If the NHL Expansion Draft was held today the New York Islanders would lose either Brock Nelson, Anders Lee, Ryan Strome, or Ryan Pulock. Not a great situation for the current general manager Garth Snow. Because of this predicament, expansion could lead to trades for the Islanders.
The New York Islanders are in this expansion pickle because of their depth on defense. Most NHL clubs will choose the expansion protection option of seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie.
Because the Islanders have to protect Johnny Boychuk (no-move clause), Nick Leddy, and Travis Hamonic there is no room for Ryan Pulock in that format. So, if Garth Snow wants to protect his 2013 first-round pick (15th overall) he must choose the eight skaters and one goalie protection list option.
However, going the eight skaters-one goalie route creates a different problem for the Islanders. If the Islanders want to protect four defensemen that would just leave four protection slots for forwards.
John Tavares and Andrew Ladd have to be protected because of no-movement clauses. So, out of Brock Nelson, Anders Lee, and Ryan Strome one would have to be exposed in expansion by going the four blue line protection route.
No Good Options
Remember the movie Argo, when they said: “This is the best bad idea we have”? Well, it feels that way when it comes to the current potential Islanders expansion list.
Nelson is probably on his way to his third straight 20-goal season and he is only 25. Yes, the former University of North Dakota player is too inconsistent and has been non-existent in the playoffs but he must be protected. He has been one of the Islanders top goal scorers the last three years.
Lee is looking like the player he was two years ago when he scored 25 goals. He leads the Islanders so far this year with 14 goals.
Finally, while Strome is coming off a disastrous season, he is starting to find his game again. Currently, the former fifth overall pick has six goals and 13 points. Remember just two years ago Strome was one of the Islanders best players and he is only 23.
Who does Snow leave exposed in expansion? That is the question.
The only way the Islanders don’t lose one of their talented youngsters to George McPhee and the Vegas Golden Knights is if they make a trade before the expansion draft. The Islanders have two opportunities to do so. Either before the February 28th trade deadline or when their off-season begins before the expansion draft.
The Islanders have two options in terms of making a trade to solve their expansion problem. They could move Pulock for a forward (preferably one that is exempt from expansion) or package the young D-man and one of these three talented forwards for a top proven goal scorer.
The other option is to trade either Strome, Lee or Nelson for a very talented young forward who is also exempt from the expansion draft. Players with two years or less of professional experience are exempt from the expansion draft. Such a trade would allow the Islanders to protect the other two forwards and resolve their expansion issue.
If Pulock is exposed for expansion he can pack his bags for Las Vegas. On the Vegas Hockey Podcast, George McPhee (Golden Knights GM) stated he really liked Pulock. Something needs to happen otherwise the Islanders are going to lose a talented youngster for nothing.