After finally making the playoffs last season for the first time since Garth Snow decided on an all out rebuild of the team, this season has been nothing short of a disaster. With the season slipping away, Snow may be thinking about adding pieces, but I'm thinking the only addition the Islanders should be thinking about is addition by subtraction.
Its easy to say this guy stinks or this guy isn't producing so let's trade him for something unrealistic. That's not what this piece is. Honestly, in my eyes the ship has sailed on the following three players and their Islanders careers. When taking a hard look at what these players most likely can/will offer the Isles in the future, it seems like the smartest path is to move on from each of them.
So while these guys still may have a fan or two left throughout the NHL Executive community, it's time for Snow to sell these players while he still can.
1. Josh Bailey
Yes Bailey is still only 24 years old. But after 357 career NHL games, Bailey still has yet to top 16 goals and 35 points in a season, and both of those totals happened in his second NHL season.
After looking like he had turned the corner at the end of last season and first two weeks of this season, Bailey has gone stone cold. We've seen this story way too many times from Bailey. Good for a few games, not so good for a bunch more.
Bailey's shooting percentage has always been decent, and if the forward would just get off enough shots you would think he would produce numbers worthy of a Top 6 forward. But there within lies the most frustrating thing about Bailey.
In his first five NHL seasons, Bailey ranked 16th, 10th, 8th, 12th, and 10th on the Islanders in Shots on Goal for the year. When Milan Jurcina is outshooting you in 15 less games played, there is an issue. The lesson still hasn't been learned by Bailey though, as this season he ranks a sad 12th on the Isles in shots, behind Matt Martin, Cal Clutterbuck and Thomas Hickey.
He was rushed. He was misused. He was yo-yoed between positions. Whatever your excuse may be for Bailey's lack of development, it's time he tried figuring it out in another NHL team's jersey. His contract isn't the most trade friendly, but the money he is owed isn't absurd to the point that it would turn away every suitor either.
Sometimes it's alright to admit that it's time to move on. Draft picks don't always pan out the way you expect, Garth. I know he was your first, but it's time to let him go.
With the way MacDonald has played this season, he would have been number one on this list if not for the Islanders paper thin defensive corps. While the Islanders can ill afford to lose another defenseman, they almost can't afford to keep MacDonald in the fold either.
I almost want to give MacDonald a pass for the way Jack Capuano has run him into the ground this year. 26:40 minutes per game, including power play and penalty kill time, for a guy who is really no better than a Bottom 3 defenseman just doesn't seem fair. But life isn't fair and the fact is MacDonald has been brutal this season.
An upcoming unrestricted free agent, MacDonald is a player the Islanders actually would be able to re-sign, but he really hasn't given the team much reason to do so. Instead, with an affordable remaining contract, MacDonald is the perfect rental for a playoff team looking to bolster their blueline, and the Isles could actually gain something decent in return for the defenseman.
Regardless of the return though, whatever the Islanders get for MacDonald will benefit the team more than his 'up the center of the ice' turnovers.
3. Matt Martin
Remember when Matt Martin first put on an Islanders jersey and everyone fell in love with his wrecking ball style of play? Well we're into Martin's fourth season on the Island and his act is getting a little old.
Martin has the reputation around the NHL of a 'hate to play against him, love to have him on our side' kind of player. With that being the case, some team would love to add his GRITZ to their lineup. And why wouldn't they? Martin has 8000 hits this season, totally making him an integral part of the team who deserves to never be scratched and garner plenty of time on the penalty kill.
One of the great things about first and second year Martin was his ability to goad the opposition into taking a bad penalty. I'm not sure I've seen that once this year out of Martin, and instead he's the one who has started taking the bad penalties.
Martin is a fourth line forward and will always be a fourth line forward, which isn't a bad thing. Unfortunately, Martin sees third line minutes each game. As bad as the Islanders have been this season, they can't be giving a guy like Martin nearly 13 minutes a game and expect to improve.
The Islanders have a second Matt Martin in Cal Clutterbuck. A team sinking like a lead balloon only needs one in their lineup each night. Let another team have the real Martin and let the Isles open up a roster spot for someone more deserving (Brock Nelson or Ryan Strome full-time, maybe?)