Sources tell Arthur Staple that the New York Islanders will trade their first-round pick to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Update (7:50 p.m.): Staple reports that Vegas will choose between Jaroslav Hálak, Nikolai Kulemin and Thomas Hickey on Wednesday night.
Perhaps Garth Snow’s had a plan all along. On Monday, sources told TSN’s Darren Dreger and Newsday’s Arthur Staple that the Islanders have a deal in place with the Vegas Golden Knights.
If the initial reporting is accurate, the Isles will be sending their 2017 first-round pick and another piece — possibly Mikhail Grabovski — to Vegas in exchange for the selection of a designated player — reported to be Nikolai Kulemin — in the upcoming expansion draft.
In addition, Dreger reports that the Islanders could be making a sizeable trade later in the week, when rosters un-freeze and Kulemin’s $4.18-million cap hit comes off the books.
This is a remarkable turnaround for a front office that didn’t seem like it knew what it was doing just a couple of hours ago. The Islanders earned the distinction of being the only team in the NHL to protect 5 defensemen ahead of the expansion draft, and turned heads when they chose to protect Adam Pelech over Calvin de Haan, Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome.
But if this deal ends up coming to fruition, and Grabovski ends up being one of the pieces involved, this could be one of Snow’s biggest wins as GM of the club. After all, he’d be clearing $9-million in cap space in exchange for the 15 pick in what is a notably weak lottery draft.
With his team near the cap ceiling and in need of a top-6 forward, Snow needed to make room for another — potentially blockbuster — trade. This allows him the flexibility he needs to pull off a potentially franchise altering move (bringing in a bonafide star could help convince captain John Tavares to stay in Brooklyn).
In an oft-quoted interview with Newsday’s Staple, head coach Doug Weight stressed the importance of these few weeks on the team’s future. He was adamant that “any time we can try to make our team better, we will.” It appears that he’s telling the truth.
While this wouldn’t be the first sensible thing Snow has done, it sure would be one of his finest. Even if Grabovski isn’t involved, the trade wouldn’t be half bad — at least not in the short-term.
The focus now becomes the second-half of this trade. Will Snow be able to turn a surplus of defensemen into a legitimate offensive weapon? Or will his luck run out when it’s needed most?
Only time will tell.