It was a crazy day for New York Islanders fans on Thursday. Just a day removed from witnessing the release of the bold third jerseys, they woke up with a sigh of relief after finding out that Brock Nelson re-signed with the team. Then later, in the day, they found out that the team was involved in a six-player deal centering around Michael Grabner.
Many Islanders fans are a bit sad to see the former 34-goal scorer go to the Maple Leafs, but they must remember that he was an odd man out of the Islanders’ top-12 forwards. The rise of youngsters Ryan Strome, Anders Lee, Nelson and soon-to-be-pro Michael Dal Colle have left the Austrian forward and his $5 million salary behind. Although his cap hit will actually be $3 million for the upcoming season instead of the $5 million he will make, it is still quite a bit of dough to hand out to a guy who has a good chance of being a healthy scratch once in awhile. Yes, injuries have taken its toll on the speedster the past couple seasons, but the Islanders are in win-now mode and can’t afford question marks.
In exchange for grabner, the team picked up a whopping four prospects. Yes, they are no studs, but each have a decent chance of making the NHL. Of the five, two will likely have themselves decent NHL careers. That is a pretty good eschange for someone who’s contract expires at the end of the season.
Let’s take a look at the five new Islanders!
Drafted in the third round in 2013, Verhaeghe is a proven leader (captained the Niagara IceDogs of the OHL) and has played with fellow Islander prospect Josh Ho-Sang. His potential will be a third or fourth line role as a faceoff specialist.
Unlike the other players in the deal going to New York, Beck has NHL experience (85 games, in fact). He was acquired by the Maple Leafs from Nashville in the offseason and is expected to compete for a roster spot on the Islanders. If not, the 24-year-old will be an asset for Bridgeport.
He was a great all-around defenceman with the Guelph Storm of the OHL before getting drafted in the second round in 2012, but has struggled to really show he is NHL-ready since. He is not too big, which may be holding him back, but coming to Brooklyn will give him a fresh start.
Signed by the Maple Leafs after the former second round pick was unable to strike a deal with the Los Angeles Kings, Gibson is considered to have the highest potential in the group. The 22-year-old Finnish goalie had a couple average seasons with the Toronto Marlies last season, but will likely backup Kevin Poulin in Bridgeport for the time being.
A 22-year-old Swedish defenceman who has a year of North American hockey under his belt (with the Toronto Marlies), Nilsson is a very tough defenceman who could come in handy come playoff time one day.