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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

New York Islanders Off-Season: KoC 2017 Entry & Expanison Draft Preview

John Tavares is willing to wait in order to sign with the New York Islanders. He likes it here and has always been a team guy, but he also wants to win. His agent, Pat Brisson, mentioned that he and his client like the way the off-season has gone so far for the organization based on the changes with the coaching staff. They are probably waiting to see how the roster will look as the July 1st open to the free agency period gets closer. Per Arthur Staple, “If -- and that's a big if -- the #Isles decide to trade Tavares, there's about a 0.0 percent chance they deal with a team in the division. Meanwhile, nothing has been decided with Tavares. Still hearing he's leaning towards staying.” B.D. Gallof adds, “I'll say it again ... according to #isles teammates, JT will re-sign. Take it for what it’s worth. (lot more than rumor du jour, I think).”

As many speculate, the Isles will probably trade/package their 1st round pick (15th overall) for an impact player. And for the first time in quite a while, several of the Isles 2017 picks could be traded to sweeten a deal or two for players they feel are ready to help them improve, right now. That doesn’t mean there is no chance they draft a prospect that is on their list, I’m just saying picks should be far less important this year because John Tavares, the ownership and the rest of Isles country want to win now.

Rumors swirling around Jordan Eberle or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins from Edmonton and Isles favorite fan target, Matt Duchene from Colorado have been bouncing around since the season deadline came and went. At the time, it was said the price was too high for either player to be added to the Islanders roster. Will that change next week? I am more of a Duchene fan, but the cost should be steep. Per @NHLRumorsDaily, “From what I've been hearing, Avs and Isles talked centered around a Barzal and Hamonic for Duchene deal … Folks, im giving you what I hear and stand by what my sources tell me. NYI have an offer for Duchene and its just Hamonic as far as i know.” Gord Miller of TSN says the Isles are front runners. There also seems to be a cool-down on Eberle, “Hearing talks between NYI & EDM have cooled down. EDM not willing to give up RNH just yet, but NYI still keen on just Eberle.” And the Kovalchuk rumors have swirled about the metro-area since he announced he may want to play in the NHL again. Per Arthur Staple on Kovalchuk, “#Isles not interested either, from what I've heard.” That’s a good thing to me. And I'm sure there are a slew of targets off most of our collective radar.

The New York islanders have the 1st round/15th selection, 2nd/46th, 3rd/77th, 5th/139th, 7th/201st picks in the NHL Entry Draft in Chicago on Friday, 6/23 and Saturday, 6/24. Focusing on the first round, there are a few good options available for New York to replace a few likely-to-transition players like Josh Ho-Sang, Adam Pelech & Scott Mayfield, especially with expansion implications in-play.

My KoC list of possible players Isles can draft with the 15th pick:

1) Martin Necas, C, Kometa Brno (Czech), 6’0 – 169#
A strong, fast skater with good ability to open the ice and create scoring opportunities on net or to a team-mate. Captained the Czech Repulic at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup, netting 6 points in the tourney.

2) Juuso Valimaki, LD, Tri-City (WHL), 6’2, 201#
Strong, two-way, dependable D-Man who can give big minutes and add an offensive threat to the rush. He is known for his vision and playmaking ability.

3) Ryan Poehling, C, St. Cloud State (NCHC), 6’3, 185#
A very smart and quick forward who can change the flow and tilt of a game instantly. Creates offensive opportunities out of nothing with strong skating and is hard to separate from the puck.

4) Nicholas Suzuki, C, Owen Sound Attack (OHL), 5’11, 183#
Smallish Center who is improving each season. A gifted passer, known for a combination of hockey IQ, skating prowess and calm under pressure. Known as an “underrated finisher.”

5) Lias Andersson, C-LW, HV71 (SWE), 5’11, 198#
A gritty, two-way forward, an excellent skater that is quick off the line and highly mobile. Good at creating chances and has good hands. Strong work ethic and natural leader.

The last time the New York Islanders were slotted at pick number fifteen, Snow picked Ryan Pulock at the 2013 Draft. I expect a possibility of moving some later picks along with prospects or rostered players over the next few weeks to make deals happen. I’m not saying they will trade all of them either. They usually always draft a goaltender and a defensemen to replenish the prospect pool in the system. OHL D-Man Lyle Brady could be a 2nd round target and Dylan Coghlan may still be available in the 3rd round when the Isles are scheduled to select. As far as goaltenders, I like OHL Memorial Cup winner, Michael DiPietro (not related) a lot, but I suspect he will be taken earlier than the Isles can select him. He was awarded the HAP EMMS Memorial Trophy as “Outstanding Goaltender” and also named to the Memorial Cup All-Star team. Stuart Skinner (WHL) might not be around either. That would be because the big, athletic, goal scoring netminder has been called one of the most exciting prospects since Carey Price. His disappointing performance at last spring’s U18 tournament might help him slide into the Islanders grasp and only add to the Isles already strong goaltending depth.

The NHL Expansion Draft will be on Wednesday, June 21st. The Vegas Golden Knights have the option to poach quality players from the other 30 teams in the league and they should be competitive right from the start. At least when they find their chemistry. Under the expansion selection rules, each of the 30 NHL teams will lose exactly one player to the Vegas Golden Knights. Some teams have asked lower claim-risk, older or higher paid players with a no-move clause in their contract, to wave them in order to protect other key, non-protected players, based on the risk they would be more likely claimed by Las Vegas. To my knowledge, the Isles didn’t ask any players waive their no-move clause. The Islanders went through a similar process when they came into the NHL in 1972.

Certain GM’s may already have a relationship with Golden Knights GM, George McPhee. Garth Snow and he know each other well, and Snow may be able to broker a deal that involves prospects or picks that might keep McPhee away from a rostered player that Snow may want to retain, or even trade for a more important team asset. Islanders defensemen, Calvin de Haan and to a lesser extent, Thomas Hickey have been the chosen targets of several analysists in the hockey world to be sought by the Vegas Golden Knights from the Islanders. I believe all teams can protect (seven forwards, three defensemen or eight skaters. I’d say based on value (and NMC), the Isles will protect players they expect would be taken based on overall value, skill, etc. A commonly seen and probable list of possibilities include John Tavares, Andrew Ladd, Anders Lee, Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome, Casey Cizikas, Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Travis Hamonic and Thomas Greiss is a most likely scenario for the Isles to protect. Injured NHL players, like Islanders forward, Mikhail Grabovski are exempt from upcoming Vegas expansion, per NHL Players Asscoaition Guidelines.

On defense, the Hamonic-de Haan protection debate is a valid one based on injury history, but NY probably values cornerstone, Travis Hamonic over a skilled Calvin de Haan, who has improved each season he has played with the Isles IMO. Per @incarceratedbob, “Underrated/underappreciated Dman Calvin de Haan has 5 teams chasing #Leafs #Sabres #Oilers leading charge #Vegas #Kings in it. Bad idea if Snow moves de Haan for draft pick.. real bad 26 years old, eats up minutes, stays healthy + improves yearly Don't do it.” The forwards Nelson-Strome debate is another point of contention to some fans. While both have been lights-out at times, they have also struggled. Strome is currently a bigger question mark than Nelson to me.

Other valuable players like Cal Clutterbuck or Jaroslav Halak probably wouldn’t be chosen based on age, salary, etc, but you never know. The Isles also have some blue chips (you already know the list) ready to jump off this season, which would make a second-tier loss, a seemingly more acceptable sacrifice in the eyes of the organization. And Matthew Barzal made a huge splash this summer after helping Seattle win their first ever WHL title while also being named playoff MVP.

Per Bob McKenzie, “For those asking, NHL trade/waiver freeze and signing moratorium runs from 3 pm ET Sat. June 17 until 8 am ET Thur June 22. EXCEPT... Beginning 10 am ET on Sun June 18, VGK can make deals with other clubs tho those 30 clubs can only make deals with VGK until freeze ends.”

The trades have already started last night and the Islanders should be looking to move some pieces around. We must wait and see if any are moved prior to the Draft or July 1st start of free agency or summer and into camp. Right now, Garth Snow has the wheel. 

Let’s hope he keeps the Islanders on course.

Isles Notes:

Per Islanders, Isles announce a preseason game at Nassau Coliseum on Sept. 17 vs. the Flyers, play Rangers in preseason games on 9/18 and then at the home of the BST on 9/22 at Webster Bank Arena.

6/8       Brian Compton, "Greg Cronin will remain on #Isles coaching staff next season."

6/14     According to Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal, Kelly Buchberger to the Isles Coaching Staff is coming.

Steve Bernier has agreed to terms on a two-year, two-way (NHL/AHL) deal.

Brett Yormark: Won’t change Barclays Center to try to keep Islanders.

NY top court blocks Willets West mall near Citi Field.

Mike Bossy’s letter to his younger self from Player’s Tribute.

Sound Tigers Notes:

The #SoundTigers have signed Matt Gaudreau (F) for the 2017-18 season.

NHL Notes:

Per @CapFriendly, “NHL Buyout window is now officially open. Two players, Greene #Kings & Girardi #Rangers, have already been made aware they'll be bought out.”

SB Nation, “NHL salary cap could see unusually high rise in 2017-18, per report.”

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