The New York Islanders have one glaring need, no it’s not goal-scoring. It’s the Nick Leddy-sized gap on the blueline. Sure, the Islanders could use more scoring, but they’ve shown that they can get by with what they’ve got offensively.
But that gap on the blue line needs to be addressed before the puck drops on the 2021-22 season. That gap isn’t likely to be filled internally and the players left on the free-agent market aren’t top-four players either.
So the Islanders will have to explore their options on the trade market and the Carolina Hurricanes seem to have a surplus on the blueline that could help the Islanders.
The Carolina Hurricanes are the perfect trade partner for the New York Islanders
According to CapFriendly, the Hurricanes have eight defensemen signed to NHL contracts at the moment:
- Jaccob Slavin
- Brady Skjei
- Jake Gardiner
- Brett Pesce
- Ian Cole
- Ethan Bear
- Brendan Smith
- Jalen Chatfield
And that doesn’t count Tony DeAngelo either. He’s still buried in the minors according to CapFriendly. So that’s nine players for six spots (seven if you count an extra healthy scratch). That’s too many players on the roster.
You’d have to think that one of those players could be pulled from Carolina.
How about Jake Gardiner? He’s a lefty, can carry the puck well, and has similar transition numbers to Nick Leddy. He doesn’t create the same amount of offense on the rush that Leddy did, but few in the NHL can match Leddy’s 1.889 entries with a chance per 60.
(Transition data from Corey Sznajder.)
The former Maple Leaf knows what it’s like to play for Lou Lamoriello. Gardiner had some of his best years while Lou was at the helm of the Maple Leafs. In 2016-17 he put up 43 points in 82 games and then followed that up with 52 points in 2017-18.
Gardiner’s $4.025 million cap hit through 2022-23 would be palatable for the Islanders.
Would the Hurricanes move him? I don’t see why not. There’s a clear defensive surplus in Carolina. What’s the ask from Carolina? I don’t know. They have defense, they have two goalies, their top six is basically set. Do picks and prospects do it for them? I don’t see why not.
I think the Isles could meet the Hurricanes price. Whatever it may be. But the main point of this piece was to bring forward a team that could help fill the Islanders need and even a player that could fill that need well enough. The Carolina Hurricanes are a team with a surplus on defense, and Jake Gardiner is probably someone they’d likely be ok trading who would fit what the Isles are looking for.