In a very informal poll of agents done by ESPN’s Craig Custance this season, the Islanders came out the third most-listed team on player no trade clauses. It’s the second consecutive year in which they’ve taken third place, which means they haven’t moved up in the rankings (yeah, so, uh, congrats to Winnipeg).
The article for ESPN Insiders subscribers only but here’s a small snippet of the Islanders write-up, which is hopefully brief enough to avoid us getting sued.
“The idea that John Tavares could potentially leave makes them very undesirable until they get their [stuff] together,” said an agent. “Part of the problem is the setup. The players hate the setup there.”
Another agent echoed that thought via e-mail: “I don’t think the setup in Brooklyn/Long Island has anyone excited.”
Custance does note that, should the Islanders agree to an extension with Tavares and announce some resolution in their relationship with Barclays Center this summer, it’s possible that the team isn’t on next year’s list at all. The Islanders weren’t named on his first such poll in 2015, which still stands as one of the team’s greatest victories of the past decade.
Custance is clear at the poll is by no means scientific, but even with that caveat, it’s still really vague. I wonder how many players truly “hate the set-up” in Brooklyn since, in just the last 10 months, Andrew Ladd, Jason Chimera, Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck have all signed on for a combined 19 years with the club. Geez when you put it that way...
No one’s denying that the Islanders shouldn’t by all means attempt to get their [shit] together. It certainly doesn’t help that the franchise hasn’t appeared to be on solid ground for longer than one season in 30 years.
But this also might be the usual case of outside players not really knowing what Long Island is all about, a condition that’s afflicted the Islanders forever. A commonly cited story is Bill Torrey having to convince Al Arbour that the Island is far from the dense bustle of Manhattan just to get the guy to coach here. There’s a reason that more than a few players have chosen to live on Long Island after their playing careers are over.
Also of note is that the Oilers remain on the list despite getting glowing reviews for having Connor McDavid and a brand spanking new arena. One agent said players are wary of Edmonton because it’s “hard to get in and out of.” Apparently, none of them have ever been to Newark, which doesn’t even get a dishonorable mention.
We’ll see how cast in stone these no-trade lists are this summer, with player swaps the only way Garth Snow can conceivably fix a roster that’s got nearly everyone from this season already locked down. Maybe Snow should get his interim coach and chief salesman working the phones ASAP.