The New York Islanders have a few needs this season. A second line center and another top six forward. What if they could get both in one package? And he’s Tavares’ friend?
But after that, it’s a debate as to whom should fill that second line. The kids like Joshua Ho-Sang and Anthony Beauvillier are making a great push for that spot. Both have played on the wing though. So who fills that void in the middle?
Mathew Barzal seems like he’d be a good fit for that second line. But we know how the Isles generally like to operate when it comes to youth. They’ve got to spend their time learning the defensive side of the game and thus spend time on the fourth line.
Bringing In A Friend
So how about Columbus Blue Jackets Sam Gagner? You know, that guy the Blue Jackets are paying $650,000 on the cap and who put up 50 points this season?
Sure, he was a bust in Philadelphia. But in Columbus, he found that spark again. Playing center alongside ex-Flyer Scott Hartnell and Lukas Sedlak he put up 18 goals and 32 assists. Eight of those goals and ten assists came on the powerplay.
He’s exactly what the Islanders need. He’s also Tavares’ close friend. In an interview with Hockey’s Future JT spoke about his friendship with Gagner:
"HF: Speaking of friends what about Sam Gagner? Are you surprised he’s doing so well in the NHL?JT: No, not at all. I know how hard he’s been working and where exactly he’s come from. Especially when we were 10 years old playing on his backyard rink. It’s been amazing. All the days we used to talk about playing and watching the NHL and seeing him there now it’s amazing. I’m so happy for him and very proud of him. We talk weekly and see how each other are doing."
What’s The Price?
We just saw pending UFA and two-time Vezina finalist Ben Bishop‘s right go for a fourth round pick to the Dallas Stars. The situation in LA with Bishop isn’t too far removed from that of Columbus and Sam Gagner.
The 27-year-old has certainly played himself into a raise. But the Blue Jackets are already close to the cap ceiling with $71.4 million already committed to players. By next season the Blue Jackets are scheduled to have just under three million in cap space.
And with the cap not expected to move by any significant margin next season the Jackets aren’t going to have much room.
They still have to sign 22-year-old Alexandre Wennberg who put up 59 points last season. That won’t be cheap. With 29 points, Josh Anderson is going to chew up a portion of their cap. And they still have to figure out how much they’ll pay Joonas Korpisalo and Anton Forsberg.
Sam Gagner might just be expendable to make these other players fit in. A third round pick for Sam Gagner’s signing rights would be a great deal for the Islanders.
But the Isles aren’t far off the ceiling either you say? You’re right. That’s where Mikhail Grabovsky and LTIR can come into play. By going over the cap, the Isles could place Grabo on LTIR and get some cap relief.
Bringing him in addresses a top six forward position, the second line center position, and maybe it also helps Tavares out by bringing his buddy in