Expect NY Islanders To Examine NHL Draft Trade Market Before Depending On Free Agency For Improvements

Expect NY Islanders To Examine NHL Draft Trade Market Before Depending On Free Agency For Improvements



It is funny to read rumors and conjecture…and the panic and passion all tied to it as if it is the ONLY route. Right now the entire NHL is waiting with bated breath to get final word if the Salary Cap is getting rolled back a bit, or moving up a tick. This really dictates much of what we will see this summer.

For example: Isles fan favorite due to size, Milan Lucic, will likely stay in LA if it happens to go up enough. I am 100% certain, even if LA can’t foot that bill, where Lucic will stay out west. Maybe Vancouver? Maybe Edmonton. I do believe EVEN if the Islanders were willing to overpay, he wouldn’t come here.

MEANWHILE: anyone suggested big over-payment should have their head examined. Especially if they have been complaining about Grabovski and Kulemin.

The problem is that fans seem to not want to count the dollars or formulate much math these days. They smell the next step around the corner. We all do. Even the writers/bloggers seem to have fallen into this hole.


So it has been far too easy to be a peanut gallery without realities of cap (WHICH maybe contracting – everyone is unsure until the union votes), draft, expansion looming (waiting on decision there too), and players exerting choice in UFA.

The simplicity of “sign him” is comforting but far too simplistic.

MEANWHILE nobody is talking the more likely route of trades. Why? Because most have no clue who is and isn’t available and what asking price is or isn’t. So, this is why they seem harping/pushing one route over another thus far.

To be honest… there are so many moving parts here it’s hard for me to predict or even see a path for this blog in the trade market just yet. There are so many possibilities that haven’t even emerged yet.

So this summer, thanks to these limited scopes and vision: we will see a lot of UFA-logic applied where even if the Isles look to sign a player, when they don’t come to play, it will be because “Garth didn’t try hard enough”, and other faults. We will ignore the long line of top UFAs who have never come here year after year.

We will ignore the family decisions made on long-term commitments by players, who despite wanting to win, also have desires for living arrangement, area, taxes, quality of life, organization perception, and of course, money. We will all want them to play here, but fail to really weigh the complex and deep process and litany of items that affect the result.


Same thing is going on with UFA top dog, Steven Stamkos. Conjecture and hope has raised to new heights thanks to some funky math, overly optimistic fan musings, just plain unreasonable and far too low $$$ guesswork that it would take to have Stamkos come here.

As I have said numerous times, it’s not that the Isles wouldn’t want the talent and goals. They might even dip their feet in the pool on the off chance he is willing to come at a reasonable price. The chance of this, however, is minuscule. I believe it will require AT LEAST $12 million per year for 7 years, making John Tavares be priced near $13 each year come payday. JT’s camp is contingent on comparables. Kopitar (signed for 8 years $80 million) and Stamkos contracts matter to that argument.

In other words, the Islanders can’t AND will not do this. You can say they can, point to other teams (who locked in their top players quite a few years ago for less money), all you want. Fact is… still don’t think it will happen.

It is because we all seem to ignore the GLARING REALITY…

IF the Isles pin their hopes on the UFA period, they are already in trouble. Just look at their history here.



I believe that the NHL trade market, which should be around the draft, will be their best chance to fill roles and gaps. But who and what will happen is still hard to predict just now until cap settles out. I will put together a working list of those players, which will differ quite a bit from others list, as soon as the market comes clearer.

So let us take a look at our current team and situation, in the meantime:

Wing options are Anders Lee, who finally looked like his 14-15 self late in the season until he got hurt. Ryan Strome, who went from 50pts in 14-15 into a post-100 gm abyss. There were glimmers when placed with Mikhail Grabovski getting back to .5 pt per game pace. But then Grabo, invariably, got hurt and was out for the rest of the season. Strome stuttered again, BUT was NOT bad via the playoffs, despite his much-questioned benching by the coaching staff.

Strome is still a talent and that 50pts in his first full season DO matter.

This also means via NHL trade market, he DOES have value. Not a Nino situation by a longshot. I think Strome is the best piece to cull a young upgrade via trade (if not, Michael Dal Colle also plus more). If not dealt, still someone who can get back on track to 50pts or more.

Brock Nelson seemed to fade in the playoffs, which is far better than fading within the latter half of the season, like he did in 2014-15. So is conditioning the key? Despite some Isles fans ire and overwrought observation from “experts”, he was still middle of the pack on output via the playoffs. Above all, his 26 goals and season, overall was a step up from 2014-15.

No matter how you slice and dice it… Brock was one of the few last season who stepped forward.

Josh Bailey: regressed like Strome and Lee. He had his best year in 2014-15, and is needed to expand or get back to that or near it to be any kind of top 9 offensive solution. Meanwhile Nikolay Kulemin here dropped like a stone and belongs on line 3 or 4.

Speaking of Grabovski: he is a huge question mark due to concussions. Not even sure what happens there. Can’t be moved.

Matt Martin and Kyle Okposo are on their way out…something I warned you about since last summer. Only Frans Nielsen has best shot to be retained and can be used anywhere in top 6 to top 9. Thus, his pay will need to be to that average. Then again, the Isles DID end up giving Casey Cizikas quite a bit to play line 4 next season. So, we will see what Garth is willing to pay to keep a homegrown vet.

So, now… who can fill out rest? Well, let’s shoot down some silly UFA talk…



Stamkos: Sorry, I’ve killed this many ways. I don’t agree with anyone else numbers. So I repeat myself and say I see Stammer only coming to Brooklyn for about 12 million/+ per year. Many reasons: 1st and last is cost of living and taxes. Tavares WILL MAKE MORE. So that is at least 24-25 million (1/3 of cap) tied to two players for long-term. That just does not work, and I don’t care what you or anyone else says. I don’t see that happening.

So this and the fact that hoping on UFAs historically for the Isles… can’t be depended on. This means that the trade route has to be first and foremost in the NY Islanders offseason plans. This would have to happen around or at the NHL draft.

The market is very tricky. 29 other GMs are vying for pieces, as well. A massive chess match based on market value and organization’s long-term plans will take place. Meanwhile, the Isles are without their best trade piece with Travis Hamonic rescinding his trade demand.

So, ignoring on HOW the Isles can make a deal because we can’t quite predict that chess match…  we are stuck waiting on that market and situation to take shape so we can at least look at players who MIGHT fit the Isles needs who could be available or pried from another team….

One way you need to find possible/available players, is to use some analytics to see how much benefit and attributes that the Isles might covet.


The problem is…. you also need to weigh that in overall improvement. Is moving assets worth that player? Many players I see cited as targets (despite being too early due to those cap/expansion items) FAILS due to that final measuring stick.

Analytics is a wonderful thing, but it is used to get a true measurement of a player and to see if that player will fill certain gaps AND… above all… provide enough improvement to merit the cost to get them.


Most of all, I am surprised that fans aren’t talking about Malkin, instead of all this UFA talk….

Evgeni Malkin? BD, what are you nuts? You just said Stamkos was too much!!!

True… I did. But Malkin makes $9.5 million per year, and though 29 years old, is a generational talent.

He would also be $2 to 2.5 million per year less than Stamkos. So you have to weigh that as well. With both those factors in play… it is feasible, though I can’t say likely.

I see Malkin, if dealt, going West. But, this said… it is interesting, nonetheless, because Pittsburgh has cap issues, could use a lower cost replacements, and needs some low cost defense too.

All things the NY Islanders COULD provide.


Another thing to consider IS defensive upgrades:
MY question is could the Isles also look to make a switch on defense to get their possession game and puck moving to a higher level? I think this is VERY possible depending on scenario and opportunity. Travis Hamonic is a wonderful dman, but I still think he is a top 3, not a top 2 dman. I think he had to move to top pair due to Boychuk’s poor season.

Is a move here certain? Hell no. But something to think about.



There are also those teams in flux where some players are not high on the coaches list (Colorado Avalanche), team with changes who need to assess future plans (Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames, Phoenix…oops….Arizona Coyotes, Caroline Hurricanes), and those teams who will need to move $$ fast if the cap doesn’t jump upward (Chicago Blackhawks, LA Kings, Tampa Bay, etc). Some might be willing to deal a top wing IF they are a year or two away from free agency. OR if they feel they are getting upgraded by Isles players. Unless, of course, that team is in FULL REBUILD. Then they might be willing to take just prospects and picks.


Whatever happens, be certain it is the NHL trade market… despite still murky and unclear… that is key to the Islanders taking the next step. Not the UFA market.


Whatever happens, make sure to bring your….




About B.D. Gallof


  1. Brooks Simpson

    *Arizona* Coyotes.

  2. You say a lot here… but not really anything at the same time…lol.

    • Think of it this way: UFA will not go the way writers/bloggers/fans subscribe to. Maybe smaller pickup. Trade is the ONLY way we will see a big change IF it comes together. Otherwise, team will hinge on Lee/Strome getting back to their 14-15 play.

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