Sixty-one games into the season, the New York Islanders have a good idea of what their short-comings are. For the first time in a long-time, Garth Snow must find a way to make a splash on March 1.
Low risk, high reward. The safe trade.
This year, the old way won’t cut it.
The Islanders are competing directly with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers and on some nights, the Boston Bruins, for the last wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. All four teams are, at most, four points away from each other. The fight for the playoffs will likely carry into the last game of the regular season with the Islanders and Senators facing off at the Barclays Center.
When Snow traded for Smyth that year in 2006-07 it was in a similar scenario. The Islanders were in the thick of a playoff race, and it was his first year as general manager. He needed to prove he was the guy for the job.
Once again, he finds himself in similar water.
With the Islanders separated by one point for the final spot and with Ledecky likely breathing down his neck for this season to end well, Snow must patch things over and save his job.
It’s been cited for most of the year that Snow has been avidly setting up trade scenarios and it is believed that at one point, just prior to Jack Capuano‘s firing, a deal involving Ryan Strome had been all-but-finalized with a mystery team.
Andy Graziano of SNY was quoted with this just before the Islanders loss, 3-2 to Pittsburgh in overtime, on Nov. 19, 2016.
“He also gave support to said roster, all while feverishly working the phones looking for offensive help.”
It would seem that Snow is well-aware of the team’s woes and has been working to fix them likely all season. The problem in an era like this is the salary cap not just on the opponents end, but on the Islanders end.
The days of signing Tim Thomas to sit at home and to meet the contract floor are long gone. The Islanders are a cap-ceiling team, even if they don’t look like it on the ice some nights.
But salary cap or not Snow has to find a way to plug the last hole he left in free agency last season.
Garth Snow, go get a true second-line center. No cost is too great anymore.