One of the questions I always pose to Islanders fans calling for trades or hindsight signings is: Who's truly available? And for what? It's not an apologist's tactic but rather an attempt to ground discussion in practical reality instead of reality's more fun EA Sports version.
There is also the classic question: "If Islander X is so bad, why would another team trade for him? Much less give up something you want in return?" The reality is the early-season trade market (i.e. before teams start to gear up in the second half) is usually quiet, dotted with unremarkable moves.
Meanwhile, some of the better trades -- such as acquiring a season (or less) of walk-year James Wisniewski for a 3rd -- come out of the blue. The Ducks at that time wanted out from the salary commitment to Wisniewski. That's how they were ready to sell. You cannot concoct nor force that situation upon a seller; if it's not there, you have no deal.
The free-agent market is a little different: Throw extra money at a mid-tier player, and he might come, particularly if you Tallon on extra years you (or your successor, if you add realism to your Fantasy GM mode) might later regret.
One name thrown about last summer was Scott Hannan, a plays-above-his-size defenseman who was underrated as a Shark, overpaid as an Av, salary dumped to the Capitals, and left to wait on last summer's free agent market until he became a Flame. He ended up signing for just one year, though you wonder if he'd been holding out for offers of more security/term.
A left-handed shot, Hannan is one of those guys with miles and experience whose career is on the wrong side of its peak and whose value has appeared quite different in different situations. Someone who might become a great signing to improve depth, or might become another commitment who draws ire from fans. Seeing his name come up in this Kerry Fraser blog made me wonder how he's working out in Calgary thus far.
To hear Matchsticks & Gasoline sum it up, not well [emphasis mine]:
[Mark Giordano's] most frequent defensive partner, Hannan, has not exactly come as advertised. Admittedly, I was one of the writers who expected a semi-Regehr performance, but it's looking like even hoping for Sarich level play might be a bit too much. He's slow on the puck, misses defensive assignments, and generates little to no offensive pressure. Remember how I pointed out that Gio was third worst on the team? Hannan's the worst (Babchuk sits comfortably between the two). At -13.8, Scott Hannan is bleeding shots against, and it's not fun.
It's worth noting that the worst part about Hannan is that he doesn't have a grudge against Ales Hemsky. Which was the best part of Regehr.
These are based off figures through just 13 games, so there's that. But it sounds like Hannan would've merely stepped into the third-pair challenge that the Islanders (and many teams) already have, while adding another contract to block anyone who emerges from Bridgeport during the season.
It's a frustrating situation for a fan such as myself who advocates for the importance of blueline depth: I really want good defensemen as insurance, but they're hard to identify and acquire (the clearer it is how good they are, the tougher they are to bring into your possession). So you end up with stopgaps until better ones arrive, but as we saw last summer, even the stopgaps may come at the price of a two-year commitment. I suspect that was part of the theory behind training camp invites -- i.e., guys who would bust their tail just to win a job, and be happy just to have one rather than arrive as an entitled malcontent.
Meanwhile, how about one who was deliberately allowed to walk away?
Jack Hillen signed a two-way deal in Nashville and made the opening roster, but hasn't appeared in every Predators game. On the Forecheck's 10-game report has Hillen -- who looked alternately out of sorts and quite useful last season -- in a familiar boat: "Specialist needs protection from tough matchups."
(By the way, this isn't a "told ya so" post. It's self-examination with an eye toward "careful what you wish for." For example, two summers ago I thought maybe the Isles should've tossed a bone Alex Frolov or Alex Ponikarovsky's way.)
Any summmer targets or woulda-shouldas on your radar? Anyone you've checked on, or want checking on, to see how they're doing?
- Newsday has the Islanders discussing how this year's 4-6-2 is different from last year's 4-6-2 under Gordon.
- The official site on Michael Grabner's evolution and hockey sense.
- If you missed it, Garik's FanPost on the poor possession numbers for the Islanders thus far is a succinct read and discussion.
- IPB on Brock Nelson's potential.
- I forgot to promote it yesterday, but here's the archive of Fornabaio's weekly Sound Tigers chat.
- The Penguins threw a test tube, I mean a bone, the Blue Jackets' way for a 4th. Bonus Columbus snark.
- The Smurfs and Caps exchanged AHL parts.
- Daniel Paille underwent facial surgery after taking that Steve Staios shot to the face. In the fine tradition of hockey, he is day-to-day.