The New York Islanders have a surplus of quality defensemen, and with Nick Leddy’s role being taken over by Devon Toews, he can be flipped for a top-six forward in Tomas Tatar.
He often is regarded negatively because of how much Vegas overpaid in the trade with Detroit to have him, and how he didn’t fit well on their team, ended up on the scratchpad and flipped soon after as a toss-in on the Max Pacioretty trade.
But Tatar is a good player and fits exactly what the Isles need. He proved it last year in Montreal with a very solid 80 game, 25 goal, 58 point, +21 season. And after reading some recent reports that the Canadiens are in the market for a puck-moving left defenseman to pair with Shea Webber, this just lines up well for both sides.
The first thing you may think of is, “why would the Habs trade a forward when they’re trying to add more scoring with a Sebastian Aho offer sheet?”. And that’s a fair question, but Nick Leddy can bring offense to the team from the blue line and solidify the top pairing, so in the end, they kill two birds with one stone.
Why Tatar Fills a Need
Here’s why I like Tatar here for the Isles. He’s a lock for 20+ goals, having averaged 23 per season for the past six years – only missing the 20-goal mark once with 19 in a 73-games-played 2013-14 season. Even in a year where he spent a tough 20 games with Vegas, he scored a combined 20 goals for the season.
Read this scouting report and tell me that it isn’t what the Isles need.
"Has good speed, tenacity and versatility up front. Can play both wing positions, as well as the ability to be used in a variety of ways. Possesses a lot of goal-scoring acumen in the NHL. Still needs to get physically stronger in order to be able to play his highly-skilled style at the highest level over the long haul, since he is somewhat undersized (5-10, 185 pounds).Long Range Potential: Talented, versatile scoring winger."
He plays hard, skates fast, plays on the power play and has a nose for the back of the net (even has played some penalty kill). Pair that with the fact that the can play either wing position and you can find excellent value for a Leddy deal.
Because Leddy is slightly younger, signed longer and a more difficult-to-find value, the Isles can get additional assets in the swap. The Canadiens and Marc Bergevin take a flier and get a wild-card in Ho-Sang who can possibly fill in some of the offensive need if he can crack their lineup.
The money lines up well, so while the Isles don’t get much salary relief, they do flip an asset they have in surplus for one they have in deficit. Tatar carries a $5.3 million cap hit for the next two seasons, while Leddy carries a $5.5 million cap hit for the next three seasons. Moving Ho-Sang also provides some salary relief.
Projected Lines After Deal
Lee – Barzal – Eberle
Tatar – Nelson – Bailey
Beauvillier – Cizikas – Dal Colle
Martin – Komarov – Ladd
Pelech – Pulock
Toews – Mayfield
Hickey – Boychuk
Scratch: Johnston, Kuhnhackl, Clutterbuck
With free agency now having seen most top-level players already signed, the trade market is the way to go, and this deal just works for both teams.