After a solid start to the 2018-19 season, the New York Islanders have fallen on some hard times, an expected dip in play which began around the Thanksgiving holiday.
Barry Trotz’s men have picked up just four wins in their last 11 games, including a 2-4-2 record in their last eight. The struggles directly correlate to an offense that has been in shambles, averaging just two goals per game during the 11-game stretch.
New York’s power play has been even worse, recording just a singular man-advantage goal in their last 12 games, the lone tally coming on a 5-on-3 opportunity against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.
The Islanders haven’t scored a 5-on-4 power-play goal since Nov. 15 when they got two past the New York Rangers in a 7-5 win at Barclays Center. Since then, the power-play unit has gone just 1-for-28.
Little has been done to improve the attack as things have grown stale. While the Islanders have called up the mercurial Josh Ho-Sang, who leads the team’s AHL affiliate with 20 assists this season, Trotz has not dressed him to play in each of his first two games back in the NHL.
Despite all the issues, the Islanders still hold the No. 3 spot in the Metropolitan Division, which would give them a playoff berth if the season ended today. The problem is there are 52 games to go, but the Islanders’ contention this far into the season suggests that management should go for it by being buyers as the NHL’s February trade deadline inches closer.
A big name that has been linked to the Islanders since the offseason is Columbus Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin. The 27-year-old’s name has continuously provided fodder for trade rumors as he has yet to start negotiating a contract with the Blue Jackets. With free agency looming this summer, Columbus will have to trade him if there is no progress made in the next few weeks.
While he’s struggled recently with just two goals in his last 17 games, Panarin still has 32 points in 29 games this season.
This week though has seen a new, even larger name crop up on the trade market in St. Louis Blues right winger Vladimir Tarasenko.
A horrendous start to the season that has seen the Blues go 11-14-4 with just 26 points through 29 games has made the franchise big-time sellers this winter. Everyone on the roster is available, including Tarasenko, per Jeremy Rutherford of the Athletic.
The 27-year-old has recorded 30 or more goals in each of the past four seasons. However, he’s been affected by the Blues’ struggles this year as he has just nine goals and 11 assists through 20 games.
On his day, Tarasenko is one of the most explosive playmakers in the league and would provide a significant boost to an anemic Islanders offense. It wouldn’t be too bad a shot to have on that power play, as well. The only caveat would be the Blues’ asking price and how much youth the Islanders would be willing to give up.