This list is by no means perfect. Picking guys like Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin over Josh Bailey and Jordan Eberle will certainly raise some eyebrows, but they would have been protected if Lamoriello thought Seattle would take them. If I were him, I would give Seattle a free run. No side deals or anything. There are younger options like Kieffer Bellows and Otto Koivula there. As well, established forwards like Eberle and Bailey are ripe for the taking. Lamoriello will either keep ahold of his important roster players or open up even more cap space. It is not exactly a win-win, but the Lamoriello train will keep on rolling.
Verdict: He Is Not Washed Up
Lou Lamoriello definitely has some years left in the NHL, but we might need to revisit this soon. It is not a sure thing that these upcoming years will be good ones. If he has trouble bringing free agents back, or cannot acquire a quality replacement of Leddy and an upgrade on the top 6, there will be more question marks. However, he has undoubtedly made some good moves up to this point. The Islanders are simply in a position to win now, and I am happy he is in charge. Fingers crossed, a big offseason is in store for the Island.
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