By Joe Bilello
A question many Islanders fans ask is “what would have happened in the Islanders 2016-17 season if Garth Snow knew what he was doing.” Many people would respond with “Martin, Okposo, and Nielsen would all still be Islanders.” This may not be the case though. Snow was given the chance to acquire an elite player in Taylor Hall and he turned it down knowing he was going to lose at least one key piece of the Islanders team (Okposo, Nielsen, Martin.) Snow was very stupid to turn this trade down knowing he could have acquired the high end winger John Tavares so desperately needs. This article is going to focus on one of the possibilities that could have happened if Garth Snow did the right thing.
First let’s look at the departures of Matt Martin, Kyle Okposo, and Frans Nielsen. Okposo has said playing at the Barclays center is difficult because he has two young children at home and he can’t see them on game days due to the 6 am commute to Brooklyn where he stays until 11pm to come home again, at that time his kids are asleep. If I was in Kyle’s situation I would sign in Buffalo too because I would want to see my loving family every day. I can’t blame Okposo, he was gone either way. Nielsen flat out turned down a contract extension, I think he did this for the very same reason because he had his first born very soon after he signed in Detroit. Matt Martin I was shocked and angry about, Martin was a nominee for the NHL player foundation for leadership and activeness in the community. Martin has a summer camp on long Island every summer and he is STILL continuing it this summer although he is playing in Toronto. To add to all of that he is dating Sydney Esiason daughter of NFL legend Boomer Esiason who played for the New York Jets and lives on Long Island. Boomer also is a die hard Ranger fan and does a popular sports talk show with Craig Carton called Boomer and Carton. What pissed me off about Martin not resigning is that he wanted to resign and Snow flipped him off and made no attempt to resign him. Martin’s presence was noticed this year because the Isles were far less physical and Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck his former linemates had down years, the best 4th line in hockey is now no more. If Garth Snow was a good GM Matt Martin would still be an Islander Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen I can understand leaving.
Now after reading that last paragraph you may be asking “what are you talking about Okposo and Nielsen were more important than Matt Martin.” Yes this is true but Garth Snow had the opportunity to replace these players and he blew it. Travis Hamonic had a personal issue (most likely to do with his family) so he requested a trade to be closer to home in Winnipeg. The Edmonton Oilers pounced on this opportunity to acquire Hamonic since Edmonton is close to Winnipeg. The trade was Taylor Hall the former number 1 pick in 2010 one year after John Tavares for Travis Hamonic, one for one Hall for Hamonic. This was the opportunity to acquire an upgrade to Kyle Okposo and the elite winger Tavares desperately needs. The loss of Hamonic would have been easily replaced by the one of the Islanders young defensemen (Pelech, Mayfield, Pulock.) It would be much like what happened when Hamonic went down with and injury this year Pelech would play a few games Mayfield would play a few games, even Ryan Pulock would play if Snow was smart enough. This system worked well while Hamonic was out, so Hamonic would be replaced easily. This second trade will require cap space to be freed so Nikolay Kulemin would be traded to a team interested for a draft pick. There has been a lot of speculation of a Matt Duchene trade. This is a trade Garth Snow should have made to fill the void of Frans Nielsen with an upgrade. Matt Duchene should have been acquired from the Colorado Avalanche for a first round pick, Brock Nelson/ Mathew Barzal/ Michael Dal Cole, and Devon Toews/ Ryan Pulock. There are a lot of possibilities in this trade so I just named them all. So Nielsen and Okposo were gone either way but if Garth Snow did the right thing he would have upgraded Okposo with Hall and Nielsen with Duchene, Matt Martin would an Islander.
With that took place that would meen that Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera would not sign as free agents with the Islanders, Dennis Seidenberg and Stephen Gionta would though. If those trades occurred this is are some possible line combinations on the Islanders (lets say Barzal and Toews were traded for Duchene, Barzal could go in place of Nelson) so here are the lines:
Hall- Tavares- Ho Sang
Lee- Duchene- Bailey
Beauvillier- Nelson- Strome
Martin- Cizikas- Clutterbuck
Prince- Quine- Gionta
De Haan- Seidenberg
I will leave a link to capfriendly.com to show the outlook of the team. The goalie situation is still the same as well. If these were the players on the Islanders today the Islanders would be a very dangerous team and have a good shot at being a cup contender. Keep in mind we are going to assume all of the players have the same skill level as play as they did this year, for example Anders Lee is still a 30 goal scorer and Josh Bailey is still a 50 point getter. So to conclude the Isles season could have been much different if Garth Snow knew what he was doing.