New York Islanders Decision Making Gets Tricky With Expansion Draft Deadline Nearing 3
May 31, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA: General overall view of the T-Mobile Arena exterior on Las Vegas Blvd. on the Las Vegas strip. The facility will be the home of the NHL expansion franchise Vegas Golden Knights which will begin play during the 2017-18 season. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the NHL Expansion Draft a week away, the New York Islanders have key decisions to make regarding the future of the team.

The NHL offseason is officially underway and for the New York Islanders, a lot of the questions that have been asked since the season ended could soon be answered.

January 9, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Washington Capitals vice president and general manager George McPhee addresses the National Hockey League lockout during a press conference at the Westin New York in Times Square. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

First on the list is the NHL Expansion Draft for the Vegas Golden Knights which takes place on Jun. 21. The roster will be announced that night as part of the NHL Awards event at T-Mobile Arena. The NHL franchises must submit a list of protected players by Sunday at 10 a.m. ET. The Golden Knights will be required to select one player from each NHL roster.

Islanders General Manager Garth Snow is in an interesting spot very early in the offseason. The talk has been that he wants to add another top-six forward to the roster and this draft might help him add that asset. Snow and head coach Doug Weight are now carefully evaluating the roster making these key decisions.

According to the NHL, Clubs will have two options for players they wish to protect in the Expansion Draft:

  • a) Seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender
  • b) Eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender

*All players who have currently effective and continuing “No Movement” clauses at the time of the Expansion Draft (and who to decline to waive such clauses) must be protected (and will be counted toward their club’s applicable protection limits).

*All first- and second-year professionals, as well as all unsigned draft choices, will be exempt from selection (and will not be counted toward their club’s applicable protection limits).

The Islanders don’t have to worry about protecting young forwards Anthony Beauvillier, Josh Ho-Sang, and Matthew Barzal due to the service time.

Here is a list of predicted players that the Islanders will protect in the Expansion Draft …

  1. John Tavares F
  2. Johnny Boychuk D
  3. Nick Leddy D
  4. Andrew Ladd F
  5. Cal Clutterbuck F
  6. Casey Cizikas F
  7. Anders Lee F
  8. Ryan Pulock D
  9. Thomas Greiss G
  10. Ryan Strome F
  11. Travis Hamonic D

Of the 11 players listed, Tavares, Boychuk, Leddy, and Ladd all have no movement clauses in their contracts. Griess, Clutterbuck and Cizikas were signed to new deals late last season and are important pieces to this team. The other group of Lee, Strome, and Pulock are potential players the Islanders could lose if they don’t protect and to me, these are easy choices for Garth Snow to protect. It will also most likely end the wait for Ryan Pulock to get his consistent spot on the Islanders roster after short stints with the club over the last couple of seasons.

Dec 27, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic (3) shoots on goal during the second period against the Washington Capitals at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Travis Hamonic situation and spot on this list is one to monitor this week. The defenseman might be on the move in order to help the Islanders gain a top 6 forward which would then replace that spot. If the Islanders are able to pull off a trade then  Situation A is the the ideal route. If a trade cannot be completed then the Situation B of eight skaters and a goalie might be an option and still might be an option if Hamonic remains on the roster. This would make players such as Strome, Clutterbuck and Cizikas available to the Golden Knights.

Golden Knights GM George McPhee was an Advisor to the Islanders front office before taking this position. He knows this organization so it makes Garth Snow’s job a little more tricky. As far as who the Islanders could lose, players such as defenseman Calvin de Hahn and Thomas Hickey along with goaltender Jaroslav Halak who could depart this week.

After missing the playoffs this past season, the Islanders have a number of key decisions to make to return to serious contention next year. The Expansion Draft is only the start of a very important offseason for the Blue and Orange.

John Santamaria joins as a writer in March 2017. He is a graduate of New York Institute of Technology with an M.A. and B.F.A. in Communication Arts. John currently is a Technology teacher and prior to that was employed at MLB Advanced Media and CBS Sports Network. He also works as a Public Address Announcer for various colleges including his alma mater NYIT. John is a lifelong sports fan rooting for the Mets, Islanders, Jets, and Knicks.