In his latest (indispensible and always interesting) 30 Thoughts article for Sportsnet, insider Elliotte Friedman covers the topic of Dustin Byfuglien's recent contract extension with Winnipeg and what it might mean for a potential Travis Hamonic-to-the-Jets trade (hey, great minds)
Friedman, like the rest of us, wonders if Byfuglien's contract means restricted free agent Jacob Trouba is ticketed for Brooklyn. And also like us, Friedman has no idea what Garth Snow has up his sleeve.
7. Final Manitoba note: this will start the Trouba/ Travis Hamonic talk again. I don't know. Not even the Jaws of Life get anything out of Garth Snow, but the surest predictor of future performance is past performance.
Snow draws a hard line with restricted free agents, especially before arbitration eligibility. If a short-term bridge is not an option, that could be a very, very difficult negotiation. If it is an option, things are different.
Snow's hard line stance was seen once again this past summer, when negotiations with forward Brock Nelson went down to the wire before Nelson signed a new three-year contract worth $7.5 million. For months there were speculations and cold wars with Nelson's agent, but eventually a deal was hashed out just before camp. Nelson currently leads the Islanders with 20 goals.
The previous poster boy for Snow's RFA dealings was Josh Bailey, who nearly was forced to sit out the entire 2011-2012 season because he wasn't signed by training camp per an internal team policy. He came around to a two-year deal, then signed a five-year one in 2013.
If Trouba wants "more than $56 million" over eight years as Dom mentioned in yesterday's article, he and Snow might not see eye-to-eye. After acquiring Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk last off-season, Snow signed both to matching seven-year deals for $5.5 and $6 million AAV, respectively. But then again, Snow is like the KGB when it comes to getting information even for Elliotte Friedman, so who knows.
8. Also on the Islanders, can't see Snow doing anything that jeopardizes New York's ability to go for it this season.
They've played 51 games, tied for fewest in the East, so they're in a good spot. Only Washington, Florida and Boston have a better goal differential in the conference. They were not close to the playoffs when the GM traded unrestricted-free-agent-to-be Thomas Vanek in 2014, but no one would be surprised if he takes his chances with Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo this time.
One interesting note: when Michael Dal Colle was struggling in OHL Oshawa, there were rumours the Islanders would be willing to consider a move. But he's got 31 points in 14 games since a trade to Kingston. He's not struggling anymore.
We've talked at length about Okposo and Nielsen and the likelihood of either or both staying or going. Arthur Staple has been pretty adamant (for the last year-and-a-half or so) that Okposo wouldn't be dealt barring a total collapse regardless of his contract status. It's likely Okposo walks away after the season, but the Islanders can't afford to trade their leading point producer in the middle of a playoff race.
Same goes for Nielsen, who's playing possibly better than he ever has in his career at the age of 31. But the speculation is that Nielsen's demands should be lower than Okposo's, thus making him more likely to stay beyond this season.
The Dal Colle note is a new one and "willing to consider a move" is some industrial grade bet hedging on Friedman's part. Since becoming a Frontenac, Dal Colle has been a scoring machine so whatever plagued him in Oshawa seems to have subsided. Now, the trick is for him to continue that production in Bridgeport (possibly later this season). If the Islanders are gearing up for life without Okposo, they're going to need Dal Colle very, very soon.
9. On the other side, Carolina is three points back of the Islanders for the final playoff spot, a postseason challenge no one expected. But, the Hurricanes are at 54 games. Everyone ahead of them in the Wild-Card or Metropolitan race has played fewer.
Do they hold on to their assets because they're still in this? Here's betting GM Ron Francis sees what happens when the games played totals even out. If the Hurricanes fall back, it makes his decisions easier. If not?
This last note's really not about the Islanders, but it does go to show that there are other teams in similar situations. A team like the Hurricanes (or the Islanders) sees a playoff run with UFA players (like Eric Staal) or trading them for a chance to recoup assets and fold their hand. It's a tough call.
And with GMs like Garth "Jaws" Snow and Ron "Fort Knox" Francis making the decisions, anything is possible. Even a crazy, nine player in-division in-province captain for expiring contracts trade.