**This is a complete conspiracy theory on my part. It’s filled with rumors based off of one news report with the foundation of evidence that amounts to nothing. I’m simply testing out how well I have studied Lou’s professional behavior over the years.**
In Lou We Trust
I used to hate that phrase and In some ways I still do. I hated it every time the Devils won the Stanley Cup, when Lou got players like Alexander Mogilny, Ilya Kovalchuk, and especially when he drafted players like Zach Parise for the Devils and as recently as last year when he drafted Timothy Liljegren for the Maple Leafs. That could change within a couple of days. For the last 10 years I have usually written or covered the NHL draft because it was out of necessity. The plan by now former Islanders General manager Garth Snow was to build through the draft and sprinkle in a few free agents along the way. Since the rumblings of Lou Lamoriello surfaced, I decided not to write about this years draftees or the Islanders prospects or about grading the team or even predicting where they could be in the standings by the end of the draft. As much as I have loved covering the draft, this year felt very different. Despite that the Isles have the 11th and 12th overall pick in the draft and two second rounders, it’s the timing of things that are slowly occurring that I have completely changed my stance about what Lou will do. They say that “Trust Is Earned, Not Given” and if that is indeed the case, I think Lou is not only going to make a splash, but go completely across the grain of what Islanders fans have been used to and if he hasn’t earned their trust yet, he will by the end of this weekend. Here’s how I came to all of this.
Lou Already Has Trades In Place
More on Insider Trading. Tavares is now focusing on negotiations with the Islanders on an extension. Daily discussions last two weeks…
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 14, 2018
Daily discussions the last two weeks? This was four days ago so I’m sure they’re still talking, but folks I’m going on record now that this deal is done and it’s been done. It just doesn’t have to be finalized yet. As much as almost everyone hated Garth Snow, you have to give him credit for his cap management and the owners willingness spend on Tavares, money was not an issue here. The Islanders owe Tavares, both on and off the ice, plain and simple. So how did this deal get done? Because Lou has informed Tavares’ agent, Pat Brisson, of most if not all the moves Lou is about to make (or is still thinking about). Brisson is now convinced that Lou is doing enough for both John Tavares AND Mathew Barzal so that keeping both of his clients with the Islanders long-term is an absolute no brainer. Now you should expect Tavares to at least listen to offers next Monday and go through the formalities of a future free agent-to-be, but you can bet that he’ll sign before July 1st to keep that 8th year that he wants, because in his heart I believe he never really wanted to leave in the first place. Tavares Just wants to win now.
So What Kind of Moves Are We Talking About?
First: I believe within the next couple of days (especially before the draft) the Isles will be dismissing a second wave of Isles/Sound Tigers coaches and officially hiring their new Islanders head coach. Who that is? I don’t know. If he has a defensive system that’s better than former head coach Doug Weight, it’s an improvement. If it’s a style John Tavares is comfortable with and can win a few rounds in the playoffs, you go with that. Why so many changes? Because you don’t bring in Lou Lamoriello and run with what your predecessor had, even if you are close friends.
Second: Trades, trades and more trades. Everyone not named Tavares and Barzal in the entire organization are up for grabs at this point. Why? If they don’t fit what Lou is designing, they’re of no use to the Isles. The size of the contracts don’t matter because the team is still under the cap and if a player thinks he’s not going to be moved from the big club, well, I hope they enjoy Bridgeport. You wanted accountability folks? You’re getting it. How many trades are we looking at? As stated above the Isles have a lot of picks, including a first and two seconds next year. I’m guessing that this year rounds one and two will be traded away and quite possibly one or two picks from next years draft as well. If you remember Lou had said he was keeping the scouts and that they’ll be doing the draft. He was still a GM of the Maple Leafs just a month ago. He knows who’s in the draft, but the scouts will be needed for the lower rounds. Lou will have the final say, but he can’t do it all and it gives his staff more time and focus on the later rounds anyways.
So if we’re looking at a plethora of picks, players who don’t fit Lou’s design, tradable prospects (Ho-Sang, Bellows, Toews etc) and a general manager who wants to win now, I’m looking at LEAST two-three trades with one of them being a franchise changing experience for the fans that has not been witnessed since the drafting of Tavares almost a decade ago with Barzal now a close second. Lou goes all in, makes Dean Lombardi look like an amateur scout in trading away many/all draft picks for help now and moves right in to the second greatest general manager of all time behind his good friend, the late Bill Torrey. All within 6 weeks folks and the season hasn’t even started. Torrey was very influential of Lamoriello’s growth as a manager, so it would be fitting if this is his way of repaying Torrey.
I’m coming down to the draft party this Friday from Pennsylvania and may stay the weekend. I believe it’s going to be another experience like the one many saw back in 2009. The fans will have something to cheer about once again and I believe with the moves about to be made, Tavares, Barzal and the other remaining Islanders and their fans will not have to worry about not making the playoffs. Lou won’t allow it. You certainly won’t hear “Well, at least we got Tavares signed!! (thumbs up with a big smile)” if the Isles miss another year of playoffs. Lou won’t allow it. Garth Snow has traded up, traded down and he always drafted with the extra picks he received. If Lou is going to earn my trust, he needs to not do what Snow has done in the past. Don’t trade up to draft; don’t trade down to draft. Don’t trade a player to draft someone else. Trade the picks for players who can play now and not in two years. Do it as often as possible and make sure that the trades make sense and not for the sake of making a trade.
The time to win is now. The Islanders have the makings of the biggest offseason in franchise history and it begins today, the first day of draft week. I’m excited. I’m nervous. I’m intrigued. More importantly I want to be able to go home elated on Saturday night knowing that for the first time I’ll be glad to hear words heard all across sports radio about how the Islanders are back and not going anywhere, when Vegas increases the chances of the Islanders winning the Stanley Cup to better odds. To hear Rangers fans yelling and Flyers fans crying and Devils fans reacting like “Oh, I remember moves like that!” A culture change that’s been needed for some time will have finally happened. For me, when it’s all over and Lou has done his job, then I can proudly say “In Lou We Trust.” Until then, we wait and we go crazy over-analyzing, trading players we don’t like and praying to the hockey gods that Tavares resigns with the Isles.
If I’m right, you’re not ready for what’s about to happen. Don’t be ready, just enjoy the moments if it happens because I still don’t have a clue about what Lou will do, know one does. But…..you don’t bring in someone else to just draft again……do you?