When a team isn’t performing as it should, like the New York Islanders, GM’s start to look outside the lineup for help, and trade sharks start to circle, looking for value.
Starting the season 5-6-2 was not in the script the New York Islanders drew up at the start of the NHL season. This was supposed to be a season of progress and not one of regression.
But here we are. The Islanders find themselves near the bottom of the Metropolitan Divison with the riff between those at the top and the Isles continues to grow. If the season is to be salvaged the team needs to act.
It’s not to say that the Isles can’t make a push late in the season. We all remember the Ottawa Senators push for a playoff spot in 2014-15 after going 23-4-4 to close off the season. But that remarkable run coincided with a Boston Bruins team that just couldn’t keep pace.
So while Ottawa was outstanding, it took Boston to drop off in order to secure post-season play. The lesson for the Isles is, the longer they wait to make a change, the less likely they are to control their own destiny.
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The Toronto Connection
A rumor came out yesterday that tied the Isles to the Toronto Maple Leafs: “The Kings are still talking to the Islanders, but so are the Toronto Maple Leafs…The Leafs are very much in the market for help on the defensive side.”
The Leafs need help on the blueline that’s certain, and the Isles have a number of young defensive prospects that could fit nicely within the Leafs system.
But the Isles need a top level wingman. That might be hard to pry out of the Leafs hands. Simply because the elite level wingers the Leafs have are their prized possessions.
Like Golem to the Ring, they will cling on to the likes of William Nylander and Mitch Marner to the death. Ok, maybe not death. But you get the point and the analogy. They aren’t going anywhere.
Maybe the Isles can grab James van Riemsdyk from the Leafs? He’s had his injury problems, but when healthy he’s a 60 point player. JVR combined with John Tavares and Andrew Ladd, or Cal Clutterbuck looks pretty good.
Outside of JVR I don’t see much the Islanders can get or should even look at. And even then, it’s going to take some work to get that trade done. The Isles have just over $1.1 million on cap space left, and JVR’s hit is $4.25 million. And this is all assuming the Riemsdyk is healthy.