By Joe Bilello
Many of our fans are outraged by the performance of the Islanders thus far this season. People are saying stuff like “can Cappy, Snow must go, or trade Halak”. What us the fans are saying are a few of the possible solutions to turn the Isles season around.
If we look back at last year a few teams that were expected to do well were the Pittsburgh Penguins, Anaheim Ducks, Montreal Canadiens, and Calgary Flames. Pittsburgh, Anaheim, and Calgary were not doing well the first half of the season while the Canadiens cleaned up basically every team. Pittsburgh and Anaheim did very well the second half of the season and both teams had major success (Pittsburgh won the stanley cup and Anaheim finished first in a competitive Pacific division.) On the other hand Montreal fell off a cliff and Calgary continued their horrible play, both of these two teams missed the playoffs. So what does this mean? It means a lot can still happen in an 82 game season, but changes are required.
Pittsburgh fired their coach and made a few minor trades that impacted Pittsburgh in a huge way. They dealt David Perron for Carl Hagelin, Rob Scuderi for Trevor Daley, and a 4th round pick for Justin Schultz. These weren’t huge trades like the Phil Kessel acquisition or the Brandon Sutter Nick Bonino trade they made over the summer, but these minor trades sparked Pittsburgh and changed the way they played. Pittsburgh became a speed demon and could not be stopped and they ended up winning the cup.
Anaheim did not fire their coach (until after they were eliminated from the playoffs after failing to advance) but they did make a few acquisitions. They acquired David Perron for Carl Hagelin, Jiri Sekac for Ryan Garbutt, they claimed Chris Wagner off waivers, acquired Jamie McGinn for a third round pick, acquired Brandon Pirri for a sixth round pick, and traded Patrick Maroon for a fourth round pick. These trades allowed Anaheim to turn their season around and finish first in the pacific division.
On the other hand Montreal saw they were falling after their star goalie Carey Price got hurt and decided not to do anything about it. Calgary was also okay with losing and didn’t make any trades. So the big question is will the Islanders continue to fall like Calgary and Montreal? Or make a few trades to spark the team.
NHL.com recently posted an article titled “Islanders GM Garth Snow reiterates faith in team” and the decription was “Has no plans to fire coach Jack Capuano, doesn’t rule out trade to add offense.” The article later went on to describe how Snow sees this as an opportunity to see who produces when going through adversity and how Ladd doesn’t just bring offense to the game but other qualities. I agree with snow on that, but the acquisitions of Ladd and Chimera don’t replace the voids of Matt Martin, Kyle Okposo, and Frans Nielsen. More Changes are required! So what will make the Islanders better? Players to fill those voids.
The Islanders have the luxury of having 3 NHL level goalies in Halak, Greiss, and Berube. I believe Snow has a plan to deal one of these players because if he didn’t he would have just put Berube on waivers as opposed to P.A Parenteau in the beginning of the season. There are a few teams that need a goaltender and I believe Halak will be the guy to go.
The right move to make in exchange for Halak would be an elite winger to play with Tavares or a two way center to fill the void of Frans Nielsen. Some teams are looking for a goalie that may have a player in return. The following teams may make a move for halak or another player.
- Arizona Coyotes: The Coyotes have a solid two way center to replace Nielsen named Martin Hanzal. The Coyotes may also look to trade Max Domi or Anthony Duclair to be a winger to play with Tavares, but think Hanzal is more likely considering he is heading into free agency
Martin Hanzal in exchange for Josh Bailey/Calvin De han and a third round pick
Hanzal for Halak
Max Domi/ Anthony Duclair in exchange for Halak and a second or third round pick
- Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes have perhaps the most amount of young forwards in the league. All of those players could probably play with Tavares although Jeff Skinner is probably the best decision. Jordan Staal is another solid two way center that is border-line selke worthy and also the brother of current Ranger Marc Staal, that would be very interesting match-up, brother on brother Islanders on Rangers.
Jordan Staal in exchange for Halak and a 3rd round pick
Jeff Skinner in exchange for Josh Bailey/ Calvin De han Halak and a 2nd round pick (Dehan) or 3rd round pick (Bailey)
Victor Rask and a 6th round Pick in exchange for Halak
Teuvo Teravainen and a 4th round pick in exchange for Halak
Elias Lindholm in exchange for Halak
Sebastian Aho and a 4th round pick in exchange for Halak
- Dallas Stars: Dallas is a very good team that isn’t doing well right now also. Their main problem is goaltending. They have a lot of good forwards, not as young as Carolina but some that may attract the Isles attention. Jason Spezza is aging but still puts up solid numbers at center. Cody Eakin is on the younger side and can kill penalties, maybe he can develop to be like Frans Nielsen, he is definitely an underrated player that can be a bargain. Patrick Sharp won the cup with Ladd back in 2010 and could find chemistry with him and Tavares. Jiri Hudler had a fantastic year in 2014-2015 putting up 31 goals and 76 points, he slowed down last year though putting up 16 goals and 46 points maybe playing with Tavares may spark him to perform well again. Finally Valeri Nichushkin, Nichushkin has some off ice problems refusing to resign with Dallas because he didn’t want to play under Lindy Ruff (the head coach.) So he signed in the KHL (Russian league) and has more problems there. He is young and immature now but the islanders may get a bargain from him considering he was drafted 10th overall in 2013.
Jason Spezza in exchange for Halak a 2nd round pick and a 4th round pick
Patrick Sharp in exchange for Halak a 3rd round pick and a 5th round pick
Jiri Hudler and a 4th round pick in exchange for Halak
Cody Eakin and a 3rd round pick in exchange for Halak
Valeri Nichushkin and a 2nd round pick in exchange for Halak
- Los Angeles Kings: With their star goalie Jonathan Quick out for season Los Angeles needs a starting goalie if they want to continue to be good. Luckily LA is a gold mine when it comes to skill. Tyler Toffoli is the perfect player to play with Tavares, last year Toffoli was very successful playing with Jeff Carter and Milan Lucic, Tavares is like Carter but Tavares is better and Ladd plays similar to Lucic. Toffoli may be the perfect Tavares linemate and a line of Ladd-Tavares-Toffoli could be scary. Jeff Carter is also an option, like I said earlier Tavares is like Carter but Tavares is better and that could be like a Crosby-Malkin situation at center and result in a better power play. Tanner Pearson is still young and could develop into a decent player. Dustin Brown captained the kings to two stanley cups but his production has been down the past few seasons and is probably not the best option. Marian Gaborik is good but he has been dealing with injuries recently and is probably not the best option either.
Tyler Toffoli in exchange for Josh Bailey/ Calvin De han Halak and a 2nd round pick (Dehan) or 3rd round pick (Bailey)
Jeff Carter in exchange for Josh Bailey/ Calvin De han Halak and a 2nd round pick (Dehan) or 3rd round pick (Bailey)
Tanner Pearson and a 4th round pick in exchange for Halak
Marian Gaborik and a second round pick in exchange for Halak
Dustin Brown a second round pick and a 4th round pick in exchange for Halak
To conclude if Garth Snow wants his team to do well again he needs to fire Capuano or make some moves if he wants the Isles to turn their season around and get closer to winning the cup.