Islanders should have matched return in Jason Zucker trade
Two weeks before the trade deadline closes, a big trade has happened in the NHL. And of course, the New York Islanders weren’t one of the teams involved.
New York Islanders divisional rivals Pittsburgh Penguins just got deeper up top. Two weeks before the trade deadline closes, Penguins GM Jim Rutherford traded Alex Galchenyuk, a conditional first-round pick, and defensive prospect Calen Addison to the Minnesota Wild for Jason Zucker.
Penguins give up nothing on their current roster to get a top-line player with a contract for the next three seasons. Tell me that’s not the trade that the New York Islanders should be looking at making?
Looking at the deal, here’s how it could have worked for the Islanders.
What Did Minnesota Get?
Alex Galchenyuk: Former third-overall pick in 2012. It’s been a slow downward slide for him in his NHL career. With 17 points in 45 games, he’s far from the player that scored 56 in 2015-16.
Calen Addison: A puck-moving right-shot blueliner with heavy offensive upside but is weak defensively. Every NHL team needs one on the ice and in the system. Addison was the key acquisition for the Wild in this trade.
With 43 points in 39 games for the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the WHL, Addison is the seventh-highest scoring blueliner in the league.
He’s also the 50th ranked prospect halfway through the season according to The Athletic’s Corey Pronman (subscription required).
Conditional 2020 First-Round Pick: The condition on the pick is lottery protection. If the Penguins somehow miss the playoffs, the pick becomes a 2021 first-round pick.
Galchenyuk was a former top-end talent that’s having serious struggles over the last few years. He was also at one point a productive player at the NHL. He scored 50 or more points in two seasons and was once a 30 goal scorer.
The Islanders don’t have an Alex Galchenyuk on their roster per-see, but Michael Dal Colle would have been a good fit for Minnesota.
Dal Colle is an RFA after his contract is up, Galchenyuk will be a UFA. So he’s a controllable asset for a few more years. He’s also only on the cap for $700,000, And Dal Colle is relatively as productive as Galchenyuk. There’s also the fact that Dal Colle is certainly much better defensively than Galchenyuk is.
For Calen Addison, the Islanders could use Bode Wilde. Recently returned to the OHL, Wilde is big puck-moving blueliner that the Islanders could certainly live without.
And of course, the first-rounder in 2020 goes with the same conditions that Pittsburgh put. If the Isles miss the playoffs it becomes a first in 2021.
Why the Deal Might Not Have Happened
Lou didn’t want to. He’s been hesitant so far and perhaps again this time he didn’t want to move Wilde and a first. I’m assuming he knew that Zucker was on the trade market (how could he not) and what the price was to get him.
There’s also the possibility that Zucker didn’t want to. He had a ten-team no-trade list. There’s no guarantee that the Islanders are on it. But with all Canadian teams reported to be on the list (subscription required), the odds the Isles were one of the three other teams were small.
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The price the Penguins paid was high, but when the asset they’re getting back is a 30 goal scorer with three years left on his deal, sometimes you have to pay a big price.
It’s a price that Lou Lamoriello could have and should have certainly matched.