Got to give it to Islanders fans, they are damn passionate bunch. They desperately want to have this team and fortunes turn a corner so quickly. It’s why that start got hyped and overrated to the gills, and a 3 game slide is now a virtual apocalypse.
It is why news of a trade for the Bruins for Tim Thomas, who will never see the NY Islanders net gets so out of whack to fan expectations. He’s not going to play, he will never see the ice, the deal is just a financial CBA strategy piece. It only costs the Isles a 2nd rounder in 2013 or 2014 IF they deal him or play him. Something neither is likely to happen, though it does give a bit of insurance if they do choose to toll his contract to have a starter if Nabokov leaves and/or kids not ready next season.
Back in the Fall/Winter I tweeted and wrote about how with the new CBA we would see much more NBA-like deals where cap relief and cap floor items would become tradable commodities. We will see quite a bit of this come trade deadline or at least during the summer.
The Islanders, as I warned, are a cap floor team this year. Sure, they now have a venue solved, but that was long after a free agent period and how many deals for players do you see going on? As I’ve said for a while now, they will only spend cash on key items and roles, looking for talent but as reasonable cost.
They will not just blow wads of cash for those players who are not deemed as clear improvements or upgrades. it is why the Islanders ignore those waiver or offers to push $$ pieces lime Tim Connolly and go for depth improvements like Keith Aucoin instead.
Can anyone say that was a bad idea in lieu of how they have done since? But god, the drama and melodrama from Isles fans at the time of the armchair GMs and coaches.
What does the Tim Thomas trade do the the Islanders since they were already at the cap floor, you ask? Well, that is easy…
Cap floor insurance. If Garth, who desperately would love to be a buyer this trade deadline with a playoff spot competing team, is to deal any vets, whether it is a rental like Visnovsky, the “when” and options are thrown off because the Islanders need to remain cap compliant. It means they don’t have to take a bad contract back just to stay there. Do you know how many teams are going to try to deal bad contracts come trade deadline??? Just wait and see.
Then there is the curious case of Captain Mark Streit, who becomes a free agent having had a 5 year deal come to a close on Long Island. But how does Garth meet his price and desire for another long tenure when so many defensive prospects are about to come up? The defense will see Calvin de Haan, Griffin Reinhart, Matt Donovan, Aaron Ness, Scott Mayfield, and much more. In three years does Streit even fit on their blueline?
If Streit is looking for something reasonable he will re-sign a shorter deal. But it is much more likely that Streit’s best asset for the Isles is his value to other teams, especially contenders needing a key powerplay and 40-50pt a regular season guy for a playoff run.
Well, if both Visnovsky and Streit were to go, not a firesale by any means, the Islanders need to remain to above the cap floor. That’s heavy money gone.
That’s where the Tim Thomas deal comes in. It assures that if this is to be an eventuality, the Isles do not to eat stupid fat contacts for mediocre players which would get in the way of future options. It removes that and lets Garth focus on best value for any commodities that he and the braintrust deem expendable via asset for talent or picks in a highly anticipated draft.
Yes, we will hear the incessant clamor of why didn’t Garth just get some mediocre player to shore up an offensive or defensive role? What how many of these are currently being dealt right now? Moreover, are they even worth the cost?
Garth thinks not, and it is why Thomas for a conditional pick that will never be charged because he will never play. It costs them absolutely nothing and solves that issue. Bruins get cap relief, Isles get cap insurance. A trade happened that merely places Thomas’s contract on Isles books. These type of book trades are not loopholes or cap violation attempts. This is the new NHL that the NBA has been doing for a while… where book keeping/cap items/relief are now pieces to ferment a trade. Some bloggers call it a scam, but they just aren’t familiar that this is a normal course of business in other sports, merely first being used via the NHL. Contracts equal value, contracts, even if not playing, will be dealt to make sure cap floor is met or to make sure teams remain under the cap floor.
You will see more of these type of deals before next season, I guarantee it. This is just the beginning: Isles & Bruins just happen to do it first.
About the Author: B.D. Gallof is a published writer and hockey blogger. He writes about Hockey, NY Islanders & the NY Islanders venue situation for CBS New York. BD has been written up in Sports Illustrated, TSN.ca, the NY Times Slapshots blog, Yahoo's Sports and SportsBusiness Journal. He has been a featured blogger for The Huffington Post, as well as owner, lead writer, and managing editor at HockeyIndependent.com.