January Blues.

Isles are probably out for this season. Meh. It happens. That's hockey. Certainly throws off "the plan" but who knows--maybe Lou is such the Hockey mastermind, this was all accounted for in the plan. 

Unlike everyone else in interwebs land, I'm not panicking here. This is a playoff team under normal circumstances. Everyone else in the Metro division is having an up season while the Isles dealt with the new arena opening and unfortunate timing with COVID. Pittsburgh and Washington will not sustain next season and Boston is already falling off. Rangers are also getting some serious puck luck (really Krieder?) and decent goaltending so bully for them. They will still get killed in the playoffs by Florida/Carolina/Tampa Bay.

So where does that leave the Isles. We're out this season and that is ok. Really, I believe it's Carolina's year anyway. so let's look at where they are at as a team.

Dobson's fine as a puck moving defenseman (PMD). Guy is a stud and reminds me of another defenseman from another era (only Dobby is smaller). He has a great shot and show great flair when QB'ing the powerplay. Mayfield's fine and his contract is awesome. I like him anyway. Good mix of grit and aside from the random bad penalty, also shows flashes of great offensive flair. Pulock and Pelech (All-Star recognition finally) are fine and arguably the top pair for awhile. Would be great to get Pulock back to unload some blue line bobms again. Hutton and Salo (who will also be a PMD) are almost ready for prime time and clearly waiting in the wings. Greene and Chara are slow but they're helping along the young defensemen this season. Despite Chara's tough start, both are steady and who doesn't love Chara's sticking up for teammates. I expect both to retire at the end of the season but who knows--both Chara and Greene probably knows how close this group is.

Wally and Bellows are going to be fine (though Bellows may be trade bait at this point). Parise is definitely staying another season. That guys is a horse. I wish I had his energy when I was his age. This Raty kid is going to make noise next season.I think he makes the team. Holmstrom is getting there but maybe a couple seasons away. Czarnik looks completely serviceable as a fill in and Johnston is not going anywhere. Bailey ain't going anywhere either (get over it Bailey haters) and Brock is legit one of the best on the team. Captain America is staying put.

They really need a right wing. For Barzy. It was a mistake to leave Eberle exposed. He was sneaky good and had some chemistry with Barzy. I get the whole Czikas deal and Clutter has been good this seaosn, but losing Eberle has put the blender on full tilt. That and Palms is not panning out. I, like everyone else, expected way more but now I expect him to be on the block. Beau is on the bubble and to me, the X factor.

Goalies are not going anywhere unless we get one back. There is nothing in the system that is close to ready to be a backup and Sorokin is not going to work 60 games. That is just not how that works anymore. I know there is a couple out there but that is a dying concept.

In short--They'll not be selling hard at the deadline but maybe a move or two in the off season. Really need that "guy" for Barzy. I suspect there is no chemistry what-so-ever between Barzy and Wally which is why you don't see them together. Beau and Barzy do have chemistry but that seems to put a lot of defensive liability on the top line and we all know how Trotz does not like that. I see he tried to move Lee down for a game but Lee and Barzy at least know where the other is going to be (Lee in front of the net or in the corner and Barzy just about everywhere else).

Speaking of Trotz, lot's of grumbling from the faux coaches/GM's out there on the interwebs wanting heads as such. I think he's safe as he and Lou appear to be lock step in thier thinking. I expect an extension for Trotz and nothing suggests a walk a-la Washington. Even if, I could see Lane Lambert getting his first job just because of the coaching philosphy being so similar to Trotz's. I would hate to see Mitch Korn go as he and Peiro Greco are the best in the goalie business. Who else would go in there as head coach? Babcock? Torts? (!).Nope, I see Lou keeping the management team intact working the previously mentioned 5 year plan. 

So--TLDR; expect few changes next season. Maybe a piece or two if the price is right. Forget the whole "Isles are sellers" at the deadline. That has never been Lou's modus operandi and frankly there is nothing to sell. The Isles are not in "burn it all down" mode yet so the window is open for next season and maybe one more after that. It appears that the guy Pat is back in the room.