This season’s flying by. Although it may feel like the lockout is long gone, the NHL season’s end is close and we have the lockout to blame. Under normal circumstances, the 30-game mark is just over one-third of the season, but instead we’re talking about the final third of the season. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had a lot of fun watching hockey in 2013, and I am much happier that the NHL made any kind of return. It’s just disappointing that we have to miss out on so much more.
Anyways, a shortened season means that the trade deadline comes sooner. It’s actually one week away. On April 3rd, teams will have their final opportunity to make a deal with others for one last push towards the playoffs, or to begin gearing up for the future.
There are, of course, many questions for the Islanders as the trade deadline approaches. Certainly, the team isn’t amazing. The team has its holes, but whether or not they decide to patch them remains to be seen.
Snow’s critics and supporters aside, Garth will be making a few calls, but also has to concentrate on what’s at stake. Does he trade away the guys with expiring contracts, or does he keep them like he did with Parenteau last season? Does he send a few prospects off the Island in return for another player? Is it worth trading for a rental? Who’s available, and what is realistic from an Islanders stand-point?
Let’s take a look at the upcoming trade deadline for the Islanders through my eyes.
Who do they have?
I’m going to start with the Islanders active roster. Evgeni Nabokov, Lubomir Visnovsky, Brad Boyes, and Mark Streit are all headed to unrestricted free agency at the end of the season. There is plenty of speculation that each one could be moved, especially since each player has something they can offer to inquiring teams.
Evgeni Nabokov is a former 40-game-winner, and currently has earned 15 wins in 2013. Despite his very pedestrian save percentage and goals-against-average, his 15 wins amount for all of the Islanders wins this season. Despite the Islanders poor defensive numbers, Nabby holds onto a winning record,
Visnovsky and Streit have arguably been the Islanders top-two defensemen this season. Both have provided a major boost in production for the Islanders defense, which scored only 19 goals last season. Streit (5-11-16) is 6th on the Isles in scoring, and Lubo (3-6-9) has been the Isles second-highest producing defenseman on the team, albeit missing 12 games on the year. Streit and Lubo have shared power-play quarterback duties, and have boosted this team’s power-play to 6th in the NHL (22.2%).
Then there’s also Brad Boyes, who has taken over the first-line duties made available by PA Parenteau’s departure. Although two-way hockey hasn’t been his strong-suit (-12), Boyes has provided enough offense to make the decision to let PAP walk acceptable. Boyes (8-19-27) is third on the Islanders in scoring through 33 games. PAP (6-22-28) has had one more point that Boyes did through 33 games last season, but the first-line really hasn’t missed a beat. John Tavares and Matt Moulson are on career-paces, and Brad Boyes has benefited in a career-resurrection.
Other players that may be looked at? Josh Bailey is a restricted free agent who DOES have talent. He just has to put it to use. Josh can fit as a third-line winger on any of my teams, but it would be nice if he could get on the score-sheet a few more times.
Kyle Okposo is also of interest, I’m sure, but he’s heavily underachieving. The guy works hard, though, and even in an off year, Kyle is at least finding the assist column. He’s 3-11-14, but Kyle needs to score more goals.
For all of those who really want to bring back value, though, you would have to consider moving Michael Grabner. I’m not saying do it, nor am I saying I want him gone, but as BD Gallof suggested, the only way to get that piece you really want, the Isles are going to have to send at least one NHL-player. Grabner fits that bill more than anyone else. A goal-scorer who creates opportunities for himself, Grabs can be valuable to any team. His failures and successes are up to him.
Will they make a move, though?
Ah, but of course. That is the real question. Will the Islanders make a move?
Well, they certainly have the ammunition to make a move. That said move just has to make sense. The Islanders aren’t going to trade away any of the aforementioned players in the midst of a playoff hunt for draft picks. It’s not going to happen.
Nabby, Lubo, Streit, and Boyes may all be valuable to other teams, but those other teams will need to overpay if they want to acquire them. That’s fair. If the Islanders were bottom-five, I would say salvage what you can, but this season isn’t like any other season. Come April 3rd, the Islanders may actually be in the playoffs. Losing one of those four players wouldn’t be addition by subtraction, as they are too valuable to this team.
I’m not saying anyone cannot be shipped out, though. Perhaps Streit or Lubo gets moved for a high pick. That only happens if one is re-signed before the deadline, though. The Islanders may also swing another deal such as the Rolston and Mottau to Boston deal. Perhaps Marty Reasoner is sent out for future considerations in order to open up a spot for, say, Brock Nelson.
It should be understood that it’s not the time and place to trade for a ten-game rental, though. Not at a high-cost, anyways. If the Islanders are going to part with their first round pick + prospects, it’s got to be for a guy that is going to stay on the Island past April, possibly May. The Islanders simply are not in the position to do that. This isn’t Pittsburgh, where they have their team set for the next several years. The Islanders aren’t Cup contenders just yet, nor are they at the point where they can make this type of move and be fine next season. They just aren’t.
If they were to make a move, who’s a possible target?
In the past week, we have seen a couple of trades. The Penguins acquired Doug Murray for two second-round draft picks, and they acquired Brenden Morrow for prospect Joe Morrow, a 2011 first-round draft pick. Last night, the Penguins acquired Jarome Iginla for more prospects and their first-round pick. Again, the Islanders cannot afford to trade part of their near future for a guy who is going to play on the Island for just a few weeks.
There are certainly players out there who may be a fit on the Island, though. Keep in mind; the Islanders do not have a 2nd-round pick in this upcoming draft.
If they wanted to go the affordable rental route, the Islanders could look into Derek Roy in Dallas. Roy may be worth more than a 3rd-round pick in the eyes of the Stars, but it’s Joe Nieuwendyk at the helm over there, so you never know.
Roy would fix the Islanders hole at centre on the second-line, and possibly give Michael Grabner a centre that can work with him. By doing so, the Islanders can make a push for the playoffs with a former 80-point scorer (currently 4-16-20 through 27 games), while allowing Brock Nelson and the other centres to continue developing in the AHL.
Another target could be Ladislav Smid, a young, physical defenseman out of Edmonton. He is slated for unrestricted free agency at the end of the season, but at 27-years of age, he may be the shut-down defenseman the Islanders have been looking for. He loves to block shots, and loves to make hits in the defensive zone. A second-round pick (we don’t have) or a second-tier prospect is all that it would probably take to pry him off the Oilers’ hands. Depending on the prospect, the Islanders can make this trade an re-sign Smid for a salary around $3.5 million. per.
If the Islanders really wanted to go all in, Ales Hemsky rumors are also heating up. A bit over-paid, Hemsky will be making $5 million in each of the next two seasons. I want to put emphasis on the two years because the Islanders would get another look at Hemsky next season. Hemsky (8-10-18 through 31 games) is talented, but oft-injured. He may come at a cheaper price than one would think, although the Oilers will probably want something.
Two teams the Islanders may want to keep their eyes on should be the Florida Panthers and the San Jose Sharks. I’m not suggesting they’re going to make a huge trade, but there may be a fire-sale coming in both places. Florida will be looking to ship out some of their bad contracts from last summer (I suggest ignoring), and the Sharks may be looking to re-tool as it appears their team has finally maxed out. Would the Islanders swing a deal if, say, Jumbo Joe Thornton were to be made available? Probably not, but players like Ryan Clowe, who can provide some size and grit on the Islanders front-nine may get a look. Clowe hasn’t scored a single goal this season after scoring a combined 41 goals in the past two seasons.
My dream scenario….
If you really wanted me to go out there and make my dream trade, I would ask for the Islanders to acquire Jonathan Bernier from the Los Angeles Kings. Although we love Evgeni Nabokov here on the Island, he frustrates the hell out of me. Bernier would, in theory, make all of the Islanders goaltending woes go away, and give the Islanders their goalie of the future.
I would say a 1st round pick (I’d trade it for a goalie that would stay for the long-term), one of Poulin or Nilsson, and any prospect not named Strome, Nino, Griffin, or Brock, would get it done. I’m not a GM, though, so don’t come after me. I could be totally wrong about his value. I think it’s fair, though, especially seeing what’s going on in Vancouver, and what LA has in Jonathan Quick.
At the end of the day
I don’t expect too much to happen at the deadline. The Islanders are in a situation where they have an average team. If they trade away their expiring contracts for draft picks, they’re worse off. If they can package them for a player that can help, great. They cannot mortgage the future because it’s not worth it.
I would love to see if Garth can get creative at the deadline. I see him making a deal or two, but it may not be the “big one.” Not yet.
Let’s see what the trade deadline brings. One week to go, and the Islanders aren’t necessarily buyers or sellers. It should be interesting.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment.
Filed Under: New York Islanders
About the Author: Writes at Islanders Op-Timism. Islanders Season Ticket Holder who tends to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hofstra Graduate currently working at Portnoy, Messinger, Pearl & Associates. I definitely want to end up working within the world of hockey. Blog: www.IslandersOptimism.com E-Mail: ChristopherTriantafilis@gmail.com Twitter: @ChrisTriants