The New York Islanders have a more than a few issues to address as they approach the NHL trade deadline on February 26. One of these problem areas is in the goaltending department.
Jaroslav Halak has looked much better over the last month-or-so in comparison to his previous three months for the New York Islanders. In a loss on Monday to the Minnesota Wild, Jaro gave up three quick second-period goals and wasted what was an extremely promising showing by the Isles.
For all of his miscues over the first half of the year, Halak really has improved his play as of late. That’s why the Islanders should sell while his stock is, probably, as high as it’s going to be. That’s not saying much, but it is what it is.
An expiring contract attached to a still-capable, likely-to-be backup goaltender in Halak would be somewhat attractive to a handful of teams. If the now-infamous Garth “Sticking To My Guns” Snow glues a couple of draft picks to Halak in a deal, the Isles could have their pick of a few talented, and available, netminders.
Who could the New York Islanders target in a trade for a goalie?
In my opinion, the New York Islanders missed out on a great opportunity when they failed to land (if Snow was even in negotiations at all) former Detroit Red Wings’ goalie Petr Mrazek. He was eventually traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for two conditional picks (4th round, 2018; 3rd round, 2019).
Wait, what? That’s all it took to get a promising, 26-year old netminder who was sporting a 2.89 GAA and .910 SV% for a not-so-good Red Wings team? Obviously, Snow wasn’t kidding when he said he wasn’t going to move his high draft picks.
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That statement still stands true, and still could, because all it took was two conditional picks to land Mzarek. So who would be a worthwhile goalie for the Isles to target with just a few days remaining until the trade deadline?
I would say the expiring contract of Jaroslav Halak, along with just one (just one, Garth; please?) of the New York Islanders high-end 2018 draft picks (2nd-rounder would do the trick here) and a mid-to-late round 2019 pick could land a couple of very promising, young (ish) goaltenders.
The two goalies that immediately popped into my head are Antti Raanta of the Arizona Coyotes or Anton Khudobin of the Boston Bruins. Both are above-average goaltenders. Both are still in their twenties. And, both are looking for new starts in new markets.
Swapping Halak for either one of these guys, plus adding a high pick in what is projected to be a very deep draft could pry either one of these two away from their current teams. Everything rides on the psychotic whims of a certifiable madman (not really; that just sounded good in my head), Garth Snow.