New York Islanders Should Package Draft Picks to Address Issues

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 25: (l-r) Charles Wang and Garth Snow attend the 2016 NHL Draft on June 25, 2016 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 25: (l-r) Charles Wang and Garth Snow attend the 2016 NHL Draft on June 25, 2016 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The New York Islanders own two 1st round and two 2nd round draft picks in this year’s NHL Entry Draft. In addition to their own picks, they have additional selections in each of the first two rounds that they acquired from Calgary in the Travis Hamonic trade.

Just how to use these valuable assets is the dilemma GM Garth Snow has likely been faced with over the past few weeks. He has seen the New York Islanders quality of play drop dramatically and has to be looking for a way to spark his team soon after they return from the holiday break.

There are many areas of need, which my colleagues and I have all discussed at length during this recent Islanders slump. Whether they choose to upgrade their goaltending or their defense (or both), those extra picks will likely play a part.

Calgary is currently 18-15-3, in a three-way tie for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Isles are in a comparable spot in the standings, owning a 19-13-4 record. This year’s draft is expected to be talent-rich so any of these picks should secure a future stud for whoever may end up with it.

Who gets packaged with a draft pick?

The New York Islanders have a ridiculously deep farm system these days. From on-the-cuspers like Joshua Ho-Sang and Ryan Pulock to the soon-to-be-NHL’ers like Devon Toews and Ilya Sorokin (Sorokin likely sooner than expected), the Islanders have chips to play with.

If they were to package a player like Ho-Sang, whose potential will never be higher than it is right now, with a first-round pick, they could land just about anyone they want. That is if they’re even inclined to part with a player like Josh. Or with a high draft pick in a deep draft, for that matter.

At the very least, the Islanders have options. That’s a good thing and more than most franchises can say for themselves this time of year.

Which area do the Islanders target for an upgrade?

Obviously, goaltending and defense are the prime areas of concern for the New York Islanders. Whether the Isles want to make a big splash or just a ripple is the $20,000 question. There are a few options available in both the goalie and defenseman markets.

Defensive options range from the flashy (Erik Karlsson or Oliver Ekman-Larsson) to the conservative (Mike Green or Mathew Dumba). In order to make a deal work for someone like Karlsson or Ekman-Larsson, the Islanders would need to part with one of their NHL-ready prospects, a first rounder, and maybe another blue-chip prospect. A possible deal could look like this:

Not only do the New York Islanders get a franchise cornerstone in Karlsson, they get a future 1b goaltender (to Ilya Sorokin’s  hypothetical 1a) in Marcus Hogberg, a highly touted Senators prospect currently playing in Europe.

Are there any real goalie upgrades to be had?

Without paying a substantial premium, it may be hard for the New York Islanders to find an upgrade at netminder that would make sense to them personnel-wise and financially. Personally, I’d like to see the Isles make a run at Michael Hutchinson, who is not currently on the Winnipeg Jets roster, but lighting up the AHL with Manitoba.

He’ll be a rental but with Jaroslav Halak coming off the books after this season and Thomas Greiss looking less and less like a viable option moving forward, a swap of expiring contracts and a draft pick could make it work for both sides.

In this trade, while giving up the Flames 2018 first-rounder, the New York Islanders get two proven players who will come off the books after 2017-18. If both players were to perform at a high level, the Islanders would have the inside track to bring them back next year.

Next: Calvin de Haan Reportedly Opts For Surgery

The depth of talent in the Isles system combined with the glut of talent already at the NHL level makes certain assets expendable. These expendable assets are very attractive to teams looking to make a move of their own, and that leaves the Islanders with lots of leverage to work with. It should be an exciting new year.