3 under-the-radar prospects the Islanders should pursue at the trade deadline

It’s looking less like the New York Islanders will be serious wild card contenders this season despite a recent winning streak, so why not pursue some prospects?

Nov 29, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) plays the
Nov 29, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) plays the / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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The New York Islanders are in a not-so-desirable situation, given their current spot in the Eastern Conference standings and the fact they are believed to have the worst prospects pool in hockey. While they can look to pick up a few free agent prospects to add more respectability to their pool, the March 8th trade deadline also offers quite a few more possibilities. 

It depends where the Islanders ultimately end up in the standings this week, but if they remain six or more points behind the second wild card team, why keep trying to salvage what has been an, at best, above-average situation? Two seasons ago, they didn’t even make the playoffs, and last season, they ended up with just 93 points and were out of the postseason after six games. 

Therefore, you can argue the Islanders should just sell and start thinking about the future. This may be the more painful route, but is there anything to gain with trying to buy again at the deadline next to the possibility that they might make the playoffs?

Islanders have more to gain by trading for under-the-radar prospects

To be clear, this isn’t saying the Islanders need to be major sellers this week, as they have six forwards signed through 2026 or later. The Isles also have both goaltenders locked in until at least 2027, three young defensemen who will be restricted free agents in 2025, and another three signed through at least 2029. 

No, there is a team here that can make a deep playoff run, given the sheer number of seasons their more prominent players have left on their respective contracts. But this team is also beyond cash-strapped, so selling off players whose contracts are on the verge of expiring either at the end of 2024 or 2025 would be wise to consider. 

And the Isles would be even wiser to bring in some under-the-radar prospects who could be ready to play and help this team get back on track in the next season or two. 

Philip Broberg could thrive with a veteran team like the Isles

Philip Broberg won’t be in Edmonton much longer, and the Oilers would rather get something for him at the March 8th deadline. They would look to add either someone who can help contribute to more scoring or a defensive-minded player to help make life easier for goaltender Stuart Skinner. 

Kyler Palmieri and Brock Nelson, two players whose contracts will expire after next season, could be targets here. If there have been inquiries involving Nelson, he’s the likeliest candidate to move here. Not only would the Isles land a prospect in Broberg, but they should also get one of Edmonton’s first-round picks. 

For a player like Nelson, the Oilers also wouldn’t have trouble also sending a B-prospect to New York, and they can create more cap space by trading Cody Ceci to a third team that will facilitate the trade. 

With 49 points and 28 goals this season, Nelson is still a productive player and one who could be the final piece to what has been a comeback season for the Oilers. Meanwhile, the Isles would land a pair of prospects, ideally a 2024 first-round pick, and they would also get some much-needed cap space. 

Should Edmonton prefer Palmieri in this scenario, look for a slightly reduced cost, but given the value he still brings, New York would still land plenty of future assets, including Broberg. 

Jonatan Berggren has shown he can score over in Grand Rapids

Jonatan Berggren may not have shown the Detroit Red Wings that he can be part of the team for what has become a resurgent season for the organization. But that doesn’t mean we need to slap the ‘bust’ label on him and move on, as Berggren has been taking over games in Grand Rapids. 

With 45 points this season, Berggren is pacing all Griffins players by over a dozen points, and he’s the leader in goals scored, with 18. He also has a solid 14.3 shooting percentage and a pair of game-winners. The numbers don’t indicate Berggren is a bust, but he could instead have just been in a bad situation with a Red Wings team that ranks in the top 12 in age and experience. 

Put Berggren onto an organization that should sell off a few players whose contracts will expire following the 2024-25 season, and there may be room for him to grow as an NHLer. Plus, if a player like Palmieri or Nelson were involved in a deal for Berggren, they are once again getting more than one prospect, plus another early-round pick. 

Tempt general manager Steve Yzerman with a blockbuster trade, and you know he will seriously consider. He has enough cap space to make such a trade happen, so why not call up one of the NHL’s most entertaining general managers? 

Ville Heinola could hit his stride with a new team

Suppose, for a second, that the Islanders traded for Broberg, a B-prospect, a first-round pick, Berggren, another first-round pick, and another B-prospect. Those two trades alone would work wonders for the current state of the Islanders prospects pool, and they would definitely work well for the future. 

Could you imagine a team having five first-round picks over the next three seasons? Talk about changing the trajectory of a prospects pool with more than enough players locked up on long-term deals. Not to mention the cap space being saved, which makes room for a blockbuster offseason trade or a high-profile free agent. 

But the Islanders shouldn’t be finished yet, as they could also call the Winnipeg Jets and inquire about defenseman and former first-round pick Ville Heinola. With no Brock Nelson or Kyle Palmieri in this situation, this would be a trade where you flip someone like Cal Clutterbuck, whose contract expires following the current season, and maybe a fifth-round pick, for someone like Heinola. 

Heinola, like Broberg and Berggren, hasn’t fit in well with the Jets, appearing in just 35 games since the 2019-20 season. He has just 11 points and one goal, and he’s never established himself as anything more than someone you put onto a bottom-pairing. But as a former first-round pick, it wouldn’t hurt to take a flier on him in what could be a minor trade that would involve Winnipeg landing a hard-hitter and seasoned veteran in Clutterbuck. 


(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference and theAHL.com as of March 3rd)