The New York Islanders went all in to acquire Nikita Kucherov as a linemate for Connor McDavid. The Isles will pair the top 2 NHL point producers together to start the 2019-2020 season, with Tomas Hertl expected to play on the left side. To add another top superstar to a team that has seen their window open as a Stanley Cup contender, New York had to go for it and start gunning for cups.
The trade sent Elias Lindholm, Alexandre Texier, Andre Burakovsky, and two 1st rounders to the Dallas Stars in exchange for Nikita Kucherov and Travis Sanheim. Moving Lindholm plus everything else after the season he just had was tough, but that was a breakthrough year and there’s no guarantee he will repeat it. Texier is a great prospect that was hard to part with, but it saved the Isles from having to add Quinn Hughes which was a non-starter for New York. Burakovsky wasn’t going to be on the Islanders top 12 forward roster and had to move to clear cap space. The two 1st round picks are both going to be lower picks and were expensive to give up, but considering what came back, became acceptable.
In Kucherov, the Islanders get a superstar who just won the NHL Art Ross Trophy and the Hart. He’s signed for a very cheap $5.5 million for the next 3 years at which point the Islanders will loyalty sign him for at least another 2 years. Pairing his 87 SC rating and 94 PA rating with McDavid’s 88 SC rating and 94 PA rating and adding Hertl’s 83 SC and 78 PA is going to be the best line in the league. Adding Sanheim in the deal at the end was what pushed it over the top for NY, as he could play in the top 4 as soon as this year and is only 23.
This is not a one line team either, they did not sell the farm in this deal. Having Darcy Kuemper in goal (80 OV), Matt Barzal and Brendan Gallagher on the 2nd line, Jason Zucker, Ilya Kovalchuck, Chris Tierney on the third line, and Seth Jones, Keith Yandle, and Brett Pesce on the blueline give this team talent, speed, and depth in all areas. Add in top prospects like Quinn Hughes, Joel Eriksson Ek, Adrian Kempe, and others, this team is setting up to be a Stanley Cup contender for many years to come.
What’s next for the Islanders? They are still looking for another scoring winger as well as an offensive defenceman, so moves will still be made.