The New York Islanders boast plenty of firepower this year, but their forwards often leave the team open to the opposition’s attack. The team could use one more well rounded forward to help make them a legitimate playoff threat.
The Islanders have a solid pipeline full of young and promising futures, but find themselves one piece away from proper playoff contention. Many fans would blame defensive inexperience and poor goaltending for the team’s recent woes. Jaroslav Halak’s save % is .011 below his career average, while Thomas Greiss is .030 below his norm.
I for one find it difficult to believe that both goalies are suddenly this bad all of their own accords. The defense, though filled with inexperienced youth, has plenty of skill. Rather, I’d opine it’s largely the forwards who are putting the d-men in tough positions, leaving them out to dry with their “run and gun” style of play.
The blueliners are being left open for too many odd-man rushes. Too often the forwards flee the zone during breakouts, not offering enough support for their young defense. Adding a defensively reliable forward might make all the difference. Here is a player that could potentially change the balance of NY’s season.
25 year old Mark Stone has performed admirably while flying under the radar on a mostly unremarkable Ottawa Senators team. Three seasons ago he came in second place in Calder Trophy voting, and he’s received votes for the Selke in all three of his NHL seasons.
Selke voting shows he is strong defensively, but Stone poses an offensive threat as well since he’s averaged roughly 60 points a season. His well-rounded play could be the thing the Islanders need to assert themselves as a top tier team.
Why Ottawa Might Be Interested
An RFA next year, Stone is in the final season of his contract at $3.5 million. He is Ottawa’s top point-getter and is due for a large pay raise soon. However, the Senators ownership has its own budgetary limits, and Erik Karlsson is due for a salary bump soon as well.
The Islanders can save the Sens loads of cap space down the line by sending them all these futures. Ottawa receives three prospects, relative locals hailing from the Ontario province, still with multiple years of cheap team control on all their contracts.
- Highly touted first-round pick Josh Ho-Sang is talented, capable of putting up huge offensive numbers, but he doesn’t seem to fit the Islanders game plan. Ho-Sang presents a slight gamble, but he’s a top prospect and should mature into an offensively dynamic asset.
- Michael Dal Colle is another Islanders first-round selection who might benefit from a fresh start. Dal Colle is willing to work to improve and shows offensive flashes, but seems destined for bottom six duties.
- Sebastian Aho is a 21-year-old, small sized skating defenseman from Sweden. He’s tied for fourth in points among defensemen in his first AHL season, notching 19 in 26 games. Who better for him to study under than fellow countryman Erik Karlsson, who has a similar style of play.
There are also the two high-end draft picks to consider. The Sens don’t have a second-round pick in 2018, so they could use NY’s. They may have also lost their first rounder in the Duchene trade, but if it’s a top 10 pick they keep it and give up their 2019 pick instead.
Based on how poorly Ottawa is doing, and how much worse they’ll do if they give the Islanders Stone, that first rounder is almost assured to be a top ten pick. Thus, I offered a replacement to the 2019 pick they’re likely to have surrendered.
Islanders Projected Lineup
The Islanders secure a player capable of providing depth scoring and adding defensive stability to their third line. To make room under the cap it would make sense for the Isles to send Steve Bernier and Anthony Beauvillier down to the AHL.
Looking Towards The Future
The Islanders will likely look to re-sign Tavares, Stone, Nelson, Pulock, Mayfield, Toews, Bailey, and possibly de Haan and Hickey at season’s end. They’ll have roughly $32 million to make it work unless the league decides to up the salary cap.
Pulock, Mayfield, and Toews will likely get bridge contracts with reasonable rates, and Nelson’s play doesn’t call for too much of a pay-spike. Stone is up for more money, but as an RFA he is still under team control, so not a rental.
Hopefully, Bailey and Tavares can give the Isles some hometown discounts. In two years Ladd and Boychuk’s contracts gain MTC’s, giving the Isles the option to trade them for cap space.
Ottawa made a surprising playoff push last year and their fans thought there’d be a repeat attempt this season. However, despite attempts to bolster their ranks through trade they’re still performing poorly. They might appreciate an opportunity to replace some of the pieces they lost in the Duchene deal as they look to the future.
If you have something to say about the trade or have a better proposal please feel free to let us know in the comments section below…