New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello made a franchise-changing move, hiring Stanley Cup-winning head coach Barry Trotz in 2018 after his resignation from the Washington Capitals. Lamoriello then re-signed a bunch of his team’s impending free agents that offseason, but stayed extremely quiet until February of his second year in charge of the Islanders.
In a span of eight days, the Isles acquired Andy Greene and Jean-Gabriel Pageau in separate deals without giving up a player off of their roster, and they’ve now advanced to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 1993.
“I think when you make a move or you don’t make a move, there’s always a reason, not an excuse, why you did or you didn’t do it,” Lamoriello said. “And you have to be careful at the given time, what the needs are and who the type of player is that you would want in there. And you target that. If you don’t get that player, you just don’t make a move for the sake of doing it.”
The first move Lamoriello made was acquiring Greene from the New Jersey Devils for a second-round draft pick and David Quenneville. Greene came in to replace Adam Pelech, who had what was thought to be a season-ending Achilles injury. However, with the extended break resulting from COVID-19, Pelech returned, and Greene started the postseason out as a healthy scratch.
After an injury to Johnny Boychuk in Game 1 of the Qualifying Round, Greene has not come out of the lineup. He has also started to gain chemistry with Nick Leddy. Greene is a defensive defenseman, while Leddy brings more offense and likes to join in on the rush. Greene has scored a pair of goals in his 15 playoff games along with two assists, and is a plus-six in the postseason.
The veteran also brings much experience to the penalty kill, which has been tested. After New York struggled in their first two series while down a man, Greene helped keep the Flyers off the board in the series. On the third pairing, the former Devil is averaging 17:47 of time-on-ice per game, which allows Trotz to roll out all of his defenders throughout the game instead of relying on the top pairing for half of the night.
The Islanders gave up a first, second, and third-round pick for a third-line center in Pageau. Before he even played a game with New York, Lamoriello did a terrific job of locking his acquisition up long-term with a six-year deal worth $30 million.
“The picks are nothing. I can tell you that because a lot of picks never play and this you know you have a solid guy, and he fits right into our hockey team.”
Despite New York losing his first seven games with him to end the regular season, Pageau has been one of the best forwards in the Toronto bubble. With two very solid centers in Mat Barzal and Brock Nelson ahead of him, Pageau has fit in nicely on the third line with Leo Komarov and Derick Brassard. He also plays physically and is not afraid to back down from anyone, as he dropped the gloves with Flyers forward Scott Laughton in the third period of Game 7.
Pageau scored a goal in his first two games on Long Island and has seven goals and two assists in the postseason. Trotz has used him on the second power-play unit as well as the penalty kill with Komarov. He also has much success with face-offs, which has been an area that New York has struggled with for years.
As the postseason moves on, both Greene and Pageau will continue to play pivotal roles for the Islanders. This has been a team that’s not pulled off two significant trades like this in a long time, and they’re getting the benefits as they look to add a fifth Stanley Cup to Long Island.