An independent blog on the New York Islanders, the NHL and AHL by a guy from New York.

Monday, February 22, 2016

KoC: 2016 Isles Trade Deadline Preview

Your New York Islanders are 6-3-1 in their last ten and had some big games, including a 4-1 win against Detroit and a 1-0 win on the road in New Jersey.  But right now, they are on a 6 game road trip that starts in Minnesota tomorrow and ends in Manhattan against their arch rivals on March 3rd.  The Isles sit in Metro’s 3rd spot behind the Rangers by 5 points and their conference standings battle won’t get any easier with the playoffs looming.

With the NHL trade deadline closing in (2/29 at 3 p.m. eastern) and an uncertain salary cap for the 2016-17 season, GM’s should be even more guarded on player trades.  That doesn’t mean teams out of contention or those wanting to shed salary, wouldn’t consider moving a commodity if the price is right.  Especially those who deal in the Canadian dollar.  While they could be sellers to a point, your New York Islanders are in the hunt and will most likely ride out the deadline by keeping Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsend and Travis Hamonic on the roster and take their chances on resigning them in the summer or entertaining trades prior to free agency.  Snow won’t be likely to do much right now and isn’t likely to give up anything substantial unless the right deal could come around with similar returns.  They even let former D FA target, Christian Ehrhoff clear waivers instead of putting in a claim that would have only cost them the remainder of his $1.5M salary.

If a trade is done by the NYI, it would be for an upgrade that fits their plan.  Garth Snow isn’t the kind of GM that goes for a right now, big splash kind of acquisition.  While an aging, pending free agent to be could be a possibility, they would need to fit the scheme and be valuable enough for the Isles to give up only expendable assets.  Secondary prospects would be a more likely commodity, but their return probably won’t bring back a significant haul unless packaged with a few more pieces. And the Isles 1st round draft pick would be available, but only for a can’t-say-no deal in my opinion.

Sure, I’d like to grab P.K. Subban from MTL or guys like Nail Yakapov, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or a Jordan Eberle from the Oil, but their prices will probably be more than the Isles would give up at the deadline.  But I do have a short list of five good players that I could see in the lineup for the Islanders for the right deal.  While these guys are good and valuable players, I wouldn’t say all of them would exactly break the bank, but I would say they are good at particular areas of the game. 

1.  Andrew Ladd, WPG, LW, 6’3, 200#, 30 yrs old

As the current captain of the Winnipeg Jets, Ladd is the kind of player of may help the Isles take that final step in the forward position.  Ladd is deceptively efficient around the net with 40 goals and 95 points in 139 games over the last 2 seasons. Ladd fits the Isles character profile and can boast a 2 time Stanley Cup resume and provide grit, special teams and be rotated throughout the lineup.

2.  Scott Hartnell, CBJ, LW, 6’2, 214#, 33 yrs old

Hartnell is the kind of player you hate unless he is on your team. You might also say with guys like Martin, Cizikas and Clutterbuck, the Isles don’t need to trade for a player like him.  But he is a gritty player who makes goaltenders miserable with his play in front of the net and is defensively skilled enough to fill in on the PK.  He would add even more depth to a talented Isles squad.  Hartnell has 37 pts (18 & 19) in 57 GP so far this season.

3.  Jiri Hudler, CGY, C, 5’10,183#, 32 yrs old

Jiri Hudler is a small center, a player you can argue that the Isles do not need.  But keep in mind Hudler is a season removed from 76 points in 78 GP and boasts a lot of offensive skill.  He has 33 points in 51 games could add versatility to a talented forward group in Brooklyn.

4.  Brent Seabrook CHI, D, 6’3, 220#, 30 yrs old.

Seabrook is good enough to be a core player, but he is also playing a team with limited cap room and a very deep blue line.  Much like Leddy, Seabrook could possibly be pried loose for less than you might think and would immensely help the Islanders on defense and offensively contribute (37 pts so far) from the back end.  This would be especially true after the departure of Hamonic if he could be financially retained.  He is a steady and reliable defensemen who has a flair for the big goal.

5.  Mark Giordano, CGY, D, 198#, 32 yrs old

With 37 points on the season so far, Giordano has been one of the most reliable blue liners in the NHL over the past few seasons.  Although he is coming off injury, Giordano is a good leader and solid skater and has strong PP and offensive ability.  After a slow start to the season, he has come on in a big way including a streak of 27 points in 27 games at the start of February.

While its more likely that the Islanders hold fast and watch other teams make noise at the deadline, it is possible Snow decides to add a piece or two in Brooklyn.  Sometimes, the right player can make a good team even better and the NYI are starting to come down to the most crucial part of the 2015-16 campaign.  Do the Islanders have a roster Snow and Capuano will choose to ride into the era of the Islanders new majority ownership?

Time will tell.

Isles Notes:

Ryan Pulock has been recalled from loan (Bridgeport).

Hockey Notes:

The KHL is expanding to China.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Cerberus In Brooklyn

Your New York Islanders are 4-3 in the month of February following the All-Star break.  While they have some games at hand over teams ahead of them in the playoff race, the 29-19-6 Isles have fallen to 4th in the Metro and 8th in the eastern conference.  That puts them just 1pt ahead of the 9th place Penguins.  They enjoyed an 8-1 thumping of the Oilers last Sunday and helped J-F Berube to his first NHL win a couple of days later against the Wild.  They are doing a lot of things well, but still suffering from inconsistencies that are limiting their performance against eastern conference teams.  While special teams (11th ranked PP w 6 goals in last 5 games and 2nd ranked PK at 86.6%) are still holding and their offense is surging a little bit behind the improved play of John Tavares (6 & 9 for 14 in last 9 games) and the first line as a whole (Grabovski 25pts & Strome 21pts.)

Jaroslav Halak has a 13-12-0 record with a .914Sv% and a 2.42gaa so far this season.  Halak has had some very strong games, but has fallen off a bit after breaking the team record for wins last year.  Thomas Greiss has slowly outpaced Halak from the back up spot going 15-6-0 with a .930Sv% and a 2.21gaa in slightly less games between the pipes for New York.  Greiss has been very good when called upon and is certainly a solid safety net for his team just past the midpoint.  It must also be noted that Halak has missed some time due to injury and has not played a starter’s share of games for Capuano’s Islanders so far.  In his last outing against the Carolina Hurricanes, Halak was pulled after two periods of play in a 6-3 loss behind a shaky defensive effort.

Isles prospect goaltender, J-F Berube got his first NHL win vs the Minnesota Wild in a strange call-up, coming directly after the All-Star break.  The reports had Berube recalled by Jack Capuano for his prior 4-0 performance the week before in Bridgeport (0.97 GAA and .967 SV%) and will apparently be one of the Islanders 3 goaltenders going forward according to the coach.

So how secure are the Islanders in net if the coaching staff needs to rely on their back up so heavily and use a 3rd goaltender in the rotation for the rest of the season?  Is Jaro Halak still the number one? Is he more injury prone than the team wants to admit and will their apparent stability in goal start to become suspect as April gets closer?  Will the Isles uncertainty with Travis Hamonic and the future plans of free agents Like Okposo and Nielsen be ignored until the off season?  As the trade deadline approaches, the Islanders are still in the thick of things with no reason to panic, but I think they have some serious concerns to reflect on in the coming weeks.

Will a three headed monster in net be enough to make it past the 1st round of the NHL playoffs for this year’s team?

Isles Notes:

Brett Yormark’s comments about fans being able to use the jumbo-tron and cell phones to make up for obstructed views and the Barclays apparent ban on “If You Are Happy And You Know It” chant are just the latest topics are really not making positive strides among the fan base.  

UPDATE:  Yormark responded on Twitter by saying the song was not banned and fans would hear it on Monday.  This may be another concession based on the fans outcry.  If that is the case, good job by Barclays.

Per Arthur Staple, Kyle Okposo's 500th NHL game on 2/9 vs Columbus made only him the second African-American player to come up through the US amateur ranks to do so.

The New York Islanders game against the Philadelphia Flyers that was postponed on Saturday, January 23, has been rescheduled for Sunday, April 10 at 7PM and will be their final regular season game of the season.

“Isles equipment manager Scott Boggs named Team Europe's head equipment manager for 2016 World Cup.”

The Islanders have 1-1st Rd, 1-3rd, 1-4th, 1-6th & 1-7th round pick in this summer’s NHL Entry Draft.

@swedishislander “Congrats to @jsundstrom12 and @frolunda hc to the Champions Hockey League European Trophy today! #Isles #Soundtigers