The New York Islanders list of protected players was one of the more shocking in all the NHL. Rumor has it that the Islanders are going to give Vegas its 1st round pick to keep GM George McPhee away from those forwards, but is that worth losing your pick?
Even though New York Islanders GM Garth Snow was unable to trade that pick away for a top-six forward before the trade freeze, he shouldn’t be giving it to Vegas for nothing.
The Islanders were the only team in the NHL to protect five defensemen. That obviously means some forwards were left out to dry. Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson, and Josh Bailey are all names Vegas may have their eye on come Wednesday’s expansion draft
Giving the Golden Knights your first-round selection would only be worth it if they chose to select a player with lower value or a bad contract. As part of a deal, Snow should make Vegas choose one of Nikolay Kulemin, Thomas Hickey, Dennis Seidenberg, or Casey Cizikas. Or even someone like Alan Quine or Shane Prince but there is little to no chance Snow is able to make that happen.
Kulemin could be a valuable part an inaugural Golden Knights team. Bringing a veteran presence on the second or third line of a new team could be a boost, and Vegas certainly has the money to eat the final two years of his contract.
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Cizikas is a fan favorite but like his buddy Matt Martin, it would not hurt the team to lose him. He is a productive player but it will be hard for him to live up to his five-year deal. Vegas could use a guy like Cizikas to bring personality to the team and help the third line.
If Vegas were to eat either of those contracts it would tremendously help the Islanders get out of a bad contract. Any bit of money helps as they aim to re-sign John Tavares.
Seidenberg and Hickey don’t have huge contracts but they could give Vegas help on defense without the Islanders having to lose Calvin De Haan. If Garth Snow is able to protect his forward but takes De Haan and your pick, it would be a punch in the throat.
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I’d Rather Keep de Haan
There is no need to lose the pick to protect Josh Bailey, Ryan Strome, Casey Cizikas or Brock Nelson. I would rather them keep the pick than lose it to protect these forwards. I even think it is more important for the Islanders to keep De Haan than any of these forwards.
Last season Bailey had what was without a doubt the best season of his career. He broke out after fans called for his release with a 32 point effort in 2015. Bailey improved his point total to 56 and seemed to be a good fit on Tavares’ wing.
The Islanders though have a flurry of young forwards ready to emerge onto the scene. If Josh Ho-Sang, Matthew Barzal, and Michael Dal Colle live up to their potential they will put up more than 56 points a season and will more than likely play with Tavares.
If Bailey can put up those numbers on a consistent basis he will be a key part of this team moving forward. With that being said, he is replaceable. I would not be mad if Vegas chose Bailey in Wednesday’s expansion draft.
Since coming into the NHL Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson have been disappointments. Strome lacks the size and speed to be an elite player in the NHL. He showed some positive signs in the ladder half of the season under Doug Weight. That though might not be enough to lure him away from Vegas.
Nelson has had back to back 20 goal seasons, but that is not good enough for me. Many those goals have come during a hot streak or two during the season. Nelson has the tendency to disappear, especially on defense. Garth Snow must think highly of Nelson to want to lose a 1st round pick to keep him around.
Losing either Strome or Nelson wouldn’t have a major impact on the Islanders next season.
The Islanders first round pick could still be valuable in dealing for a top six forward so they should not be throwing it away for nothing. Snow clearly has a vision in place it’ll be interesting to see the execution in the upcoming week.