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Analysis

New York Islanders: Going All In Or Blowing It Up?

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GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 22: John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders skates on the ice before the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on January 22, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Islanders 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 22: John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders skates on the ice before the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on January 22, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Islanders 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Is it time for the New York Islanders to fully embraced their tank? It’s time to think about the benefits and consequences of giving up on the 2017-2018 season and selling the team.

After a deflating loss on Thursday night to the Buffalo Sabres, the New York Islanders may have to face the reality that this season is a lost one. While rolling over and admitting defeat is never something an organization wants to do, the Islanders need to fully commit to a plan of action and it seems much more likely to see a dramatic rebuild than great improvements to the current team.

For years, Garth Snow has treated his team as both a group of the present and the future. Over the course of several seasons, he has attempted to build a team around superstar John Tavares, who has seen little success outside of a first round series win since being drafted in 2009. However, his obsession with draft picks and prospects that often never pan out as promised has prevented the Islanders from growing or preparing for seasons down the line.

The New York Islanders need to decide right now what kind of team they’re going to be. Their two options are simple: go all in or blow it all up.

Going All In

The former of the two was the path that most fans were hoping Garth Snow would finally take this season. After years of waiting on the outskirts of the playoffs or barely making it out of the first round, the New York Islanders were really beginning to look like contenders in 2017. With an All Star offense and a Calder favorite, it seemed like a simple defensive upgrade would be enough to push the team to the next level.

However, management was dormant and has remained so through various injuries to key players and major defensive lapses that have led to the highest shots against and goals against averages in the NHL. Even with battering loss after battering loss, Snow has made his position clear: he won’t be making big trades. This dismantles hope for seeing a dramatic change any time soon or any plans of going for gold.

The team is on the verge of the point of no return. It would take a series of moves to turn it around and unless Garth Snow intends on changing his ways, the 2017-2018 season is over.

Missing the playoffs this year drastically increases the chances of John Tavares walking on July 1st. Given only a taste of minimal success in his tenure as a New York Islander, it would make the most sense for him to go off in search of his Stanley Cup. So where does that leave the Islanders of the future?

Blowing It Up

One might consider taking a play out of the book of our cross-town rivals. On Thursday afternoon, the New York Rangers announced via letter from management that they would in fact be making great changes to their team and beginning a drastic rebuild. With the Islanders only 3 points ahead of them in the standings and on the brink of losing their star player, it doesn’t seem to far fetched for them to follow suit.

However much sense it would make, Islanders management still seems complacent. Not only has Snow’s plan ruined the chances of any current Islanders team, he also seems too stubborn to sell for an actual future. By refusing to commit to one plan or another, he has damned the organization to being a bubble team forever in the league’s most unforgiving division.

If John Tavares is truly leaving and Garth Snow is going to remain silent, it is time to sell. Cultivating draft picks and young prospects, it would be in the Islanders’ best interest to begin again, as if it were 2009, and build a new team around Mathew Barzal, one made for the modern NHL.

Next: Islanders Comeback Then Fall To Sabres

The argument can and will be made for both a full steam ahead approach and an Islanders fire sale but the one key is commitment. Whichever path the team chooses to go down, they must not fall again into Garth Snow’s trap of neutrality, making one move a year to give the appearance of a team going all in but vocally refusing to give away assets for the necessary pieces to go all the way.

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