The New York Islanders named assistant Lane Lambert their new head coach and replacement for Barry Trotz on Monday morning. The Islanders and Trotz parted ways on May 9, so it only took one week for Lou Lamoriello to find a replacement. Lambert served as an assistant under Trotz while with the Washington Capitals when the team won the Stanley Cup back in 2018.
Lambert has a lot of work to do. Well, more so his work cut out for him. The Islanders will retain mostly the same roster that underperformed in 2021-22. After going to the Conference Finals in back-to-back seasons under Trotz, the Isles finished 37-35-10 with 84 points, good for fifth in the Metro division, missing the postseason. Lambert was associate coach, so this transition should be pretty seamless, which is a plus for the team.
What isn’t a plus for the team is the cap situation and the roster overall. The Isles lack top-end talent and have 13 forwards under contract for 2022-23, so there isn’t much wiggle room in terms of improvement. Most of that will have to come internally. The Isles will need players like Anthony Beauvillier, Mat Barzal and Oliver Wahlstrom to take steps forward, plus the veterans need to stay healthy.
The defense will get the biggest overhaul. Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech and Scott Mayfield are under contract. Noah Dobson should get a bridge contract as a RFA and he’ll be the fourth on the blue line. Zdeno Chara and Andy Greene will be gone. That opens up a few spots where New York can improve on defense. Trading Devon Toews was a mistake. Look for the Islanders to be aggressive in free agency finding another top D or in the trade market.
The one bright spot on the roster is goalie Ilya Sorokin, who will likely be a Vezina caliber goaltender for most of his prime. Sorokin is only 26 years old and is under contract through the 2023-24 season.