In the early stages of the offseason, New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow has made a splash, but his work shouldn’t be done yet.
Many questions surrounded the New York Islanders as they headed into the offseason, with the big one being what offensive weapon can Garth Snow add to help out captain John Tavares. Well, after a wild week of trades leading up to and following the Las Vegas expansion draft, Snow made one of his best moves since taking the reins of general manager when he sent Ryan Strome to the Edmonton Oilers for winger Jordan Eberle last week.
Rumors swirled around an Eberle trade leading up to the move being made. Some thought it would be Travis Hamonic heading to Edmonton, but it turned out to be the former first round pick Strome instead.
Two days after Snow made the deal for Eberle, he dealt Travis Hamonic to the Calgary Flames for a 2018 first and second round pick and a second round pick in either 2019 or 2020. With some picks being sent away to the Las Vegas Golden Knights to protect certain players during the expansion draft, Snow replenished draft picks with this deal while clearing some cap space.
After the trade was officially announced, rumors surfaced that Snow turned down a deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs involving Hamonic for James van Riemsdyk. Some criticized Snow turning down this deal, but for once I’ll stand on Snow’s side in this case.
James van Riemsdyk would be a great winger to have on the second line, but sending Hamonic, a top four defenseman to an upcoming Maple Leafs team wouldn’t be ideal. Remember, the Maple Leafs finished one point ahead of the Islanders for the last spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs last season. The team is only going to get better and giving a team that could use a top defenseman like Travis Hamonic would make them that much better. I’m not against trading in-conference if you’re getting a lot of value in return, but especially after getting a new offensive weapon in Jordan Eberle, it’s not worth it to give Hamonic to the young Maple Leaf team.
What To Do Next?
So far Garth Snow has done everything right in the early stages of the offseason. Now he has to keep pushing on the gas pedal and add a center for the second line. With that being said, Snow should continue to push hard for Matt Duchene.
It seems that Matt Duchene has been in trade rumors for years now (and by years I mean since the trade deadline). The Islanders have been rumored to be interested in the center since the trade deadline and have sparked interest again the past couple of weeks. However, Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic has set the bar too high for what he wants in return, hence why Duchene is still an Avalanche. Duchene has had a solid eight-year career, but he is coming off his worst season by far only tallying 41 points for a minus 34 rating, both career lows. Teams will not give up top prospects and draft picks for a guy that just posted numbers like that.
But eventually, Sakic has to come back down to earth and realize he has to sell lower. The Avalanche are heading into rebuild mode and it’s clear that Matt Duchene is not going to be apart of the future. It’s time to load up on draft picks and think about the future.
With the newly acquired picks from the Flames, perhaps Snow can flip some of these picks along with a forward like Brock Nelson to bring Duchene to Brooklyn. But for that to happen Sakic will have to lower his price and who knows when or if that will happen.
So if not Duchene who can the Islanders add to solidify the center position on that second line? As my colleague Justin Weiss wrote, Nick Bonino could fill that role. The 29-year-old center has been a winner his whole life from a New England high school championship to a NCAA tournament championship, and up until today helping the Pittsburgh Penguins win back-to-back Stanley Cups. Having veterans that have that playoff experience is valuable to any team. Weiss breaks down why Bonino would be a good addition to the Islanders which you can read here.
Another center on the market that caught my eye is the 27-year-old Sam Gagner. Gagner is a 10 year veteran of the NHL, spending time with four different teams. His most recent destination was with the Columbus Blue Jackets, where he had a career year putting up 50 points with a plus 10 rating. However, there have been rumors recently that Gagner and the Chicago Blackhawks have mutual interest, making it unlikely for the Islanders to be in play.
Much of the fanbase along with myself were demanding Snow to be ousted as general manager after the season, but Scott Malkin and John Ledecky held onto him. So far Snow has proved all of us wrong. Now it’s time for him to solidify this successful offseason and add a reliable second line center. This team has all the right pieces to contend for a Stanley Cup. If Snow can add a guy like Matt Duchene or Nick Bonino to the mix, the Islanders can be a legitimate contender out of the east.