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Islanders should trade Nick Leddy before expansion draft

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - MAY 18: Nick Leddy #2 of the New York Islanders makes a pass against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period in Game Two of the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena on May 18, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 2-1. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - MAY 18: Nick Leddy #2 of the New York Islanders makes a pass against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period in Game Two of the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena on May 18, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 2-1. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
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NHL GMs are worried about the expansion draft. As they should be. They all saw what happened last time around with the Vegas Golden Knights. Now they’re getting ready. Earlier in the week, Nashville Predators GM David Poile traded forward Viktor Arvidsson in anticipation of the Seattle expansion draft. Should Lou Lamoriello and the New York Islanders do the same?

Consider that the Islanders could very well lose Nick Leddy to Seattle. And while losing him and his $5.5 million cap hit is acceptable doing so for free isn’t.

There is considerable debate who the Islanders protect from their forwards (Bailey or Eberle), but there isn’t a debate about what defensemen will be protected. In a 7-3-1 protection format, the Isles certainly protect Pelech, Pulock, and Mayfield. Leaving Leddy exposed.

New York Islanders and preventative trade before Seattle expansion draft

Again, shedding $5.5 million by Leddy going to Seattle is a good scenario for the New York Islanders. But doing so for free isn’t as optimal as it could be.

Trading him away for picks would move that cap hit while also bringing in a prospect or two. That move allows the team to protect the players they want while also bringing in some prospects for a system that needs more talent.

Great. Can they make that trade?

Leddy is movable. Sure he carries a $5.5 million hit, but he’s a veteran puck mover that could put up 30-40 points in a more offensive system. So what’s the market for Leddy? The Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres immediately come to mind.

Both teams are in need of vets on the blueline and both have spots to spare when it comes to the expansion draft. Based on CapFriendly’s auto-protect feature (what a legendary feature by the way), the Sabres and Sens would protect the following defensemen:

  • Ottawa Senators
    • Thomas Chabot
    • Nikita Zaitsev
    • Joshua Brown
  • Buffalo Sabres
    • Rasmus Dahlin
    • Rasmus Ristolainen
    • Henri Jokiharju

Say what you will about Josh Brown and Henri Jokiharju, but Nick Leddy would be a better protect than either player.

Now, can the Sens or the Sabres give the Isles a decent trade package? Yeah. Figure a 2021 third would be the cost. I know that might sound low, but consider that the value for the Isles is moving the cap hit and not losing Leddy for free. The Sabres have two third-round picks in 2021 while the Senators still hold their 2021 third. So, again, yeah they could.

Even settling for a fourth-round pick would be acceptable for the Isles.

Nick Leddy is owed a $7 million salary in 2021 so perhaps that rules out the Ottawa Senators who are notoriously cheap.

The entire point of this post was to look at any options the Islanders have in terms of moving. Nick Leddy rather than just losing him for free. Trading Nick Leddy before being potentially picked in expansion is a real possibility and is something they should consider doing.

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