The Islanders announced Tuesday that former Maple Leafs/Devils GM Lou Lamoriello has indeed joined their staff as president of hockey operations.

It was rumored by The Athletic's Arthur Staple Monday that Lamoriello was set to join the Islanders in some capacity "in a matter of days." Well, it was less than a day since that report came out that New York decided to release the news themselves.

"We are grateful to Larry Tanenbaum and the Toronto Maple Leafs for their courtesy in allowing this move," Malkin said. "We are committed to giving Lou every resource and the full support of the entire organization as we pursue our program to compete at the highest level."

Lamoriello, who was supposed to transition to a senior advisor with Toronto following his three years as GM, is excited for his new opportunity. 

"I am excited to join such a storied franchise and look forward to working with Scott Malkin and the entire New York Islanders organization," Lamoriello said.

At 75, Lamoriello has accomplished many feats over his long tenure in the NHL. He began working as the Devils president and GM in 1987, where he won three Stanley Cups in five appearances. He also won nine division titles and made the postseason 21 times with 13 of those coming consecutively from 1997-2010. Recently, Lamoriello's Leafs has made the playoffs for the past two seasons.

After his many accomplishments, Lamoriello was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009. 

Lamoriello has already gotten to work with his new team, as he reportedly spoke with captain John Tavares who is set to become a free agent on July 1. 

As for now former president of hockey operations and current GM Garth Snow, his role is currently unknown. 



Cal Clutterbuck (15) Jean-Gabriel Pageau (44) Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)
Cal Clutterbuck (15) Jean-Gabriel Pageau (44) Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)

Islanders D Cal Clutterbuck has a new nickname, but he isn't too fond of it.

"Shuttlebuck" came about from an interview with Flyers F Robert Hagg, who expressed his hatred for Clutterbuck during an interview after the Isles preseason opener at the Coliseum. 

"It doesn't matter if you play against Martin or Shuttlebuck, or whatever it is -- I hate that guy," Hagg told The Post's Brett Cygalis. "There's that kind of player on every team."

Tags: Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin
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Mar 11, 2018; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; New York Islanders left wing Anders Lee (27) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports (Sergei Belski)
Mar 11, 2018; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; New York Islanders left wing Anders Lee (27) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports (Sergei Belski)

The Islanders already missed out on their coveted free agent in C John Tavares this offseason. But that is now officially in the past, and focus turns toward another Isles key cog that will see his contract expire at the end of the year as well. 

Anders Lee is in the final year of his four-year, $15 million deal, after which he becomes an unrestricted free agent. It is too early to tell if Lee will take Tavares' route and hear out potential suitors next offseason, but that isn't even on his mind. 

According to Newsday's Andrew Gross, Lee isn't worried about his contract situation, saying "our cases are different."

Tags: Anders Lee, John Tavares
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New York Islanders right wing Joshua Ho-Sang (Dennis Schneidler/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders right wing Joshua Ho-Sang (Dennis Schneidler/USA TODAY Sports)

Josh Ho-Sang's Islanders career hasn't exactly gone to plan.

The Islanders made Ho-Sang the No. 28 overall pick in the 2014 Draft and last season was supposed to be his breakout campaign but he couldn't break out of Bridgeport, spending most of his season in the AHL. He played just 22 games with the Islanders, scoring four goals and adding six assists.

Tags: Josh Ho-Sang
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Mathew Barzal (13) Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports (Sergei Belski)
Mathew Barzal (13) Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports (Sergei Belski)

Islanders' Mathew Barzal turned some heads last season and is being recognized as one of the best players in the league.

According to NHL Network, Barzal is the 49th best player in the NHL. The second-year man is expected to pick up much of the offensive burden left by departing John Tavares.

Last season, Barzal led the team with 85 points (22 goals, 63 assists).

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Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The Islanders' return to the Coliseum while their new arena at Belmont Park is built continues to go smoothly thus far.

The Nassau County Industrial Development Agency approved tax breaks for the Isles' renovation plans at the Nassau Coliseum, according to Newsday's Victor Ocasio. The Islanders were looking to get a $400 million to $450 million tax break to purchase new equipment, furniture and fixtures for their renovation project.

The upgrades, which will be worth $9.95 million, would deem the arena worthy to play in for the three years needed before the Belmont Park arena is finished. A $6 million state grant will pay for most of the project, while the Islanders will pick up the rest of the tab at around $3.9 million.

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Nov 11, 2017; St. Louis, MO, USA; New York Islanders center Casey Cizikas (53) celebrates after scoring a goal against St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen (not pictured) during the first period at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports (Billy Hurst)
Nov 11, 2017; St. Louis, MO, USA; New York Islanders center Casey Cizikas (53) celebrates after scoring a goal against St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen (not pictured) during the first period at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports (Billy Hurst)

With Barry Trotz and Lou Lamoriello in charge of the Islanders, center Casey Cizikas told the Islanders website that he feels like a rookie and is coming in to training camp looking to prove himself "all over again."

Cizikas has played in 413 career games, all with the Islanders, and had 7 goals and 10 assists in 64 games last season.

He said that he is excited to play under Trotz and is looking forward to the opportunity for more minutes and responsibilities with John Tavares now in Toronto.

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Apr 7, 2018; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Islanders center Jordan Eberle (7) gets defended by Detroit Red Wings left wing David Booth (17) during the third period at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)
Apr 7, 2018; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Islanders center Jordan Eberle (7) gets defended by Detroit Red Wings left wing David Booth (17) during the third period at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)

Jordan Eberle said on Tuesday that he and the Islanders have not yet discussed a contract extension.

Eberle, 28, is entering the final year of the six-year $36 million contract he originally signed as a member of the Edmonton Oilers.

"To be honest I haven't had any conversations with anybody," Eberle said, per NHL.com. "Going into the summer I was trying to focus on me and being the best I can be, and come into the camp the best I can be. Once that happens you start trying to fill a role and try to make this team as good as it can be."

Tags: Jordan Eberle
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New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) plays against the Detroit Red Wings in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya/AP)
New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) plays against the Detroit Red Wings in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya/AP)

It's time to test your Islanders' historical knowledge as preseason hockey inches closer.

How many of the 30 players who scored 100 career goals for the Islanders can you name? Try it below!

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Dec 1, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) celebrates a goal against the Ottawa Senators by New York Islanders center Anders Lee (not pictured) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Dec 1, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) celebrates a goal against the Ottawa Senators by New York Islanders center Anders Lee (not pictured) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

In the history of the franchise, there have been 76 instances of which that an Islanders' player has scored 30+ goals in a season. How many can you name? 

Test your knowledge by playing the quiz below...

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New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) plays against the Detroit Red Wings in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya/AP)
New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) plays against the Detroit Red Wings in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya/AP)

The Islanders may have lost C John Tavares, but new head coach Barry Trotz doesn't believe it will kill their offensive output. 

Yes, Tavares accounted for 82 points last season, but Trotz thinks he has the personnel to find offensive success this upcoming season. 

"This team can score, with John Tavares or without John Tavares," Trotz told The Athletic's Arthur Staple in a Q&A session. "The area it's failed in maybe the last year and a half is on the defensive end. Just looking at the trends over the last four years, it's clear that's an area we need to fix. ...With the John Tavares situation, we look forward, we can't look back. Guys are up to the challenge. John's a fantastic player, face of the franchise and it's a hole you can't fill with one guy. It's collectively with the group."

Tags: Anders Lee, John Tavares, Mathew Barzal
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 (Christopher Katsarov)
(Christopher Katsarov)

Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello has no concerns over the construction of the team's new Belmont Park arena.

The Islanders were dead last in attendence at Barclay's Center last season with 12,000, so the new arena can't come soon enough. Lamoriello is optimstic and thinks people will be pleasantly surprised.

"I think you'll know better in the first of the year of an exact date," Lamoriello said on Sirius XM NHL Network Radio. "But it's not as long as people might think. I think a lot will be surprised and I think that's just great news."

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Barry Trotz Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Barry Trotz Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

It would be natural for Barry Trotz to take a nice, relaxing summer following the NHL playoff grind that saw his Washington Capitals secure the Stanley Cup. But relaxation is the polar opposite of what he has been up to.

Right after finishing the grind to win the Cup, Trotz left the Capitals and joined an Islanders team that needed a lot of work. He teamed up with new president of hockey operations, Lou Lamoriello, and has been constructing his coaching staff and roster since his transition to Long Island. 

But a quick break will be in the works next week when the Cup is in Trotz' hands for the first time since the victory on Aug. 22. He knows it will be short-lived, though. 

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Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

[Editor's Note: Islanders fans, we want to hear from you and share some of your viewpoints. Tweet @ChrisBottaNHL before 11:59 pm on Friday, Aug. 3 to share your prediction -- at this moment -- of where the Islanders will finish in the Eastern Conference standings at the end of 2018-19. We need the number (first? 6th? 12th?) and brief thought summarizing why. Your tweet may be used in a future Point Blank piece.]

You are Lou Lamoriello, Hall of Fame architect. You've taken over a team that has missed the playoffs each of the last two seasons and won one playoff round since 1993. Then, through no fault of your own, you lose your most celebrated player to free agency.

Suddenly, the new job is eerily familiar to your previous one with the Maple Leafs. There, you started with a thin roster and a top coach, Mike Babcock. But in 2016, you had the first pick in the draft and were gifted Auston Matthews.

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Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of the ice before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of the ice before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Do you remember where you were seven years ago today?

On Aug. 1, 2011, I went for a run in the village of Rockville Centre, saw the determined looks on the faces of the residents marching into South Side Middle School, and knew it right away.

The public vote to build a new arena on the Coliseum property for the Islanders was going to be a big, fat, no frickin' way.

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To hear his college coach talk about him, the Islanders may be justified in their faith that Devon Toews will be an impact defenseman this season and for many to come.

"Devon's going to be a Corsi king - a top possession defender," said Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold, who took over the program in 1994 and is third among active NCAA Division I men's hockey coaches in victories. "Some people are going to be surprised about him, but not us. We know how good Devon is, and how good he's going to become."

Toews played for the Bobcats for three seasons, from 2013-2016, with an appearance in the Frozen Four in his final season. Pecknold identified Toews as an intriguing prospect and recruited him to attend the university in Connecticut with the guidance of a good connection: Matt Erhart, who played for Pecknold at Quinnipiac in the first four years of this century, was Toews' coach as a teenager with the Surrey (British Columbia) Eagles...

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New York Islanders left wing Brock Nelson (Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders left wing Brock Nelson (Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports)

The Islanders re-signed forward Brock Nelson to a one-year deal, the team announced Monday.

Terms of the deal were not announced, although The Athletic's Arthur Staple reports Nelson will earn $4.25 million, which is $750,000 more than he earned last season.

Nelson, 26, totaled 19 goals and 16 assists in his fifth NHL season last year, appearing in all 82 games for New York.

Tags: Brock Nelson
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Nick Leddy (L) Johnny Boychuk (55) Josh Bailey (12) Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)
Nick Leddy (L) Johnny Boychuk (55) Josh Bailey (12) Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)

Islanders Josh Bailey and Johnny Boychuk are sick of hearing the team doesn't have any hope next season. And more importantly, those who believe the team will lack leadership with the exit of captain John Tavares, must think again. 

These two Islanders veterans find themselves in position to take the torch, if you will, from Tavares and lead the pack. These past five seasons have been Tavares' team, but now, it is up to the collective group to work together. 

Tavares may be gone, but that doesn't mean the Islanders should be deemed out of the running already. 

Tags: John Tavares, Johnny Boychuk, Josh Bailey, Mathew Barzal, Scott Thompson
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Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

If the Islanders' arena project on the Belmont Park property faces obstacles in approvals and construction, team management has wisely negotiated a cushion.

Point Blank has learned that the Islanders' agreement with the operators of the Nassau Coliseum is not just for the next three NHL seasons, but also includes two option years for the club. Two people with knowledge of the agreement shared the information, requesting anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the issue.

This means that if the Islanders' arena in Belmont is not completed for the start of the 2021-22 season, the team has the option to continue playing at the Coliseum for at least that season and the following one...

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The Islanders' defense will improve in 2018-19 for a simple reason beyond the fact that the team is now coached by the infinitely more accomplished tactician Barry Trotz. It will be better because it could not possibly be worse than it was under Doug Weight and his band of assistants last season, when it was historically very, very bad:

Most goals allowed (293) by an NHL team since 2006-07

Allowed five or more goals in regulation and conceded at least 40 shots on goal 20 times

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Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of the ice before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of the ice before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The Islanders announced Wednesday that John Gruden has been named an assistant head coach under Barry Trotz.

Gruden, 48, was the head coach of the Hamilton Bulldogs of the Ontario Hockey League for the past two seasons, finishing with an overall record of 76-45-8-7.

Prior to joining the Bulldogs, Gruden worked with USA Hockey, where he was an assistant coach for Team USA of the 2016 U18 World Championships. He also worked as an assistant in other roles for USA Hockey from 2011 to 2015.

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The Front of the Barclays center is shown Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) (Frank Franklin II/AP)
The Front of the Barclays center is shown Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) (Frank Franklin II/AP)

We don't know if there are pictures of 10-year-old Anders Lee of Edina, Minn. in the pajamas of the first-year Wild back in the year 2000, but the Islanders might not want to take any chances.

As the Islanders embark on this uncertain three (or more)-year path to Belmont, they must learn from the John Tavares heartache. They need to control what they can control, and make their organization as attractive - or at least as less unattractive - as possible. They need to eliminate the excuses for someone else to walk out the door.

Beginning with the 2019-20 season, all of their home games must be played at the barn in Nassau County. And the plan to move all of the games to Nassau should be announced weeks before the trade deadline in February 2019.

Tags: Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle, Chris Botta
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Ryan Pulock (6) Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)
Ryan Pulock (6) Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)

Islanders D Ryan Pulock has agreed to a two-year contract, the team announced on Tuesday. 

Pulock played in 68 games with New York last season, where he totaled career highs in goals (10) and assists (22). Overall, the 23-year-old has 36 points over 84 career games.

The 15th overall pick by the Islanders back in 2013, Pulock has spent most of his career with the AHL Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He has totaled 100 points (39 goals, 61 assists) during his time there. 

Tags: Ryan Pulock
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 (Christopher Katsarov)
(Christopher Katsarov)

The Islanders have announced that they have resigned defenseman Kyle Burroughs and Devon Toews. Both were restricted free agents and spent time with AHL affiliate, Bridgeport Sound Tigers. 

Burroughs was a seventh round pick for the Islanders back in 2013. He has now spent three seasons in Bridgeport, posting a career high 25 points and a plus-minus of +16. 

Toews has spent the past two season in Bridgeport but missed the second half of the season after having a shoulder injury in January. Toews, 24, played for Quinnipiac University for three years before heading to Bridgeport. The former fourth round pick had five goals and forty assists in his first season in the AHL. 

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Now that "John Tavares" has "written" his farewell to the Islanders for The Players Tribune, here are some final Point Blank thoughts on the whole ordeal:

Tavares' piece was what you'd expect: an attempt to explain himself and thank Islander fans. The timing of its publishing was flawed; the piece posted just as the pain and anger in Islanders Country had subsided. Getting his message across by July 2 would have been more effective and heartfelt. But hey, I know how tough it is to write on deadline.

Still, it's clear from reading the piece that Tavares was very aware of the reaction of his departure, and cares what people think about him. There's nothing bad about that.

Tags: John Tavares, Chris Botta
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New York Islanders center John Tavares skates against the New Jersey Devils during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 31, 2018, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez/AP)
New York Islanders center John Tavares skates against the New Jersey Devils during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 31, 2018, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez/AP)

John Tavares thanked Islanders fans and reflected on his time with the team via a Players' Tribune letter published on Wednesday.

The former Islanders' team captain described a breakdown-like situation he endured when he was forced to choose whether to sign with the Maple Leafs or remain with the Islanders -- a decision he said he "just literally, physically could not" make.

Tavares, who turned down an eight-year deal with the Islanders in favor of a contract with the Maple Leafs, said he wrote the letter because of his "real, honest, still-there love for the New York Islanders hockey franchise."

Tags: John Tavares
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Toronto Maple Leafs NHL hockey general manager Lou Lamoriello speaks to reporters in Toronto, Friday, April 27, 2018. The Boston Bruins defeated the Maple Leafs in the first round of the playoffs. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press via AP) (COLE BURSTON/AP)
Toronto Maple Leafs NHL hockey general manager Lou Lamoriello speaks to reporters in Toronto, Friday, April 27, 2018. The Boston Bruins defeated the Maple Leafs in the first round of the playoffs. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press via AP) (COLE BURSTON/AP)

Face it: if Garth Snow had made all of the player personnel moves that Lou Lamoriello has so far as Islanders GM, there would be a march on Eisenhower Park.

In the excitement over the removal of the embarrassing regime of Snow and installation of Lamoriello as leader of hockey operations, somewhere along the line it seems people believe the legendary ex-Devils architect is untouchable.

Since the painful exit of John Tavares, there has been a lot of puffed-out chests and declarations of Hey, Screw Tavares -- We've Got Lou and We Can't Go Wrong...

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Feb 23, 2018; Gangneung, South Korea; Czech Republic forward Jan Kovar (43) goes for the puck against Olympic Athlete from Russia goaltender Vasili Koshechkin (83) in the men's ice hockey semifinals during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Gangneung Hockey Centre. Mandatory Credit: David E. Klutho-USA TODAY Sports (David E. Klutho)
Feb 23, 2018; Gangneung, South Korea; Czech Republic forward Jan Kovar (43) goes for the puck against Olympic Athlete from Russia goaltender Vasili Koshechkin (83) in the men's ice hockey semifinals during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Gangneung Hockey Centre. Mandatory Credit: David E. Klutho-USA TODAY Sports (David E. Klutho)

The Islanders are continuing to bolster their roster for the upcoming season with C Jan Kovar inking a one-year, $2 million deal. 

The 28-year-old played for the KHL's Magnitogorsk Metallurg since 2013, where he has totaled 286 points (97 goals, 189 assists) over 285 games. Last season, he notched seven goals and 28 assists over 54 games. 

Kovar has also represented the Czech Republic in five World Championship, including the 2017 Winter Olympics. Overall, he has six goals and 13 assists in 42 international games. 

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Mathew Barzal (13) Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports (Sergei Belski)
Mathew Barzal (13) Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports (Sergei Belski)

After winning the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL's top rookie, 21-year-old Islanders forward Mathew Barzal can be the new face of the franchise with John Tavares out of the picture.

"He's a driven, driven guy to be the best player he can be," Russ Farwell, the VP of hockey operation for Barzal's junior hockey team, the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL, told Newsday's Andrew Gross. "He's totally focused on his game. He's a very confident guy, too. He was a really highly touted minor player, so being the show or being the guy wasn't foreign to him. His whole life, everybody has pointed to him."

Tags: John Tavares, Mathew Barzal
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Jan 22, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello and New Yor Yankees general manager Brian Cashman watch the Toronto Raptors play against the Phoenix Suns at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports (Tom Szczerbowski)
Jan 22, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello and New Yor Yankees general manager Brian Cashman watch the Toronto Raptors play against the Phoenix Suns at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports (Tom Szczerbowski)

Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello has nothing but respect for John Tavares after the former team captain opted to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"In my dealings with John, he proved himself to be a sincere, honest young man," Lamoriello told NHL.com. "He earned the right to test free agency, and that's what he did.

Tavares totaled 621 points in 669 games with the Islanders since he was drafted in 2009. 

Tags: John Tavares
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May 23, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; Washington Capitals head coach Berry Trotz talks with media after game seven of the Eastern Conference Final in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
May 23, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; Washington Capitals head coach Berry Trotz talks with media after game seven of the Eastern Conference Final in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

It's a time for genuine optimism around the Islanders despite captain John Tavares signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs on a seven-year deal with an average annual value of $11 million.

The team hired a new GM and president of hockey operations, Hall of Famer Lou Lamoriello then hired reigning Stanley Cup champion head coach Barry Trotz. The team is rife with young talent, including Calder Trophy-winning Mathew Barzal, and will continue to take steps forward, even without Tavares.

"I know it's a big blow and everyone has the sky falling, but we're a young team," Trotz said...

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New York Islanders left wing Brock Nelson (Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders left wing Brock Nelson (Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports)

Islanders F Brock Nelson has filed for arbitration, as the NHLPA announces the league-wide list. His qualifying offer is $3.5 million.

Nelson, 26, had 35 points (19 goals, 16 assists) last season. He was a first-round pick (30th overall) in 2010. He's scored at least 14 goals in each of his five professional seasons and has missed just two games in the last four years. 

He has the highest qualifying offer among the five Islanders. 

Qualifying offers are issued to restricted free agents whose team wishes to retain their negotiation rights.

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Mar 29, 2018; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner (40) looks to make a save during the first period against the Detroit Red Wings at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports (Timothy T. Ludwig)
Mar 29, 2018; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner (40) looks to make a save during the first period against the Detroit Red Wings at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports (Timothy T. Ludwig)

After most of the free agent goaltenders had come off the free agent board (Carter Hutton, Jonathan Bernier, Petr Mrazek, among others), the name of Robin Lehner stood out as the best available one for the Islanders to sign on a low-risk, one-year deal. On Tuesday, Erik Karlsson was all the rage and then the Islanders traded for prodigal son Matt Martin, so my plans to write about Lehner got put on the back burner.

When the Islanders signed him on Tuesday afternoon, I laughed out loud…and liked the move even more.

With the Islanders having so many tough, fearless, edgy fourth-line forwards in the fold, why not add the equivalent in goal? The Islanders may not be the most skilled team next season, but you can't blame Lou Lamoriello for "making it look mean."

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Feb 28, 2018; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) during the third period against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
		 (Jean-Yves Ahern)
Feb 28, 2018; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) during the third period against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports (Jean-Yves Ahern)

Islanders GM and president Lou Lamoriello saw franchise player John Tavares walk out the door last week, but says the Isles did everything in their power to prevent it.

"We did everything we possibly could to keep John," Lamoriello said Thursday on Sirius XM NHL radio. "He's a quality player. He's now with another team. That's the past."

Tavares bolted the Isles for his hometown Maple Leafs, while also passing on joining the Sharks, Bruins, and others. And with Tavares gone, the Isles should be on a three-year plan as they prepare for their new arena, says SNY contributor Chris Botta...

Tags: John Tavares
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Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of the ice before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 17, 2017; Uniondale, NY, USA; General view of the ice before a game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at NYCB Live at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The Islanders now have two former Capitals coaches on their staff for next season.

The team announced Lane Lambert will reunite with head coach Barry Trotz as an associate coach on his staff.

Lambert held the very same role under Trotz last season during the Capitals' Stanely Cup run. He spent four seasons with Washington after coaching three seasons with the Predators as an assistant. 

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Jan 22, 2018; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Matt Martin (15) shoots the puck against the Colorado Avalanche at Air Canada Centre. The Avalanche beat the Maple Leafs 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports (Tom Szczerbowski)
Jan 22, 2018; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Matt Martin (15) shoots the puck against the Colorado Avalanche at Air Canada Centre. The Avalanche beat the Maple Leafs 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports (Tom Szczerbowski)

The acquisition of Matt Martin makes little sense, and -- on the heels of Lou Lamoriello's free agent signings so far -- raises more concerns about the plans of new management. 

I love it.

Welcome back, Matt.

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Mar 24, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark (35) warms up after replacing starter Robin Lehner (40) during the second period against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports (Danny Wild)
Mar 24, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark (35) warms up after replacing starter Robin Lehner (40) during the second period against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports (Danny Wild)

The Islanders agreed to terms on Tuesday with goaltender Robin Lehner on a one-year contract.

Lehner had a .908 save percentage and 3.01 goals-against average in 53 games last season with the Sabres.

Lehner, who is from Sweden, was drafted in the second round of the 2009 draft.

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Mar 8, 2018; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson (65) skates with the puck in the third period against the Buffalo Sabres at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY (Marc DesRosiers)
Mar 8, 2018; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson (65) skates with the puck in the third period against the Buffalo Sabres at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY (Marc DesRosiers)

After the gut-punch of the loss of John Tavares on Sunday, anyone could understand the desire to rebound. Who among us hasn't been dumped, only to dream of bouncing back with someone just as dazzling?

Otherwise, count me in the minority when it comes to clamoring for the Islanders to make a trade for Erik Karlsson. The Islanders will inquire, and would be right to investigate, but it is not the right move at this time for the club. The reasons...

The Price

Tags: John Tavares, Josh Ho-Sang, Chris Botta
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Matt Martin (15) Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports (Isaiah J. Downing)
Matt Martin (15) Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports (Isaiah J. Downing)

Forward Matt Martin is returning to Long Island. 

The Islanders made a deal with the Maple Leafs to send G Eamon McAdam in return for Martin, who they drafted in the fifth round back in 2008. In the deal, the Islanders are taking on Martin's $2.5 million he is owed this season and the 2019-2020 season as well.

Martin played seven seasons for the Islanders, where he totaled 88 points (42 goals, 46 assists) in that span. Even more impressive was winning five straight Bob Nystrom Awards, which goes to the Islander that best exemplifies leadership, hustle and dedication.

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Isles fans angry over Tavares 00:01:34
Islanders fans give their reactions to the news of John Tavares signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Islanders fans called in to SNY en masse to bid John Tavares farewell.

Some were furious with Tavares, some understood his decision, and others had vitriol for ownership and departed GM Garth Snow.

What are your feelings about Tavares bolting for Toronto?

Tags: John Tavares
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Anders Lee (27) Mathew Barzal (13) Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)
Anders Lee (27) Mathew Barzal (13) Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports (Raj Mehta)

Isles Country was devastated to see John Tavares decide to take his talents home and play for the Toronto Maple Leafs next season. And though fans may see only darkness ahead for the Islanders, NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire believes there to be light at the end of the tunnel. 

After analyzing the process Tavares took during his interview period that led up to his ultimate decision, McGuire understood why Tavares decided to fulfill his "childhood dream" to play for the Leafs instead of the organization that drafted him first overall back in 2009. 

"I'm not surprised," McGuire told SNY. "When you grow up in a Canadian city and you grew up dreaming about playing for that team whether it'd be Montreal or Vancouver or Toronto, that's a hard thing to not want to foresee or go through. So I understood that part of it after the fact."

Tags: Anders Lee, John Tavares, Mathew Barzal, Scott Thompson
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Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Tom Kuhnhackl handles the puck against New Jersey Devils defenseman Will Butcher during the second period at PPG PAINTS Arena. (Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports)
Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Tom Kuhnhackl handles the puck against New Jersey Devils defenseman Will Butcher during the second period at PPG PAINTS Arena. (Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports)

The Islanders announced they signed five players, including former Pittsburgh Penguins forward Thomas Kuhnhackl, on Monday.

New York re-signed goaltender Christopher Gibson to a two-year, two-way deal, and also announced it signed Seth Helgeson to a two-year deal, Mike Sislo to a one-year deal and Matt Lorito to a two-year deal with the first year being a two-way one.

Kuhnhackl, 26, totaled two goals and six assists in 69 games for the Penguins last season, and has recorded 11 goals and 28 assists since entering the league three seasons ago.

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John Tavares (91) Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
John Tavares (91) Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

On the day after, as the Islanders turn the page after the most soul-sucking moment for the club and Country in this century, some thoughts as we await Lou Lamoriello's next move…

Lamoriello did not agree to run the Islanders because he was convinced Tavares was staying with the team

Take this to the bank: Lamoriello's decision to tackle this major project did not come down to whether one great player was going to re-sign with his team. His life in the game has always been about the image of "team," not "individual" accomplishments. If anything, Tavares' defection should only further energize the new boss. If this is to be Lamoriello's final act in the game, what better way to close a magnificent career than with the complete exorcism of a team haunted by three decades of mismanagement?

Tags: John Tavares, Chris Botta
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Feb 19, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Christopher Gibson (33) warms up before a game against the Minnesota Wild at Barclays Center. Gibson was added to the roster this morning when goalie Thomas Greiss was placed on IR. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Feb 19, 2018; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Christopher Gibson (33) warms up before a game against the Minnesota Wild at Barclays Center. Gibson was added to the roster this morning when goalie Thomas Greiss was placed on IR. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The Islanders extended G Christopher Gibson for another two years, the team announced Monday.

Gibson signed a two-way deal worth $650,000 in the NHL and $225,000 in the AHL next season, and for the 2019-2020 season, his pay increases to $700,000 and $250,000 respectively. 

Tags: Christopher Gibson, Scott Thompson
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Mar 3, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) looks on against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period at PPG PAINTS Arena. The Penguins won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)
Mar 3, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) looks on against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period at PPG PAINTS Arena. The Penguins won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)

John Tavares asked the Islanders not to trade him during the season. He then flirted with five other teams before bolting the Isles for his hometown Maple Leafs. 

Maybe the Islanders never had a chance to lure Tavares back, with the dream of playing for the Leafs trumping anything the Isles could've done to convince him to stay.

What was your initial reaction to the news? How do you think Tavares handled the decision? What will you miss the most about him? Where do the Isles go from here? 

Tags: John Tavares
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Tavares not returning to Isles 00:02:46
Chris Botta breaks down what the future holds for the New York Islanders after John Tavares' decision to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

As the confusion, sadness and anger sets in with the news that the days of John Tavares as a New York Islander have come to an end, it is constructive to accept the magnitude of the loss.

While he fulfills what he has described as a "childhood dream" to play for the Maple Leafs, Tavares' departure is the latest (and hopefully final) massive blow to the reputation of the Islanders organization -- as big a blow as any New York sports team has endured since free agency first came to baseball five decades ago.

This absolutely a stain on the franchise -- the final piece of the legacy of former general manager Garth Snow, with blame shared by the refusal of current owners Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky to do anything for two years to upgrade a miserable organization.

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Mar 27, 2018; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators left wing Tom Pyatt (10) defends against New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) in the third period at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)
Mar 27, 2018; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators left wing Tom Pyatt (10) defends against New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) in the third period at Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)

Former Islanders captain John Tavares wrote goodbye letters to the Islanders organization and their fans after he decided to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The 27-year-old Tavares spent all of his first nine career seasons with the Islanders dating back to 2009-10 when he was 19 years old.

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New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. (Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. (Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports)

The Islanders announced they re-signed defenseman Thomas Hickey to a four-year deal on Sunday.

Hickey, 29, had five goals and a personal-best 25 assists last season.

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New York Islanders center John Tavares skates against the New Jersey Devils during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 31, 2018, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez/AP)
New York Islanders center John Tavares skates against the New Jersey Devils during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 31, 2018, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez/AP)

Islanders captain John Tavares has signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs on a seven-year deal with an average annual value of $11 million.

The Islanders had extended an eight-year offer to Tavares on Saturday afternoon, reports Arthur Staple of The Athletic. But on Sunday morning, he informed the team of his decision not to return.

The Islanders were expected frontrunners to re-sign the veteran center.

Tags: John Tavares
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Philadelphia Flyers center Valtteri Filppula (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)
Philadelphia Flyers center Valtteri Filppula (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)

The Islanders announced they signed forward Valtteri Filppula to a one-year deal on Sunday.

Filppula, 34, totaled 11 goals and 22 assists in 81 games for the Philadelphia Flyers last season.

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