Which New York Islanders would you trade? What would you expect in return? What's the minimum price before you part with your favorites?
With four days left before the Islanders resume post-All-Star break play, it's a good time to take stock in where the club is and what needs to be done this month, at the draft, and in free agency. This will be a four-part series, covering their current roster, Scott Gordon's system's chances for success, the offseason moves, and the club's future non-hockey moves with the Lighthouse and vague relocation threats.
Episode I: Trade Deadline 'Round the Bend
Grant that the Islanders are in full rebuild mode this year -- but what type of team can they expect to be next season? Even presuming the worst/best case of a) winning the lottery; b) grabbing Tavares; c) Tavares immediately helping, can one really expect next season to be anything but Rebuilding, Year 2? Particularly given the uneven progress of their youngest NHL-level assets? Fans can tolerate one year in the tank, but there will need to be signs of progress (you'd think fewer injuries will help) to keep things from getting truly dismal in Year 2, and that might require some veteran reinforcement.
With that in mind, which veterans do you keep around to make next season more palatable? Or, if you shed every veteran, which free agent veterans can you hope to lure to Long Island to make the same impact as Doug Weight or Mark Streit?
|2008 - Doug Weight||37||7||25||32||-11||25||5||0||0||1||68||10.3|
Doug Weight -- I've already shared why Weight might be the vet you want to keep. After a foot injury, he's resumed skating now, so he could be back to form before the trade deadline, where he would be the Isles' most valuable expendable trade chip. But who'd bid? The one repeated partner and rumor is Columbus and a guy like Marc Methot, a 6'3", 225-lb. defenseman who may be a reach. Considering the Islanders need bigger D-men who can fit Gordon's system, do you deal Weight if you can catch that in return? Do you deal Weight even if only for a 2nd-round pick? Or do you re-sign Weight, given his importance to the powerplay, which has sorely missed him during his injury?
More possible trade chips (Witt, Guerin, Comrie, Tambellini, Bergenheim, Park) are mulled after the jump. If you're Garth Snow, how would you handle it?
Brendan Witt -- Speaking of needing a big D-man to fit Gordon's system... It seems by words and by performance Witt would not be long for this place. With the extension signed this summer, Witt is under contract for two more years. That could devalue him, if you view this year as the beginning of his decline. Or it can be an asset, if you view this season as just a system-created anomaly. He's still a fearless player, and he's the kind of grit and minute-muncher a playoff team could appreciate. But many playoff teams might not fit his $3 million under the cap for future years -- and all teams employ what are called "pro scouts.". The plus for the Islanders is that even if they decide he should go, there is no pressure to deal him before summer.
|2008 - Mike Comrie||30||6||9||15||-5||21||2||0||0||0||62||9.7|
Mike Comrie -- Comrie has "excelled" lately with youngsters Kyle Okposo and Blake Comeau. In theory, you have a line to build on there (assuming Okposo handles all the backchecking!). Re-sign Comrie (a UFA), pencil in Josh Bailey, Frans Nielsen and ... Tavares? as offensive centers next season, and maybe you don't need Weight to bridge the generations. But Comrie has been notoriously up-and-down throughout his career -- though he was the Isles' leading scorer last season. His struggles earlier this year can be ascribed to the hip surgery, but even after his rebound with the youngsters, he still has flaky games. Is he the mentor you want for the Islanders' young centers? How much do you need to be offered before you ship him off instead of attempt to re-sign him (at a hefty $4 million).
Bill Guerin -- Guerin has a NMC and thus controls his own destiny. Larry Brooks set off Islanders' fan speculation just by suggesting the Rangers could use a body like him. He's been an admirable captain -- somebody has helped keep this 13-win team positive -- and leads the team in goals once again, but his on-ice production comes and goes like an aging vet. If he insists on staying in the area to accept a deal, can you stomach seeing "Islanders deal captain to aid Rangers playoff push" added to the history of this club and rivalry? The Devils already acquired their retread in Brendan Shanahan. But maybe back to Guerin's Boston roots for a playoff run, should they run into more injury trouble?
|2008 - Andy Hilbert||35||8||9||17||-5||8||1||1||0||0||76||10.5|
Andy Hilbert -- Hilbert excelled once under Scott Gordon, in the AHL, and he's done so again at this level. His stats this year are better than Comrie's, which says a bit about both of them. Once billed as a scorer, he's evolved into a nice role as responsible forward with a bit of offensive touch. But as a UFA, maybe he fetches a pick near the deadline. And Jeff Tambellini, having come up empty as a sniper, might be seen in a Hilbert role (although he has a looong way to go to prove that). Garth Snow showed generous faith in Tambellini once by signing him to a two-year, one-way deal. Might he show similar charitable faith again by assuming he'd step into Hilbert's role?
|2008 - Sean Bergenheim||39||7||4||11||-13||49||0||2||2||0||90||7.8|
Sean Bergenheim -- Not a UFA, but a player whose development has always been stop-and-start on the Island. If another team offers something in return for this potential pest with hands, do you do you part with this 24-year-old who's yet to live up to fan hopes?
Richard Park -- Also not a UFA, but the type of two-way player coaches of playoff teams would love to stock up on. Playoff coaches most fear being sabotaged by their own men, and two-way men like Park remove that fear. With the growth of low-cost grinders like Tim Jackman and Nate Thompson, the Islanders cannot go into next season with all the same veterans. Park is not the guy most Islanders fans would want to see depart -- but that's exactly why he might actually fetch some value at the deadline. Can you stomach letting Park move?
Those are the trade chips that come to mind, but you could easily argue there are more on the roster who could -- or should -- go. If Garth Snow is able to deal even half of those listed, he'd be looking at a nice bag of bonus picks. What do you think? Will there be takers? Who should they part with, and at what price?