The trade deadline has come and gone, and now that the dust has settled, it will be a sprint by all NHL teams to close out this 56-game season.
The East Division got a little more interesting as the playoff-bound teams, including the Islanders, made moves to bolster their lineups for the stretch run.
The Islanders not only acquired forwards Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac from the New Jersey Devils prior to the deadline, but GM Lou Lamoriello landed defenseman Braydon Coburn from the Ottawa Senators for a seventh-round pick in the 2022 NHL draft on Sunday.
Coburn had two assists in 16 games with the Senators this season. He can become an unrestricted free agent after the season. The 36-year-old rearguard won a Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning last season, so the Islanders get an experienced defenseman who has size and strength at 6-4, 224 pounds.
“He has tremendous character and knows his role and accepts it, so we couldn’t be more delighted than to be able to get him,” Lamoriello said.
Palmieri Makes Immediate Impact
Of course, the biggest move by Lamoriello came last Wednesday when the Islanders acquired Palmieri and Zajac for a first-round pick in the 2021 NHL draft and two minor leaguers. Palmieri didn’t take long to pay dividends, scoring his first goal as an Islander and 9th of the season in a 3-2 overtime win against the New York Rangers on Sunday.
Found a way to get it done. pic.twitter.com/GXpbC1JV2K
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) April 12, 2021
The goal came in Palmieri’s third game as an Islander after the trade. The marker came on a power play at 1:47 of the first period when he backhanded a rebound past Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin for a 1-0 lead.
“You’re surrounded by great players up and down the lineup,” Palmieri said. “There’s guys that make an impact every night. When you come to a team like that and you’re surrounded by guys like that, it’s easy to kind of raise your game and try to fit in.”
The Islanders earned themselves a three-day break before taking on the Boston Bruins with a back-to-back set on Thursday and Friday. Next week, they have four games in seven nights and have a heavy dose of the Washington Capitals coming up.
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) April 12, 2021
With only 14 games remaining on the schedule, the Islanders remained tied with the Capitals atop the East Division. The Penguins are two points behind in third and the Bruins are another eight back in the fourth and final playoff spot.
All four playoff-bound teams in the East made improvements at the trade deadline to keep pace with the Islanders.
The most interesting moves were by the Bruins in landing Taylor Hall and the Penguins in acquiring Jeff Carter. Hall was once an MVP and the Bruins are banking on the fact that he can return to being an elite player with a better team.
Jeff Carter is a playoff-proven asset and still has speed at his age (36). He will be a valuable complement to the scoring trio of Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust. And as soon as the Penguins get healthy, Carter could become a valuable contributor down the stretch.
Here is a recap of what the Islanders’ division rivals did at the trade deadline.
Capitals Add Mantha, Raffl
Mantha was acquired for forwards Jakub Vrana and Richard Panik, a first-round pick in the 2021 draft and a second-rounder in the 2022 draft.
Raffl was acquired in exchange for a 2021 fifth-round draft pick. Raffl scored eight points (three goals, five assists) in 34 games this season. He is in the final season of a two-year contract and can be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
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Bruins Land Hall, Lazar
Taylor Hall, Mike Reilly and Curtis Lazar driving to Boston: pic.twitter.com/Dp0peVqEgh
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) April 12, 2021
Hall had signed a one-year contract at $8 million with the Sabres last October and can become an unrestricted free agent after the season. The 29-year-old forward, who was the No. 1 pick of the Edmonton Oilers in the 2010 NHL draft and a Hart Trophy winner in 2017-18 with New Jersey, had only two goals in 37 games for the Sabres this season.
Lazar has not played since March 31 because of a lower-body injury. The 26-year-old scored nine points in 33 games for Buffalo this season. Lazar has one year left on a two-year, $1.6 million contract.
Penguins Acquire Jeff Carter
The Pittsburgh Penguins kept pace with their division rivals by acquiring Jeff Carter from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a conditional third-round pick in the 2022 NHL draft and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2023 NHL draft.
To one of the most clutch playoff performers in LA Kings history. A major influence on our Championship identity. You did it all, on and off the ice.
— LA Kings (@LAKings) April 12, 2021
Carter had scored eight goals and added 11 assists in 40 games this season and won a Stanley Cup with the Kings in 2012 and 2014. This 36-year-old is signed through next season.
The Penguins have been hard hit with injuries. They have been without forwards Evgeni Malkin, Kasperi Kapanen and Brandon Tanev. They are all listed as week-to-week. Malkin is expected to be back before the end of the season. He sustained a lower-body injury on March 16.