In a report discussing the futures of Travis Hamonic (trade request), and Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen (each an impending UFA), TSN's Bob McKenzie believes that Islanders GM Garth Snow would rather keep the three important players for the remainder of this season and (hockey gods willing) into the playoffs, rather than cash them in for futures or adding a new veteran presence to an already tight locker room.
Although Hamonic asked to be moved before the season, Snow will need to be blown away with an offer before he moves the six-year veteran at or before the NHL's trade deadline later this month. Per McKenzie:
The Islanders are all about a) making the playoffs, and b) trying to make a splash in the playoffs. Unless an incredible offer comes across Snow's desk in the next couple of weeks, which is certainly possible, those interests are likely best served by keeping Hamonic for the rest of the season and trying to deal with his closer-to-home (Western Canada) trade request (for personal reasons) in the off-season.
That doesn't preclude a deal between now and Feb. 29, it just means it's going to have to be perfect for Snow to radically alter team chemistry now when he isn't under any real pressure to do so.
Much of that goes back to what we had kinda of suspected back when news of the trade request first broke: that had Snow found a match he liked - essentially replacing one of his top-four defensemen with another top-four defensemen making comparable money - he would have made the move already. Now, 50-odd games into the season and with the Islanders seemingly fighting everyday for every inch of elbow room among a crowded Eastern Conference, the chance of Hamonic being moved before the conclusion of the season is very, very slim.
When it comes to Okposo and Nielsen, McKenzie reiterates the Islanders' position that they won't be sellers at the deadline, regardless of contract status.
The Islanders' philosophy, or at least Snow's, is a little different than a lot of other teams when it comes to expiring contracts. It's not carved in stone, but repeat after me: The Islanders are all about a) making the playoffs, and b) trying to make a splash in the playoffs.
The Isles' short-term interests are not best served by getting draft picks or prospects in exchange for significant contributors to the immediate cause, as Okposo and Nielsen are. Certainly in Okposo's case, Snow knows it will be difficult if not impossible to re-sign him, but if/when Okposo walks off into free agency, the Isles will rationalize their return on Okposo as being able to spend the dollars otherwise earmarked for him on somebody else.
That last bit about passing the Okposo savings along to another player can only mean one thing: STAMKOS TO BROOKLYN!!! OMG!!
Or not. But the list of UFAs this summer is an interesting one, and it could alter how (or even if) the Islanders approach resigning Okposo.
As McKenzie's colleague and contemporary Elliotte Friedman made clear in his Islanders notes in yesterday's 30 Thoughts, the preternaturally tight-lipped Snow isn't tipping his hand in any particular direction right now. The goal is the playoffs. Beyond that, no one knows which way Snow is leaning on any of these pending (but not necessarily pressing) matters.
In other words, this is the best intel you're gonna get from the Islanders until something actually breaks.
Read the rest of McKenzie's article for updates on Dan Hamhuis, who would prefer to just remain a Canuck thank you very much, and Kris Russell, who might soon join the Flames' ever-growing list of grossly overpaid defensemen.