Toronto Maple Leafs Lose Out on Horvat, But Islanders Make Smart Move

The Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t get Bo Horvat, the Islanders did.

But given the cost, one must assume the Toronto Maple Leafs just were not interested.

The Islanders gave up a protected first, a former second rounder, and a nothing player the Canucks will likely flip.

The Leafs easily could have met this price, but didn’t.  That means we can only assume they value other players more.  Hopefully Timo Meier, as that is the best player widely assumed to be available.

While my initial reaction to this trade was incredulous – why would the Islanders, a fringe team, bother with this move?

Then I thought about it, and as much as I loathe to credit Lou Lamoriello, this was a really smart, fantastic trade for the Islanders.

Toronto Maple Leafs Miss Out, Islanders Land Big Fish

The Islanders could miss the playoffs.

They could also make them, and then all bets are off.

You see, as much as we salivate over players like Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, a goalie is more valuable.  Which team has the best goalie? Hard to say, but the Islanders have one of the only guys in competition for the title.

Not only do the Islanders have one of the NHL’s most valuable players in their net, they also play a game that routinely sees upsets due to the outsized importance of a single player (i.e the goalie).

The cost here is negligible.  Mid-round firsts almost always turn into nothing.  Even if it does, so what.  This team would take several years to tear down and build back up.  If the owners wanted that, maybe they wouldn’t have an 80 year old GM?

Look at the Toronto Maple Leafs. They rebuild the right way, and still went seven years with no success, despite being a .630 team for four years (incredibly rare).

There are no guarantees in the NHL, but if you have one of the top goalies, it is never a bad idea to go for it.  I find it weird how risk-adverse the major commentators of this sport are, especially when you consider that the annual playoff tournament has so much variance.

In a cap league, the best teams aren’t as good as you think, and the medium teams are way closer to them than is widely acknowledged.  The Islanders risk almost nothing to add a top player to go along with their elite goalie.

The fact that this aggressive and fun move isn’t more celebrated is actually just depressing.  Lou Lamoriello has made an excellent move, and if the Leafs don’t win, I hope it works out for him.