It’s an Isles Trade Deadline Preview

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.

Follow @ChrisTriants

Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment.

 

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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

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  1. Jethro09 says:

    I like the thought of trading for Bernier. It would be hard to swallow the 2013 first rounder and Poulin/Nilsson, but you can’t win a cup without top end goaltending and Bernier is supposed to be the real deal. He’d be the undisputed #1 on the Island.

    • ChrisTriants says:

      It would certainly be interesting. He has been outstanding in LA since he’s been playing over there. First rounder would be hard to swallow, but if he could get us into the playoffs, it wouldn’t be a lottery pick. Remember: all teams who don’t make the playoffs have a shot at the #1 pick, making it slightly more valuable.

      Also, something tells me the Isles aren’t all that high on Poulin. With Koskinen playing well in Finland and DiPietro getting all of the starts in Bridgeport, I find it surprising that Poulin is just being sat for all of this time. Just a thought.

      Thanks for the comment. They’re always appreciated!

      • KO21 says:

        The fact that Poulin is just sitting there collecting dust is bad for his prospects. He was supposed to be one of our possible goalies of the future. If that’s the case then why isn’t he perfecting his game?

        Oh, wait, I forgot…DP is getting all the starts at Bridgeport. So hes still holding the future back

        • ChrisTriants says:

          I’m not disagreeing with you. It puts into question whether or not the Islanders are as high on Poulin as many thought they were. It appears they are still trying to get DP to regain his form. If it happens, good for him, but it shouldn’t be the plan. I thought Poulin would be playing more here. Again, perhaps they aren’t as high on him as we once thought. Otherwise, it makes literally zero sense to have him riding the bench, something DP was doing in the first place.

  2. justin says:

    The only thing snow will be trading is a box of oreos for a box of hydrox (they taste the same but are cheaper). He might also pick-up the rights to a box of twinkies. He won’t eat them but they still count against the salary cap.

    • ChrisTriants says:

      Thanks for the input. If it reduces concession prices, I’m all for it. This team has enough talent to make the playoffs without a deal involving players anyways.

      • KO21 says:

        They have about a 20% chance of making the playoffs because of the Bettman loser point. I wish they would do away with that for good.

        • ChrisTriants says:

          I’d prefer going back to ties, and 0 points for an overtime loss.

          • justin says:

            Seriously – getting rid of reasoner will be addition by subtraction. I’m OK with Zeeker as C3 and Aucoin as C4. If Nelson comes up to create lines 3A and 3B so much the better. Best would be if Snow can make a sensible trade to fill the C3 slot with an experienced guy who can stick around for a few seasons and help this team grow up..wonder what David Legwand would cost?

          • RobJ74 says:

            agreed

  3. ChrisTriants says:

    justin,

    Reasoner would be addition by subtraction. That would allow the Islanders to either bring up someone from the AHL, or give Joensuu some playing time.

    I don’t know if the third-line centre spot is as much the problem in comparison tot he second, mainly because I feel Frans will slide right into that role. Frans could be moved within the next season, though, and I would be fine with seeing Cizikas or Nelson take that spot.

    Legwand would be very interesting. Basically a legend in Nashville, but as we’ve seen, every player can be moved. If anything, he would certainly be an upgrade over Reasoner, who has occupied that C3 spot this season. Anyone who can be productive in Reasoner’s spot will be an upgrade, so keep an eye out for that.

  4. justin says:

    In my opinion Franz has been good and that line has been good since they became the “shut down” line. If we have 3 strong lines after the beast line it doesn’t bother me if we don’t have a true #2. In my dream scenario that I outlined above, however, Legwand is #2, Franz #3 and Zeeker #4. That’s a playoff caliber stable of centers.

  5. justin says:

    In my opinion Franz has been good and that line has been good since they became the “shut down” line. If we have 3 strong lines after the beast line it doesn’t bother me if we don’t have a true #2. Unfortunately that will never be the case if Reasoner and/or Aucoin are the other guys. In my dream scenario that I outlined above, however, Legwand is #2, Franz #3 and Zeeker #4. That’s a playoff caliber stable of centers.

    • ChrisTriants says:

      Oh absolutely. Frans has been great in a shutdown role. Terrible on face-offs, but outstanding when taking on the opposition’s top forwards. Reasoner and Aucoin are probably both out after this season, so I wouldn’t worry about depth afterwards. The Islanders have a lot going for them. Their demise is greatly exaggerated.

  6. RobJ74 says:

    Where are the bloggers, matt&dan to trash the Isles now? lol

    • ChrisTriants says:

      They’re on Twitter! I’m sure they’re good people. Haven’t met them yet, but I’m sure they’re good people. Just 100% different views on these sort of things ;)