Garth Snow’s decision not to make a trade ahead of the expansion draft could be a defining move for the New York Islanders.
Did anyone really expect a different outcome?
Okay, I’ll confess to it. We did. We really truly did. Despite Garth Snow’s paltry record on being aggressive at deadlines of all sorts, we thought this time would be different. We thought it had to be different.
On Thursday, I commented that there’s “no satisfactory alternative to not making a move.” That’s actually not completely true, as I’ll later discuss, but let’s be completely honest for a second: the alternative takes a lot less guts than executing a trade.
Wait, wait, wait… let’s backtrack for a second. The rosters of the league’s current 30 teams froze at 3 p.m. EST on Saturday ahead of the expansion draft on Wednesday evening. Which means that all moves had to be made before this deadline.
The Islanders notably remained silent, despite a tremendous amount of speculation that they would make a big splash (i.e. Jordan Eberle or Matt Duchene). So the team’s roster is locked, and the only thing to be done is Garth Snow’s submission of the protected players list. All other players, barring a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights, will be eligible to be picked.
If the Islanders go the 8 skaters and 1 goalie route, their list will look something along the lines of this:
Skaters (8): John Tavares, Andrew Ladd, Anders Lee, Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Ryan Pulock, Travis Hamonic, Calvin de Haan
Goalie (1): Thomas Greiss
Which means that they’ll likely lose either of Brock Nelson or Ryan Strome. Okay, not ideal, but not the end of the world, either. But what happens, and if we know Snow’s stubborn ways it’ll likely happen, if the Isles choose to protect one of Nelson or Strome, thereby leaving de Haan or Hamonic unprotected in the process?
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In that case, the Isles could negotiate a trade with Golden Knights general manager George McPhee to not plunk the team of that unprotected player. The asking price for that could be the Isles’ first-round pick this year, because hey, Vegas has two teams to fill: a current squad and a future one.
Or, Snow could choose to stay still, and thereby give de Haan or Hamonic away for pretty much nothing, despite having many opportunities to get a top-6 forward in return. As we’ve discussed ad nauseam, they really could use a top-6 forward.
Either way, it should all become much clearer at 10 a.m. Sunday, when the league releases the protected players lists and Vegas’ exclusive negotiating window with free agents opens. By then, it should be clear which direction the Isles are heading in, and if maybe, just maybe, they’ll be feeling a little aggressive.