The time has come for the New York Islanders to make a move. If the Isles want to survive the Metro Division and earn themselves a place in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, there is no better way to start that process than to make a trade for a franchise trajectory-altering player.
There have been an array of trade proposals thrown out in recent weeks, by pundits and fans alike. I’ve laid out three potential swaps that could propel the New York Islanders from the middle of the pack to the upper echelon of the NHL.
Most of the trade ideas we’ve heard have been centered around upgrades at goaltender and defense. Both of those areas will be addressed in the following paragraphs, as well as an outside-the-box idea that could pay off handsomely.
Last week one of my colleagues here at Eyes On Isles proposed a trade for Anthony Duclair. I liked that idea so much, I figured let’s go for the whole enchilada. In this scenario, the New York Islanders land one of the premier defensemen in the NHL in Oliver Ekman-Larsson, as well as a talented forward in Duclair.
The price to acquire these two would no doubt be steep, but in this writer’s opinion, totally worth it. In theory, this trade would turn Travis Hamonic into OEL and Joshua Ho-Sang and defenseman Patrick McNally (currently with Worcester) into Anthony Duclair.
Larsson would immediately be thrust into the Islanders top defensive pairing, likely with Nick Leddy. This would leave (when healthy) Johnny Boychuk playing on the second D pair with, if it was up to me, Ryan Pulock.
Anthony Duclair could hypothetically start alongside Brock Nelson and Shane Prince (or possibly Tanner Fritz) on the third line. It could be fun to see how Duclair would perform if he took Jason Chimera‘s spot on the fourth line if Doug Weight wanted to go that route.
In this trade, the New York Islanders get the elite netminder that they’ve been looking for and a promising, young (soon to be restricted free agent) defenseman in Matt Benning. Talbot signed a contract extension last January for three years and $12.5 million, locking him up through 2019-20 at a little over $4 million per year.
Jaroslav Halak is making about the same amount this year. If the Isles could upgrade to a goalie like Talbot for the same price they’ve been paying Halak, this is a move has to be made. If they have to overpay, so be it.
Edmonton would get Thomas Greiss and Brock Nelson, whose contract expires at the end of this year. In addition, they’d receive two 2018 2nd round draft picks, one of which would come from Calgary.
Benning would give an inexperienced back-end defensive unit a little more credibility. If he works out as a viable option, the Isles would have the inside track to bring him back into the fold after the season. Jaro Halak would either be relegated to backup duties or could even be traded as well to make room for Christopher Gibson.
Walk with me. Let me sell you on why the New York Islanders should mortgage their future to land a winger that they may not really need. Let’s be clear. Every team in the NHL needs a player like Max Pacioretty.
The Isles would need to give up at least their two of their top prospects and two first-round draft picks in order to make this one happen. In addition to Pacioretty, the Islanders would receive Joseph Morrow who’s well on his way to becoming a top 4 defenseman in his own right.
Where would Max Pacioretty fit into the Islanders plans, you ask? I’d be happy to elaborate. Obviously, the first line is fine just the way it is with Josh Bailey and Anders Lee flanking John Tavares. I would move Andrew Ladd, who’s been amazing with the second line, down to the third line and stick Pacioretty with Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle.
If we think the second line has been exciting so far, imagine them with Max on the wing instead of Ladder. Ladd would provide the third line with what they’ve been missing; leadership and a steady hand at the wheel. Brock Nelson could thrive playing alongside Ladd, in my opinion.
Any of these mock trades would be game-changing for the New York Islanders. Considering the injuries and poor play that have been hampering the Isles as of late, a major move could inject some much-needed life into an Islanders team that desperately needs it.