The New York Islanders may or may not make a trade before the deadline. Garth Snow probably doesn’t even know that answer yet so it would be foolish for any of us to think any particular course is pre-ordained.
But if the New York Islanders roster remains substantially unchanged from the way it is today, how can the Islanders become a playoff Stanley Cup contender next season? That question is relevant because it has to flow through the mind of Garth Snow today. Whatever trade is on his table, he has to ask himself what happens to his team if he declines.
Let’s move forward on the assumption that Matt Duchesne is not traded to the Islanders. Neither is Jordan Eberle, Gabriel Landeskog, Patrick Sharp, nor Howie Morenz. What that also means is that the Islanders retain Matt Barzal, Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson, Travis Hamonic, Calvin de Haan and Ryan Pulock.
New York Islanders
They will, of course, still lose Casey Cizikas in the expansion draft, and most likely Jaro Halak in some sort of deal, and with such a log jam on defense, Seidenberg is unlikely to return. That should clear about seven to eight million dollars in salary cap space.
Bring In Oshie
What should the team do next? Sign T.J. Oshie obviously. And don’t be afraid to pay him bigger money on a slightly shorter term. If his other offers are $5 million for six years, try offering seven million for each of four years.
The islanders have more effective cap space than any team in the league – they should be about ten million below the cap with more than enough guys signed. Splurge for once. Oshie is not worth $7 million – so don’t bother debating me on that point. I concede before we start.
But if the first line remains Tavares between Lee and Bailey, and at this point it should, Ladd and Oshie would provide a world class second line set of wingers. My hope would be that Matt Barzal takes that spot between them.
It would be a rare instance for the New York Islanders where they could provide a talented rookie with supportive equally-gifted veterans to break him in. Neither Nino nor Bailey had that advantage. And both struggled. They should try and do better for Barzal.
That would leave a third line of Strome, Nelson, and Chimera. A really good third line. Tito Beavillier could skate between Clutterbuck and Kulemin. That’s four really solid lines.
The goaltending and defense wouldn’t change much. I assume Pulock moves into Seidenberg’s spot. That seems like a plus. Thomas Greiss remains the number one goalie, backed up by JF Berube, barring a surprise appearance by Ilya Sorokin.
You know what? That’s a pretty strong team. Maybe I don’t want to root for a trade after all.