Lamoriello OK with Islanders standing pat before Trade Deadline
GM 'very comfortable with this hockey team,' doesn't feel forced to make movesby Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor
EAST MEADOW, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders have nine days before the NHL Trade Deadline to decide whether they'll make any moves, but general manager Lou Lamoriello will hardly be devastated if nothing happens.
Lamoriello was hired as president of hockey operations by the Islanders on May 22, 2018, after they missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a second straight season and allowed the most goals in the NHL (293) in 2017-18; he named himself as GM on June 5. New York (34-17-6) enters its game against the Edmonton Oilers at Barclays Center on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; MSG+, SNW, SNP, NHL.TV) in first place in the Metropolitan Division, three points ahead of the Washington Capitals.
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They've done that by focusing on defense after losing their captain, center John Tavares, who signed as a free agent with the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 1. Under new coach Barry Trotz, New York has allowed an NHL-low 131 goals through 57 games.
"I'm very comfortable with this hockey team," Lamoriello said at the Islanders training facility Saturday. "I think the commitment that they've made to each other to have success and the amount of respect they have for each other and how happy they are because we've had a different person each and every night come forward to do what's necessary.
"Our coaching staff has done an outstanding job, and the players have done an outstanding job of buying into what's being asked. But really, we've got some 25 games left right now. The season is not over by any means. This is the most difficult time of the season; everybody revs up at this time, and that's what we have to do. We can't rest on anything. But let's not apologize for the success that we have had, because it's because of a reason."
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Lamoriello said he's had his usual dialogue with general managers across the NHL, albeit at an increased rate in recent weeks as the deadline of Feb. 25 at 3 p.m. ET approaches.
"The communication between teams, no matter what your needs might be or what you might be looking for, you want to know exactly what's going on in the League, so communication does not change," Lamoriello said. "It does rev up certainly as you get close to the deadline, for whatever reason. You take as much time as you possibly can. Right now, we'll just see how things come out."
The game against the Oilers will be the regular-season finale at Barclays Center; the Islanders will play their remaining 12 home games at Nassau Coliseum. It was announced Friday that New York would play its home games in the Eastern Conference First Round at the Coliseum, with any remaining home playoff games at Barclays Center.
"I think, as we all know, a decision had to be made," Lamoriello said. "The decision's made; it's behind us now. What we can do is just focus on what we have to do, and that is we have to get in the playoffs before we can activate any type of schedule, so that's our focus.
"This is behind us, and now the business people can do whatever is necessary to do planning, but in no way are we assuming anything. We have a responsibility right now as to continue to do what we're doing to get in the playoffs."
The Islanders, who are scheduled to move into a new building at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, in the fall of 2021, returned to the Coliseum for 21 games this season. They are 6-1-2 there.
"I think it's important to the fans, important to the atmosphere, enthusiasm that's been created," Lamoriello said about having at least some playoff games at the Coliseum. "I think it's the right decision."