The Islanders continue to struggle in the early part of the 2013-14 season, last in the Metropolitan division and having a better record than only the Buffalo Sabres in the entire National Hockey League.
But let’s not rehash what we already know. It gets redundant and does nobody any good. It is the Christmas season after all.
And that means the season of giving. Spending time with those most important to us and spreading cheer and good wishes to everyone. Putting selfishness and stubbornness aside and thinking of others.
That is what I am encouraging every NHL general manager in the entire league to do when it comes to the Islanders. Help a brother out and send not only some good wishes our way but players. And I have decided to help out in that regard by putting together my Christmas wish list for all 29 teams around the league.
Now, of course, with the trade market being so overpriced the likelihood of something getting done is slim at best. And even if a trade was to occur, I am pretty positive that #islestwitter would find something wrong with it anyway. But there were some pretty interesting results that came out of our Islanders survivor home edition so at least we now have a good idea on who the fanbase would not mind being shipped the other way in a package.
After watching ‘The Polar Express’,'The Grinch’ (Jim Carrey edition),’A Christmas Carol’ (animated) and just most recently ‘Christmas Vacation’ I am certainly in the spirit so I would hope the feeling would be reciprocated.Don’t forget the holiday roster freeze this year is in effect December 19-December 27.
Due to post length, this will be split into two conferences, taking a look at the Eastern first.
Patrice Bergeron : Would be the absolute perfect center for the Islanders. Could easily slot into Frans Neilsen’s role without hesitation, offering a slightly higher offensive game to go along with Selke quality defensive zone coverage. At 59% on faceoffs this year, a huge Achilles heel for the Islanders, that alone might be worth it.
Mikhail Grigorenko : The 19-year-old is going to be an offensive dynamo in the league. Could bring the same level of excitement that Zigmund Palffy used to when he darted around the Coliseum ice wearing #16. At 6’3, 209 lbs would add much-needed size to an offensive unit that is severely lacking in that department.
Detroit Red Wings
Niklas Kronwall : The 6’0, 192 pound defenseman from Sweden would be exactly what New York could use now. A heavy clean punishing hitter who would invoke memories of Darius Kasparitis when he used to terrorize opponent forwards in the defensive zone. Kronwall is more of an extension with a number of his body checks coming in the neutral zone.
Dmitry Kulikov : There have been whispers of Kulikov being available via trade from the Panthers. Louder than that have been questions about his character both on and off the ice, primarily his willingness to lay it on the line each and every night. I am sure that is a big red flag for Garth Snow but at age 23, this is certainly a talented player who would help the depleted and overworked defense.
P.K. Subban : Do I really need to explain this decision? Just wrap him up in a bow and deliver him to 1255 Hempstead Turnpike. Do not put a ‘Do not open until Christmas’ tag on him and we are all set to go.
Bobby Ryan : A lot of Islanders fans and perhaps most of the mainstream and non-mainstream media have clamored for Ryan for some time now. When it was made clear that he would be dealt by the Anaheim Ducks, I know I had my computer set to order an blue and orange Ryan jersey. But alas, he would up on Ottawa. Bring the Cherry Hill, New Jersey native back to his local area, where I am sure he would not mind playing in front of family and friends.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Ben Bishop : If Martin St.Louis was not 38 years of age, there is not a team in the league that would not take his heart, soul and leadership. But you cannot fool father time and that is why Bishop is the easy choice here. The mammoth 6’7 goaltender would look outstanding in an Islanders uniform and could be one of Steve Yzerman‘s best moves so far in his early Lightning tenure (acquired for Cory Conacher and a 4th round draft pick). Has been lights out this season with 17 wins, 1.97 GAA and .933 save percentage.
Toronto Maple Leafs
James van Riemsdyk : Let’s bring another New Jersey native back home. Now this one is closer to my heart, as JVR was born and raised in the next town over from mine, Red Bank, New Jersey and has gone onto be a fantastic power winger in the league. Still developing his physical game, it’s coming along and once fully gained, will make him an unstoppable force and a handful to match up against. Still cannot believe Philadelphia traded this guy for Luke Schenn.
Jordan Staal – Does so many things well for the Hurricanes in the defensive zone: winning faceoffs and penalty killing. Also adds an element of offensive skill as a perennial 50 point producer. Would be a bigger, better version of Frans Nielsen.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Brandon Dubinsky – Admittedly, he is probably one of the most least likable players in the entire league….until he is on your team. Never able to really crank up his game in New York, he is the type of player every team needs. Gives 100% maximum effort each and every shift and gets under the opponents skin with relative ease.
New Jersey Devils
Cory Schneider – The one that got away from Garth Snow this off-season would have looked great in an Islanders jersey. Would he have solved the deficiencies in full? No, of course not. But, at 27, he could have put to bed the question of goaltending for a very long time and allowed Snow to purely concentrate on the defensive end of the roster. Had Snow offered the 15th overall selection (Ryan Pulock) along with Nino Niederreiter, many feel the deal gets done.
New York Rangers
Dan Girardi – I would love to say Ryan Callahan here, but with his injury history not being something that we need on the Island, Girardi is easily second in line. A tremendous defensive presence and shot blocker, he is the true 25-28 minute eater to allow Andrew MacDonald to slide back into a more comfortable 2nd/3rd pair playing 18-20 minutes. With Henrik Lundqvist inking his extension to stay on Broadway for 7 more years, I removed him from consideration.
Wayne Simmonds – Another bring your lunchpail to work kind of player, Simmonds would fit in excellently on the Island and help New York regain some of the identity that seems to be missing this season. Always a passionate hard-working player, he is known for mixing up in the fisticuffs as well sticking up for his teammates. Could see him being an excellent locker room addition as well.
Brooks Orpik – 6’2 bruising defenseman from the United States? Sign me up please. Exactly what the Islanders need on the blueline. A true stay at home hard-hitting blueliner with Stanley Cup experience. Only concern is his advancing age of 33 and tons of miles on his engine.
John Carlson – The 23-year-old Massachusetts native already has 111 points in 267 games and has really stepped up a notch this season taking over command of the Capitals blueline in the fog that is Mike Green. Playing an average of 25 minutes a night against the league’s top forwards, he also averages almost 3 shots per game and is a +4 this season. Was hard to go against Niklas Backstrom in this piece as he could be the perfect creative force the Islanders really need in the offensive zone but Carlson I believe is the proper choice given New York’s deficiency.
Let me know what you think in the comments section below and look out for part II as I suggest to the Western conference general managers what to leave me under my tree this Christmas season.