The New York Islanders Are Running Out of Time
Mar 5, 2017; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; New York Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan (44) during the face off against the Calgary Flames during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

With the expansion draft looming, New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow will need to make a move sooner rather than later.

On Tuesday, Darren Dreger appeared on Montreal’s TSN 690 with a simple observation: the Islanders would rather trade Calvin de Haan than Travis Hamonic.

Here’s the thing, though: they’re running out of time to trade either of them.

The expansion draft will take place a week from Wednesday, on June 21. Realistically speaking, it’s simply not feasible for New York to protect both de Haan and Hamonic — two young blueliners with high ceilings and team-friendly deals (the former is a restricted free agent).

For that reason, Garth Snow is almost certainly attempting to move one of these guys. There have been rumors that the Isles are seeking to fetch Matt Duchene or Jordan Eberle in return, but a team has little leverage when desperately trying to make a trade.

There’s no satisfactory alternative to not getting a deal done. Even if the Islanders protect both players (as well as Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, and Ryan Pulock), they’re bound to lose a quality contributor, just at a forward position, where they have less depth, to begin with.

The onus will be placed on Snow, who has been the subject of the fanbase’s ire over the past couple of seasons. This dilemma is unlike anything he’s had to deal with before. It complicates what is already an active couple of weeks — a three-week stretch that already encompasses the lottery draft, the start of free agency and release of the preseason schedule.

Said head coach Doug Weight last week, “It’s an important three weeks for our organization, no doubt. We want to get better, not take a step back.”

Both Weight and Snow have had their hands full since the season ended with the Islanders a mere point out of a playoff spot. Besides for preparing for weeks like those upcoming, the two have hired a new slate of assistant coaches — everybody from Kelly Buchberger to Luke Richardson to Scott Gomez — and have been mulling potential targets.

Casting a broad shadow over the entire offseason is the status of captain John Tavares, who will become a free agent after the 2017-18 season. He’s eligible to sign an extension on July 1 of this year, and Weight has been keeping him in the loop of the team’s decision-making process.

“He’s our captain and our best player,” Weight said. “He’s also mature and intelligent about the game and all he wants to do is win. This isn’t about appeasing — he has a great hockey mind. I’d be crazy not to bounce things off him.”

What complicates Snow’s impending expansion draft decision is that the two rumored trade pieces are trending in opposite directions. De Haan, 26, earned rave reviews for his performance with the Isles and Team Canada. Meanwhile, Hamonic, also 26, had a season to forget between injuries and poor performances.

When all is said and done, Snow is going to have to pull the trigger before Wednesday night. It’s now just a matter of him pulling it.

Justin Weiss is a staff editor at Elite Sports New York, where he covers the New York Islanders and Brooklyn Cyclones. In 2016, he received a Quill Award for Freelance Journalism. He has written for the Long Island Herald, FanSided and YardBarker.