Remember a couple of offseason ago when New York Islanders GM Garth Snow “went for it” and acquired guys like Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, and Jaroslav Halak? It was donned the Summer of Garth and after a disappointing 2016-17 season, Snow has to work his magic once again.
It is a critical offseason for the entire New York Islanders’ organization. Besides the arena concerns, the Isles brass has an Entry Draft, an Expansion Draft, and John Tavares’ looming free agency to worry about.
I’m going to play the role of Garth Snow, who has the job security we all dream of having, and explain the moves that have to be made this offseason to make this team instant Cup contenders.
A Real First Line RW
The Islanders have had a revolving door of first line wingers for as long as I can remember and that has to change. Anders Lee looked good on the left wing last year, where he scored a career-high 34 goals. Now, Garth should do everything in his power to get Nikita Kucherov, who is a 40 goal scorer on an extreme team friendly contract, and put him on Tavares’ right side.
The reason Tampa does it, they head into this offseason with major cap concerns. They have to pay Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Jonathan Drouin, and Victor Hedman’s extension kicks in.
Second Line Center
After the departure of Frans Nielsen, the Islanders struggled to fill the void he left. No one was able to slot in as the second-line center and be productive and that has to be addressed. With the Avalanche rebuilding and sell off their parts, the Islanders should acquire Matt Duchene.
The reason Colorado does it, they desperately need defensemen. Hamonic is a good shut down defenseman, even though he is coming off a terrible season. Mayfield has shown that he is an NHL defenseman and played his collegiate hockey at the University of Denver. Dal Colle is a former top 5 pick and while he has progressed slowly, he still has tremendous upside.
Getting Back a Defenseman
Trading away three defensemen is definitely going to leave some holes on the blue line. So why not move a forward to a team that needs them and as a plethora of defensemen at their disposal? I’m talking about the Anaheim Ducks and more specifically, Cam Fowler.
The reason Anaheim does it, they need forwards and Fowler is entering the final year of his contract. The Ducks have defensemen waiting in the wings also, no pun intended. On the other hand, Nelson has one of the best wrist shots in the game but his lack of effort really hurts the team on the ice. Maybe a change of scenery will do him good.
Selling High on Bailey
Josh Bailey finally showed his potential last year, collecting a season high in both assists (43) and points (56). Snow should take this opportunity and sell high on Bailey and get back an asset for him before his contract expires after this upcoming season.
The reason Edmonton does it, they need scoring help outside of Connor McDavid and Bailey could provide that in a second or third line role. He’s coming off a good season and teams that are on the rise tend to jump the gun and overpay for guys. Let’s not forget Chiarelli also dealt Hall for Larsson and a first rounder for Reinhart. Edmonton also has an extra third round pick this year from the Nail Yakupov trade.
The Little and Obvious Things
John Tavares needs to be extended on July 1st, there’s no question about it. No more of the three goalie fiasco, the tandem of Halak and Greiss gives the team a nice 1-2 punch.
The Islanders are probably going to lose one of Calvin de Haan or Thomas Hickey in the Expansion Draft so Ryan Pulock needs to be on the Opening Night roster this year. Matthew Barzal should make the team out of camp even though he didn’t really last long during his stint with the big club last year.
Lee – Tavares – Kucherov Leddy-Boychuck
Ladd – Duchene – Ho-Sang Fowler-Pulock
Chimera – Barzal – Strome de Haan/Hickey-Seidenberg
Kulemin – Cizikas – Clutterbuck Halak-Greiss
When all is said is done, this is what the Islanders’ lines should look like when they open the season in October. I know everything is definitely a long shot but you never know what could happen this offseason, especially with the Expansion Draft. Summer of Garth 2.0 could be a reality