The New York Islanders need top six talent up front to complement their superstar center. So, naturally, when a top six forward is said to be on the market the Isles are immediately linked. Even if the rumor has been around since the start of the season.
It’s a tale seemingly as old as time, Matt Duchene is being linked with to the New York Islanders via trade. We’ve seen this before. And until Duchene is traded, to the Islanders or not, it won’t go away.
The rumor’s been around for a while now. So what has changed for us to be talking about it for a fifth time in the last seven months?
We Know What They Want
It’s no surprise that a defensive core with Fedor Tyutin, Francois Beauchemin, and Patrick Wiercioch is deemed necessary for upgrades. The only good defender on that roster is Tyson Barrie, and Colorado almost went out of their way to alienate him last season.
So defencemen is what Colorado wants. Great, the Islanders have some of those. But in order to get a deal done the Isles need to get the Avalanche to either eat some of Duchene’s cap hit, or the Isles need to part with a significant defensive piece. Like, say Travis Hamonic.
With the Isles current $2.3 million cap space, thanks to Halak’s buried salary in the AHL, the Islanders would need to make another $3.7 million to fit Duchene’s $6 million hit. And that’s where Hamonic and his $3.875,143 million cap hit come into play.
Hamonic is a year older than Duchene, so he may not fit the bill as “young”, but he’s in his prime right now. Hamonic is a leader in the room and on the ice.
The Winnipeg native plays top pairing minutes for the Islanders along with Nick Leddy, and faces top quality opposition night-in-night-out. His 2.35 5-on-5 opposition goals against per 60 is the highest on the team.
Why and Why Not?
Colorado won’t take a straight swap a-la Ryan Johansson/Seth Jones deal from last season. The Isles would have to sweeten the pot with a prospect or fringe NHL player. Say like Adam Pelech for arguments sake.
Would you make the trade? On the one side, you would. You’re giving up a heart-and-soul player and messing up your top defensive pairing. But, we’ve seen Nick Leddy play alongside the also departing Adam Pelech without missing a beat.
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He’ll probably be fine with Ryan Pulock up there with him. Who will get a decent NHL stint now that there’s a permanent vacancy int he lineup.
What the Islanders are getting in return in Matt Duchene is a player who’s scored 184 points in the last three seasons, and is on pace for another 56 on a terrible Colorado Avalanche team.
So why wouldn’t you do it?
Travis Hamonic is an integral part of this franchise. He wears an ‘A’ on his jersey for a reason. He’ also been a good partner for Leddy so far this season, who knows what happens if that gets messed up.
The Islanders are in this mess because they got rid of hear-and-soul players. And what’s going to be the effect on the lineup with another center?
Then there’s the concussion thing to worry about. Would the Islanders be getting a fully fit Matt Duchene? Or is this going to be a dead contract they have to hope a team like Arizona needs to meet the cap floor?
I say the Islanders do it. Make the trade. Hamonic and Pelech for Duchene? Done. Duchene can play wing, alongside Tavares. That sounds pretty tasty to my ears. No matter the potential disruption it might cause to the defensive pairings. And even then, it forces the team to promote Ryan Pulock to the big club. It’s a win-win in my books.