The New York Islanders are just one of many teams still jockeying for playoff position in the East. In order for the Isles to stay in the hunt, they have to be players at the trade deadline.
After the All-Star the New York Islanders found themselves on the outside looking in on the playoff picture. Their 25-20-5 record (55 points) has them just one point out of the final wild-card spot with 32 games to go.
The team definitely has the potential to make the postseason but its current configuration isn’t going to get the job done. Being a lifelong Isles fan, these are the areas I would want Garth Snow to address before the February 26th deadline.
Top 4 Defenseman
The injury bug hasn’t been kind to the team this year. As a result, they’ve lost two of their top defenseman in Johnny Boychuk and Calvin de Haan. Their absence has definitely been felt as the Islanders have let up the most goals (180) in the NHL this year.
The kids have shown promise at times but are too inconsistent and it has cost the team a handful of games. You know there’s a problem when your team needs to score at least four goals a night to win a game.
Getting Boychuk back will be a boost but they can still use another defenseman and it doesn’t necessarily need to be a rental.
Potential targets: Mike Green, Erik Gudbranson, Oliver Ekman-Larsson
In recent memory, the Islanders have had a pretty decent penalty killing unit and are only a couple of years removed from being one of the best. This year has been a completely different story as they rank 30th in the league at 73.5%.
More from Eyes On Isles
- Islanders key to success: Load management with goalies
- Islanders Zdeno Chara trending in the right direction
- Islanders: Semyon Varlamov Deserves Benefit of the Doubt
- Islanders Ilya Sorokin becoming number one goalie
- Islanders Zach Parise Was Quiet in Return to Minnesota
That is a big regression and it isn’t a coincidence considering one of their best penalty killers, Nikolai Kulemin, hasn’t played since early November. Killing off penalties can be crucial in big games and can provide a huge momentum swing.
Adding another guy to help the PK can also mean that they replace Jason Chimera on the fourth line.
Potential targets: Michael Grabner, Benoit Pouliot, Mark Letestu
Third Line Forward
The third line has been abysmal this year and is due for a major upgrade. No matter who Doug Weight puts together, it has been an Achilles heel for the team all season. No one has been able to find success.
Ho-Sang probably has the most potential but he “turns over the puck too much,” as if the whole team doesn’t do that also. On the plus side, with Anthony Beauvillier’s emergence on the second line, Andrew Ladd could be pencilled in on the third line once he returns.
I would love to see if Ladd and Brock Nelson could show a little of the chemistry they had last year. But the team still needs to add and hopefully, it’s a center so Nelson can move to the wing.
Potential targets: Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Thomas Plekanec, Thomas Vanek
You could make the argument to add a goaltender but I still believe Halak and Greiss could be serviceable, especially if you get better defensively so they don’t have to face 35+ shots a night. Addressing these areas can put the team back on track to where they were earlier in the season.
I can’t remember the last time Garth Snow made a big splash at the deadline and I don’t want to see his only move being for another depth forward. The time to go for it is now and Snow has to pieces to make a big, impactful move, he just needs to put on his big boy pants and give this team what they deserve.