3 times the NY Islanders traded a draft pick for a player's negotiating rights

Toronto Maple Leafs v Carolina Hurricanes
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The New York Islanders have historically had difficulty luring top free agents to Long Island.

This was especially true during the Garth Snow era when the team underwent a rebuild and had to deal with the uncertainty of their arena and ownership situation moving forward. In an effort to acquire talent that otherwise would not consider the Islanders in free agency, Snow deployed a strategy of trading draft picks for the negotiating rights of players, hoping he could use an exclusive window to get a player to sign and forego unrestricted free agency.

The Islanders' situation is vastly different heading into the 2024-25 season, but the trading for negotiating rights scenario circulated on Friday, as SportsNet's Elliotte Friedman ndicated that top free-agent target, Hurricanes winger Jake Guentzel was likely to test free agency, opening up the Canes to moving his rights before Jul. 1. "It sounds like he's available for a mid-round pick, I believe Carolina has let everybody know that if you want to trade for his rights for a chance to sign him, that it's possible for a mid-round pick," said Friedman on the 32 Thoughts podcast.

The 29-year-old Guentzel, who has two 40-goal seasons in his career, is likely to earn a max-term deal, and the advantage of the team that owns his rights would be that they could offer an eighth-year, compared to seven for the rest of the league. The Islanders currently don't have the cap space to sign a player of Guentzel's caliber, so the idea of GM Lou Lamoriello trading a mid-round pick for a player he can't yet fit under his roster would appear to be unlikely.

While it's unknown whether the Islanders or any other team would deploy the same strategy Snow used a decade ago, here are 3 times the former GM traded for a player's negotiating rights and the mixed results that followed.

D Christian Ehrhoff - Vancouver Canucks

On June 28, 2011, Snow traded a fourth-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft to the Vancouver Canucks for top-pair defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. The Isles blueline was led by Andrew MacDonald and James Wisniewski and desperately needed help after allowing 255 goals against the previous season, the third-worst mark in the NHL. Ehrhoff was coming off a 50-point season with the Canucks, scoring 14 goals and adding 36 assists heading into free agency.

The problem was Ehrhoff had no interest in playing on Long Island. Snow reportedly made the defenseman a sizeable offer, but a little more than 24-hours after making the trade for his rights, Snow was able to flip those same rights to the Buffalo Sabres for a 4th-rounder in 2012.

Buffalo Sabres v Edmonton Oilers
Buffalo Sabres v Edmonton Oilers / Derek Leung/GettyImages

The gamble cost the Islanders eight draft slots, going from 95 to 103. The 95th selection overall ended up being Montreal's Josh Anderson, who has scored 20+ goals multiple times in his NHL career while the Islanders selected Loïc Leduc, who never made it further than Bridgeport.

Ehrhoff ended up signing a monster 10-year, $40 million dollar contract with the Sabres. He would fail to live up to expectations and ended up playing just three seasons in Buffalo, who bought out the remaining years of his contract after the 2013-14 season.

D Dan Boyle - San Jose Sharks

The targeting of pre-free agents continued before the start of the 2014-15 season.

Snow acquired veteran defenseman Dan Boyle from the San Jose Sharks for a conditional draft pick in early June and the early indications were that Boyle was open to joining the team. The pick would be a 2015 5th-rounder if Boyle didn't sign and be elevated to a 4th-rounder if he they could convince him that Long Island was the right place for the 37-year-old to play his final NHL seasons.

Boyle had 12 goals and 24 assists in his final season with the Sharks and had hoped to stay in San Jose, but the team only offered him a one-year contract as his role was starting to diminish. His role would certainly be bigger on Long Island for an Isles team hoping to return to the playoffs after missing them the prior season after an encouraging end to the shortened 2013 campaign.

New York Rangers v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game One
New York Rangers v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game One / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages

You can't blame the fact that Boyle didn't like the northeast of the metro-area as the reason why the two sides didn't work out a deal. Unlike the Ehrhoff situation where Snow was able to regain a draft pick prior to the start of free agency, the clock simply ran out on the Islanders trying to entice Boyle to sign with the Isles. Instead, he signed a two-year, $9 million contract with the New York Rangers on the first day of free-agency on Jul. 1. The deal included a no-movement clause and would be where he finished his NHL career.

G Jaroslav Halak - Washington Capitals

Snow faired better with goaltenders than he did with defenseman.

Needing to solidify the crease after a dismal 2013-14 season, Snow aggressively traded a 4th-round pick to the Washington Capitals on May 1st for the negotiating rights to Jaroslav Halak. This time, the maneuver worked as Halak signed a four-year, $18 million dollar contract with the team before the end of the month. “I think it’s a fair deal for Jaro, and it’s a fair deal for us,” Snow said after the signing. “He’s a terrific goaltender, his career stats are good, and we’re happy to have him on board.”

New York Islanders v New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders v New Jersey Devils / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

At the time, Halak owned a very solid .918 save percentage and 2.38 goals-against average for his career, which started in Montreal before a successful run in St. Louis. Halak was then traded from the Blues to the Buffalo Sabres in a deal that included G Ryan Miller and then was flipped to Washington for the remainder of the 2013-14 season.

Halak would go on to have an All-Star season in his first season on Long Island as the revitalized Islanders finished with 101 points and returned to the Stanley Cup playoffs. Injuries plagued him during his second season as Thomas Greiss served as the team's No. 1 goaltender during their 2016 playoff series against the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning. In 177 games with the Islanders, Halak had an 88-65-19 record with a 2.69 GAA.

Oh, and that fourth-round pick? It was the 118th and was originally owned by the Blackhawks. The Islanders acquired it, a deal that sent Peter Regin and Pierre-Marc Bouchard to Chicago. The Capitals ended up trading it to the New York Rangers to move up in the draft, and with that pick, they selected goaltender Igor Shesterkin.