The Deke Squad – Issue No. 6: Trade Deadline, 2014-15, LaFontaine

By Chris Triantafilis
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Jan 14, 2014; Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Panthers goalie

Tim Thomas

(34) blocks a shot by New York Islanders center

Ryan Strome

(18) as right wing

Scottie Upshall

(19) defends in the first period at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

2. With John Tavares injured and Long Island’s hockey team’s season approaching its end, what, in your opinion, is most important for the Islanders heading into 2014-15?

CT: Two things come to mind, guys. For one, the Islanders must figure out what they’re doing at the trade deadline. Vanek and MacDonald must be moved for top value. In my opinion, this trade deadline can either push the Islanders forward, or set them back a year or two.

The other thing would be the development of the team’s prospects. With Tavares out of the lineup, it’s very important to give offensive prospects Ryan Strome and Anders Lee the opportunity to succeed. It was great to see Lee score two goals on Thursday night, and it was a positive to see Strome record an assist on one of them. Heck, it was even fun to watch Mike Halmo throw the body around; however, the Islanders must make sure they continue to get solid minutes and responsibility. As time goes forward, it might even be worth giving Scott Mayfield and Andrey Pedan a taste of the NHL from the team’s blue-line.

How about you guys?

EB: Confidence. They have to get the young guys confidence. Nabokov is terrible. He has only gotten worse as the season has progressed. It’s time to move him to a backup role and see if Poulin is an everyday goalie. I don’t think he or NIlsson are starters to be honest. But it’s time to see what they have. 

It’s also time to see what Strome, Lee, Halmo, and others have. I am done with Thomas Vanek. You don’t want to sign a deal? Bye. He is not even trying and rumor has it that he won’t be accompanying the team on the road trip

The spot next to John Tavares should be among the most coveted in the NHL. We are no one’s minor league farm team. If he doesn’t want to sign here, we have plenty of prospects ready to make a difference.

I also think that Snow has to give the Isles confidence. He needs to show this team he is not afraid to make a big move to improve the team. Even if it’s too late for this season, show them that you plan on building a core around Tavares, Okposo and players of that ilk. Show something. Be bold. Make sure the fans know this season was the exception, not the rule.

RDR: Thomas Vanek did all he could to help this team when it was in some position to make a run at the post-season. But I agree with Eric in that his play as of late lacks decisiveness and tact, but it’s to be expected.

I don’t harbor any bitterness toward him, as any player reserves the right to be wherever he deems fit. Vanek is at a career crossroads, and he’s looking to cash in on an impressive career thus far, as he most certainly feels the years coming upon him.

For me the Islanders executive office must ask Jack Capuano for some semblance of a plan to turn around this team, and if it sounds like more of the same, consider either strongly suggesting better alternatives, or moving him out.

Whether or not Capuano is the problem is not a conversation of which I want to partake, but I will say that the Isles need change to occur in all aspects of their game plan if they want to avoid a similar fate next season.

To say that goaltending or defense are the most pressing issues in need of redress is to state the obvious, while picking at the Isles’ proverbial infected scab. This offseason will require much from Garth Snow, and whatever moves he makes will most certainly be viewed with heavy scrutiny by those who sign his checks. Consider almost every New York Islander who is NOT John Tavares to be held to a similar standard. And I do mean everyone. Even the guy who fills the water bottles. 

The Islanders should concentrate on regrouping, like Eric said, and strengthening their core: allowing their youth to take hold of their opportunities. I’d like to see Reinhart, Pedan, Halmo, Strome and Lee all get considerable ice time, so that all the speculation surrounding them can end. That way the Isles can make even better moves than the ones everyone’s expecting this offseason.

See, that’s the issue I foresee happening: for Snow to make the moves everyone thinks he should make, would require him to foretell the future of those aforementioned players, not mention those young players–Donovan, de Haan, Hickey–who have shown their respective levels of worth.

For me there are three New York Islander teams at present: a) the one that is next to last in the standings; b) the one that exists in the minds of wishful Islander fans; and c) the one everyone thinks they can assemble a la NHL 14

I don’t expect too much in the way of fireworks this offseason, to be honest.

I will temper my expectations, and simply hope that John Tavares has a healthy summer.

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