NHL Trade Deadline: Islanders covet Brandon Saad, or maybe they're just trolling the Blackhawks

Trollin'. - Bruce Bennett

Bored by a slow deadline, you say? Entertain yourself by imagining the hidden war among teams.

As many expected, thanks to all the trades that happened in the past week, it's been a slow NHL Trade Deadline. That disappoints avid fans jonesing for a trade fix.

But it also creates the opportunity to muse over some side entertainment during the deadline, including the source give-and-take that plays out via the media, like some kind of proxy PR war.

For instance, a long shot: Arthur Staple of Newsday reports that the Islanders have attempted to put a package together to acquire young Chicago Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad:

That rumor garnered this from Craig Custance of ESPN:

Two things here:

  1. Of course the Islanders, and many other teams, would like Saad. He's age 20 and has 20 points in 34 games this season.
  2. Of course the Hawks would have no interest in trading a young, cost-controlled forward with a lot of scoring potential.

'We totally wanna trade for that guy. You didn't hear it from me though.'


So what's going on? Staple has been steady and reliable in his two seasons on the Islanders beat, with no record of inflating coverage by trolling in rumors (unlike so many of his esteemed and often Canadian market-based colleagues). If he reports a source told him Snow is interested, you can bet he didn't just Garrioch it out of a dark place.

But why would Isles management, or associates, let this rather shot-in-the-dark bit get out? It's not like fans are clamoring for an acquisition -- if anything, they're at the moment pleased with the team's standing in a playoff position and wondering whether they need to sell off some UFAs.

Let's rewind back to last weekend, when a "source" told the Daily Herald that the Blackhawks were chasing one of the Isles' key players:

A source confirmed to the Daily Herald on Saturday that the Blackhawks and Islanders have been talking multiplayer trade with the centerpiece of the deal being New York center Frans Nielsen.

(Staple later tweeted that a source told him there was "no chance" the Isles would part with Nielsen.)

That Daily Herald piece also surfaced that the Islanders "are said to covet Dylan Olsen," who is perhaps an interesting defensive prospect but nothing on the level of "covet."

To be fair, I don't know who the sources are in these two instances and don't expect the reporters to reveal them. (As in government media, sometimes "sources" are very official people who have reason to leak info -- or misinfo -- but also have reason for their name not to be attached to the leak.)

There could be any number of plausible scenarios at work here, including two teams just window-shopping to ascertain perceived value of their own players. You know the drill: Player "being shopped/targeted." Team (or source) then says "no way Player would be shopped." Repeat.

But it's always good to wonder about motives when specific bits of flotsam get out about teams who run pretty tight-lipped ships. Sometimes, word is they'll do it about their own team to motivate a player to step up his game (There were curious rumors about Kings captain Dustin Brown's availability down the stretch last year).

For me, if there's a leak coming out of a city about one of my key players whom I have no interest in trading, I just might respond in kind about one of theirs. "Yeah, we're totally pushing hard to acquire that guy. You didn't hear it from me though."

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