While the New York Rangers were busy winning at the NHL’s trade deadline, Garth Snow and the New York Islanders were, once again, asleep at the wheel.
If the New York Islanders were a ship, they’d be a rudderless one, floating aimlessly at sea with no real direction. For while the rival New York Rangers dove headfirst into a bold rebuild, the Isles did nothing.
Clearly, none of the shot callers in Brooklyn were paying attention to what was going on across the East River, where Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton was given the greenlight by owner James Dolan to embark on a massive rebuild.
Once he got going, Gorton never took his foot off the accelerator.
The goal? To turn the Rangers into perennial Stanley Cup contenders once again. While the Isles can score goals on the ice, they have no actual goal for the organization.
Take a real look at what the Rangers did here. In exchange for six players—only two with any real upside in Ryan Graves and J.T. Miller, by the way—they acquired nine players and six draft picks, five of which fall in the first three rounds of the next three drafts.
They swapped bottom-six forwards with Anaheim, acquiring Chris Wagner in exchange for Jason Chimera. And they added a bottom-pairing defenseman in Brandon Davidson, sending Edmonton a third-round pick in exchange.
The cherry on top of those moves? Both players were available to the team at no cost whatsoever earlier in the season on waivers.
But that’s par for the course for the Isles, a team that under general manager Garth Snow has absolutely no idea what it’s doing. The absentee landlords masquerading as NHL owners, Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky, fall into the same clueless boat.
And I mean clueless with a capital “C.”
— SP19hockey (@SP19hockey) February 27, 2018
In fact, Ledecky continues to prove that the only thing he knows how to do is act like an overgrown cheerleader.
Hey Ledecky, Sparky and I have the mascotting covered. Why don’t you put the pom poms away and act like an owner that wants to put out a successful product #isles #SnowMustGo #drainthebarc pic.twitter.com/oS0Z7KKgg3
— YeSUV🚙 (@IslesWhiteSUV) March 4, 2018
Nobody—not Snow, Malkin, or Ledecky—can say with a straight face that they believe the Islanders are serious contenders in the 2017-18 season.
So why not trade John Tavares to the highest bidder? Sure, it’d be nice to have him spend his entire career in an Isles jersey, and he’s consistently said all the right things when asked about his future.
But he’s also given the Islanders a guarantee that he’ll re-sign after the season that’s as high as John Blutarsky’s grade point average at Faber College.
None. Zero. Nada.
Were the Isles going to get a package commensurate with Tavares’ talent level? Of course not. But they could have added a couple of players and picks—all which could have been used as a further selling point to woo JT back to the club.
All it would have taken was a bit of honesty from the brain trust. Imagine a pitch like this to Tavares at the trade deadline.
“Hey John, listen. We know how loyal you are, and we want you to spend the rest of your career with this team. But we also want to give you a chance to chase Lord Stanley’s Cup, which is something we can’t offer this season. So we’re going to trade you to (insert legit contender here). We are still hellbent on re-signing you after the season, but you deserve this opportunity. You’ve earned it. By making this deal, we believe we can put you in a better position—with more high-end talent around you—to bring a fifth Stanley Cup to this franchise in the future.”
Would it have been risky? Absolutely. Tavares winds up on a contender, makes a deep playoff run (or wins it all) and falls in love with his new club, deciding to leave the dysfunction of the Islanders behind him.
But from everything we know about Tavares, it seems like that kind of gesture would have been appreciated by the captain. In fact, it may have only strengthened his resolve to finish what he started with the Isles.
Instead, the pitch was “Hey John, we’ve added two mediocre players who were on waivers a few months ago, guys who don’t bring us any closer to making the playoffs, much less contending for a Stanley Cup.”
So while Ledecky is busy cheering for a losing, directionless team, Malkin is busy counting his money (a fair assumption, given the fact that he’s hardly ever seen or heard from) and Snow’s arrogance about keeping a job he’s been in far too long oozes out of Brooklyn, the Rangers have set themselves up for longterm future success in Manhattan.
There’s a lesson to be learned here. Sadly, the Islanders missed that class—and haven’t asked anyone else for the notes.