Today with a certain amount of fanfare and the bordering of a national holiday for the NHL, the trade deadline came and went with the various action and inaction among the thirty teams in the National Hockey League. Whether it was the transfer of goalies to Florida, Dallas, and St. Louis or the swapping the of captains between the Lightning and Rangers, today and the last few days brought intrigue and prepped a number of teams to be in position for the playoffs, whereas others began to restock and refit for either next season or the future.
Then there are the New York Islanders, a franchise considered to be on the ups, based on recent draft history and the hopes that they are finally turning the corner, but at the same time are still mired in a consistent incompetency that has been a common theme for quite some. Although they are coming off a playoff berth in last year’s shorten season, the Islanders this season are for the most part out of the playoff race this season, due to a poor start earlier in the season which left them behind in the Metropolitan Division, but was finally put on ice with the injury to John Tavares during the Olympics.
At this deadline, the Islanders for the most part were considered to be sellers, dumping off talent of free agents to be, especially those that could help a team in the playoff hunt, but also with an eye to continue building by possibly bringing in a veteran presence or more talent that can be built up or molded for next season of more so in the future. The first move that the Islanders made at the deadline, was soon-to-be free agent dump, by sending 27 year old Defense man Andrew MacDonald to the Philadelphia Flyers, in return the Islanders received a 3rd round pick for this year’s draft NHL Entry Draft, and a 2nd round pick in next year’s draft. Along with the picking up of picks, the Islanders also got Long Islander, 24 year old Forward Matt Mangene, who will most likely spend the rest of the season in Bridgeport, unless he shines or there is a lack of depth on the roster. His entry contract is also up at the end of the season, and it is more considered to be unexpected that he will be re-signing in the off season.
On the other side of this trade, is Andrew MacDonald who was drafted by the Islanders in the sixth round, 160th overall in the 2006 draft, had a solid career with the Isles, especially in his primary role as a shot blocking Defense man, a category that he leads the league in with 198. He will be rejoining former teammate Mark Streit in the City of Brotherly Love. The reason for the move by GM Garth Snow, was for one reason, was that MacDonald had become more of a liability for the Islanders on defense, with turnovers, but the the money factor also came into play as well, as MacDonald’s contract was soon to expire, and in turn it was better to bring in picks than to continue contract talks, as the Islanders and MacDonald with at odds in recent talks. It was an opportunity to stock up again for the future.
While this move made some sense, the day of the trade deadline in the NHL, would see the Islanders once again make a move that was just simply frustrating to comprehend. Earlier in the season, the Isles traded to Matt Moulson, a 1st round pick, and a 2nd round pick to the Buffalo Sabres for Thomas Vanek, who was to be a free agent at the end of the season, but there was some hope the maybe the Islanders could keep him for no only this season. As the teams hopes of rebounding began to sink faster than a lead weight, the prospect of holding onto Vanek began to shrink as well, as the Islanders were know facing Vanek! At the Disco. (You thought there wouldn’t be a bad pun, where here it is) Putting Vanek on the market, was to be a big bargaining chip for the Islanders, as it had the potential to land a player of quality close but not exactly at the level of Vanek, or possibly address a specific need on the team.
Instead the Islanders failed to take advantage in landing something of a package or even address the needs of the team. Vanek was shopped by a number of teams, with the early contending be the Ducks, who looked to either have a deal in place or were in the process of making one, but plans fell through. Instead that the trade that the Islanders would send Thomas Vanek off to the Montreal Canadiens along with a conditional fifth round draft pick, in turn the Islanders received a conditional second round pick and Canadiens prospect Forward Sebastian Collberg, who has been touted as the fourth best prospect in the Canadiens system, but based off his numbers, appears to be no more than a mediocre prospect, someone who will be more likely to fill a position in need as a short term and spend more time at Bridgeport. However, with the right work, and the addressing of strength issues, Collberg does a solid upswing, especially with his speed. The condition for the swapping of picks, is based off if the Habs make the playoffs, which looks to be in good shape at the moment.
While Vanek was without a doubt the most coveted piece on the market, the Islanders missed an opportunity to get possibly more than just a questionable prospect and draft picks. The club had to very specific needs that could have been addressed in with trading away Vanek, one was aid for a porous defense and the other a leaky goaltender. While the Isles do have a number of defensive prospects, they still could have taken someone as a short term or even adding another veteran. With the goal tending issues, there were about 8 or 9 goalies on the market, while it was unlikely that they were to land Ryan Miller, they still could have made a move for Jaroslav Halak or even if it was possible to bring Roberto Luongo back to his original destination, when he was drafted. Instead Snow when for a prospect and more picks, while with the MacDonald trade it seemed like a good offer, with this one, Vanek was a master bargaining chip that he failed to take advantage of and ultimately ended with the Islanders basically walking away with nearly nothing to show for. Its also a shame too given that if it was assumed early on that the Islanders would not build off of last year, then Vanek possibly may not have been traded to the Islanders in the first place, but then again hind sight can be 20/20.
In short for fans of this franchise it has been on infuriating step after another, and now the Vanek deal has added, unless Snow knows something that the average fan does not, which could be true. There is a light at the end of the tunnel though, that is free agency is in four months and really anything is possible for the Islanders to land someone then, which could be in the works as even while this year is a wash, this team still has solid level of talent to build upon. In the short term, though Snow missed a big chance to draw more from Vanek, and ultimately came up very short of this. It will be interesting to see what the club does going forward in the draft and off season, but for now even while they are down and out, the Islanders should still not be given up on, throw thick and thin there will be a silver lining for the future.
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