The 2016 NHL Trade Deadline is Monday, February 29th (please, no Leap Year jokes). I am not Garth Snow, nor am I one of the other 29 NHL general managers, nor am I a mind-reading Jedi. There's no way of knowing who - if anyone - could become an Islander in the next week.
Instead, we'll look at what exactly the team has to deal, starting with the non-tangible assets.
Having a first rounder is like having a loaded gift card that could be used to buy just about anyone. Whether Snow chooses to deal one is unknown, but this might be the year to cash one in. The Islanders have made two picks in the first rounds of each of the last two drafts (more on them below), so it's possible that Snow could see this year's pick as expendable. And hey, even if he trades it, there's a chance he could get one or more back on the draft floor anyway.
Their second round choice was traded to the Bruins in the Johnny Boychuk deal. Their fifth now belongs to the Panthers thanks to last year's draft day deal that allowed the Islanders to select Brandon defenseman Ryan Pilon, who left the team for personal reasons a few months ago.
As for that third round pick, it's a long story - expertly detailed by Mark a while back. Basically the Islanders included a conditional third rounder in the deal that sent Chad Johnson to Buffalo for Michal Neuvirth. The condition was that the Sabres would get either the Islanders' third rounder or one from Vancouver that the Islanders had previously acquired for defenseman Andrey Pedan. The Sabres traded that same conditional pick to the Penguins for the right to hire Dan Bylsma, and Pittsburgh confused matters by sending that same pick back to Vancouver in the Brandon Sutter deal. As it stands, the Islanders and Canucks would each keep their own picks should Vancouver finish below the Islanders in the standings. Phew.
The Islanders currently have all seven of their picks in both the 2017 and 2018 drafts.
According to CapFriendly.com, the Islanders carry a current cap hit of $65,941,476. That's $5,582,033 below the salary cap.
They can add almost $26 million in salary at the deadline thanks to some fluctuating values and the days remaining in the season. No, I'm not 100% sure how it works. But needless to say, they aren't under any kind of cap crunch.
* * *
Now on to the actual humans in a completely arbitrary and non-comprehensive list.
Four of the Islanders' top five prospects are currently playing junior hockey. In no particular order, they are: Michael Dal Colle (Kingston, OHL), Mathew Barzal (Seattle, WHL), Anthony Beauvillier (Shawinigan, QMJHL) and Joshua Ho-Sang (Niagara, OHL). All four were drafted in the first rounds of the last two drafts - Dal Colle and Ho-Sang in 2014 and Barzal and Beauvillier in 2015.
Of those players, Dal Colle was mentioned in a recent Elliotte Friedman column as a player the Islanders might have possibly been willing to move before his trade from Oshawa to Kingston that turned him back into a scoring machine. It would take a mighty big deal for the Islanders to trade any of them given the raw potential they all have and the lack of depth elsewhere in the system.
In the college ranks, Boston University's Doyle Somerby might be their most notable prospect thanks to a year that's shown a lot of improvement. Penn State goalie Eamon McAdam has helped backstop the still new program to some national notice. But none of the team's NCAA prospects are more than names at this point.
(Update: in the comments, community member zippy1021 mentions Quinnipiac defenseman Devon Toews, who's also progressing nicely. Thanks.)
Minor Pro Prospects
The Islanders' best AHL prospect is defenseman Ryan Pulock, who just got called up to replace an injured Calvin de Haan on their seven game road trip.
Before Pulock's recall, the Islanders had brought up defensemen Adam Pelech (currently out indefinitely with an undisclosed illness or injury) and Scott Mayfield, who played sparingly and was returned on January 26th. Mayfield is currently suspended for a hit to the head of Springfield's Steve Downie.
Their Sound Tigers teammates are mostly AHL journeymen or depth players, including defenseman Kevin Czuczman, a once highly-touted NCAA prospect who's bounced between the ECHL and AHL for the past two seasons, and Sebastian Collberg, the former Canadiens second rounder acquired at the 2014 deadline for Thomas Vanek.
The Islanders' most intriguing goaltending prospects are Ilya Sorokin, currently playing lights out in the KHL, and young Swedish goalie Linus Soderstrom, who turned some heads at the last two World Junior championships.
Roster (or near Roster) Players
It's pretty much been decided - having been reported by Arthur Staple, Bob McKenzie and Elliotte Friedman - that UFAs Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen won't be traded at the deadline. Matt Martin, the forgotten UFA whose contract status no one talks about, is probably also not going anywhere given his place on the Islanders' infamous fourth line.
Also falling into that category is Travis Hamonic, whose leaked request to be traded to a team closer to his home sent half the league running to figure out if they qualified as "Western Canada." Don't expect him to be moved before the Islanders' season concludes.
For better or worse, the Islanders' roster seems set going forward. The most likely additions would be depth players for injury insurance. The team found out last season that calling up players from the AHL to fill out a roster in a seven game playoff series isn't ideal.
Of the guys on the team now, the only one who looks expendable is probably third string goalie J-F Berube. However, because he was picked up off waivers, he can't be traded until the season ends without offering him to the other teams that tried to claim him first. The Islanders have avoided sending him back to the AHL (which would require putting him back on waivers) and mostly, he's sat in the press box during games, practiced with the team and just been happy to be here. Jack Capuano talks about Berube as a member of a goaltending trio, so maybe the plan is to hold onto him should Jaroslav Halak or Thomas Greiss get hurt.
* * *
The biggest bills in Garth Snow's wallet are some first rounders and four high quality junior prospects. Could any of them be moved for a rental? It's possible but very, very doubtful. If Snow wants to upgrade his team for a playoff run without significantly altering his roster, trading a first rounder for this year or next would be the way to do it. Not that I think he will (or that any of this year's rentals are worth it or that the Islanders are so close to the Stanley Cup that they should be trading firsts for rentals), but there is a certain logic to it.
Staple believes the most likely moves for the Islanders would be exchanging mid round picks for depth players on expiring contracts. It's also possible that another team likes the cut of a prospect's jib or hopes a change of scenery would jump start a young career.
So who are we talking about coming back the other way? The great Toronto Tag Sale is up and running, and former Islanders P.A. Parenteau and Brad Boyes could be the type of players they're looking at. Calgary's Jiri Hudler is also available, as is the Oilers Teddy Purcell. Winnipeg captain Andrew Ladd, the hot name everyone wants, isn't likely because of the price the Jets are asking. On defense, the pickings are much slimmer, with Vancouver's Dan Hamhuis and Edmonton's Nikita Nikitin probably the most likely to move. (Again, another reminder: NO JUSTIN SCHULTZ)
Those are just players from teams we can assume will be sellers at the deadline. A lot of teams are still mathematically alive, which could also put a damper on moves and make for a boring 10-hour Sportsnet Trade Deadline show next Monday.
Snow might be looking to "make a splash in the playoffs" as McKenzie put it, but it doesn't feel like he'll shake the team up in a big way two months before the playoffs start.
Then again, Snow's been known to ninja the hockey world before. Which can't be easy for a guy who's 6'-3".
We'll wait until the smoke clears next Tuesday to see what happens.