While New York Islanders fans would prefer for players to be flocking to Brooklyn, it shouldn’t be alarming that they’re not.
On Thursday, Craig Custance of ESPN conducted a poll of agents to determine which teams were listed on the most player no trade clauses.
For the second consecutive season, the Islanders came in third on this list. Here’s the roundup, via Dan Saraceni of Lighthouse Hockey:
“The idea that John Tavares could potentially leave makes them very undesirable until they get their [stuff] together,” said an agent. “Part of the problem is the setup. The players hate the setup there.”
Another agent echoed that thought via e-mail: “I don’t think the setup in Brooklyn/Long Island has anyone excited.”
Both of the problems that these agents addressed — the never-ending stadium saga and John Tavares’ impending decision — are valid. But there are a couple of reasons why this doesn’t spell doom for the Islanders.
Firstly, this isn’t necessarily indicative of the Isles’ current situation. For decades, Long Island has been a place that players dread coming to, but almost always end up loving. That was the case with Lubomir Visnovsky and Evgeni Nabokov, two veterans who didn’t hear good things about the Island until they moved there.
Second, and perhaps more encouraging, while the Island hasn’t become a hotbed for free agents, the Isles have still managed to haul in guys like Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera, while inking guys like Nick Leddy, Casey Cizikas and Johnny Boychuk to long-term deals.
Tavares, the superstar center who will become an unrestricted free agent following the 2017-18 season, has repeatedly praised the organization and its fanbase. If he’s content here (and there are no indications that he isn’t), how bad could it really be?
Finally, people have to ask themselves the following question: How many players actually have no trade clauses? Very few. Those who do likely have “longstanding negative opinions about the Isles,” one commenter on LHH wrote, because these players “have been around the league far longer.”