Step 5: Trade for Darcy Kuemper
Trying to find a goalie for the Islanders has been impossible. The Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss duo was supposed to be a 1a and 1b system with two average level NHL caliber goalies. Halak has been inconsistent and Greiss has been just flat out bad.
Halak, who is a UFA, is 18-22-6 with a .908 save percentage and a 3.23 goals against average. He also has a .432 quality start percentage and a -7.90 goals saved above average. The advanced numbers aren’t great.
Greiss for lack of a better term has been putrid. In 24 games Greiss is 11-7-2 with a .891 save percentage and a 3.84 goals against average. .324 percent of Thomas Greiss stats have been considered quality starts and he’s sporting a -16.43 goals saved above average.
Yes, defense in front of the goalies haven’t been great but especially if Halak leaves in free agency the Islanders are going to need a replacement. That’s where they should trade for Darcy Kuemper.
Darcy Kuemper just signed a two-year $3.7 million extension giving him a nice cap hit of just $1.85 million. There’s one problem, Arizona also has Antti Raanta who will likely also get an extension from them as well.
A backup goalie is an expendable piece and if the Islanders offer up something appealing it would be difficult for Arizona to pass it up.
In order for this to happen the Islanders would need Andrew Ladd to waive his no-trade clause. You could sell him on a better opportunity. He’d still be paid the same, but he will be on a team that lacks depth, that’s where he comes in. He would easily play in their top-six next year.
I’d tell him that he wouldn’t play if he stayed. He’d be a healthy scratch every single night if he stayed and Arizona could use the veteran experience to go around with their youngsters like Clayton Keller and Christian Dvorak. I’ve also never seen a rebuilding team shy away from draft picks. A second round pick would certainly sweeten the pot here.
The reason why the Isles retain $12 million, or $2.4 million per year, is because the CBA allows you to retain up to 15 percent of the cap ceiling of the remaining salary. If the cap ceiling is $80 million next year the Islanders could at most retain $12 million. So receiving a second rounder, and a $3.1 million a year Andrew Ladd to help a young forward group seems like good value for a goalie of Kuemper’s caliber.
As for Kuemper and the Islanders, in 21 games this year he has a .927 save percentage and a 2.25 goals against average. Of his 17 starts, .529 percent of them have been considered quality starts. He also has a 8.55 goals saved above average which is good enough for 14th in the league of 65 qualifying goalies.
A goalie combination of Kuemper and Greiss for $5.18 million for two years as Soderstrom and or Sorokin (fingers crossed) are being groomed seems like the easiest solution. A lot has to break right in this scenario but if you’re able to convince Ladd to go to Arizona for more minutes this could be huge for the Islanders.