We’ve known for a few days now about deal between the Islanders and expansion Vegas Golden Knights in which Garth Snow would send the 15th overall pick and injured forward Mikhail Grabovski to the desert in order for George McPhee to stay away from several players Snow had to leave unprotected.
So who would McPhee actually end up selecting as his mandatory Islander?
According to Bob McKenzie (and later Arthur Staple), the answer is goalie Jean-Francois Berube, whose NHL career has been one of the strangest in recent memory.
I'm hearing it's goaltender J-F Berube, as part of the larger deal between NYI and VGK: https://t.co/fVPATCrSiR— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 21, 2017
Update: The deal is official and large one. Berube was indeed selected by the Golden Knights. In addition, the Islanders send their first round pick this year, No. 15 overall, a second round pick in 2019 and defenseman Jake Bischoff to Vegas in order to get those extra protections.
Even after the Golden Knights roster is announced at tonight’s NHL Awards Show, McPhee can start wheeling and dealing with his colleagues beginning at 8 am Thursday morning.
For Berube to be the guy going to Vegas, after a year or more of hemming and hawing over potentially losing Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome, Calvin de Haan, Thomas Hickey or any number of players in the expansion draft, is highly entertaining.
Here’s what I wrote when I tried in vain to get Berube selected for the All Star team. It’s all still valid.
Picked up before last season off waivers from the Kings when starter Jaroslav Halak went down with injury, Berube remained with the team as Thomas Greiss played the bulk of the games while Halak was out. He is eligible for waivers, which is why the team continues to protect him like a mother bird protects her fragile newly hatched eggs from snakes and other predators.
After playing in 14 games this season, double what he had in his first, Snow said that an injury to AHL goalie Christopher Gibson caused him to keep Berube in the pressbox for an additional season. No, it doesn’t make any sense but neither did Berube’s entire tenure with the Islanders.
This is a wrinkle no one - well, almost no one - saw coming. Berube never complained once about watching his career go up in popcorn vapor, so while I can’t say I’m sad to see him go, I respect the hell out of the way he’s handled himself this whole time and hope that, wherever he lands, he’s successful
Bischoff was drafted in the seventh round in 2012, aka The Draft of a Thousand Defensemen. He completed his four years at Minnesota, where he was named 2017 Big Ten Defensive Player of the year, and played six games for Bridgeport in 2015-16. He signed his ELC with the Islanders in March of this year.
The Golden Knights also inherit Grabovski’s $5 million cap hit for the final season of his contract. He’s been out for the better part of a year and a half due to concussion symptoms
Slightly steeper price for #Isles to pay with 2019 2nd-rounder, but this deal was all about keeping assets and clearing cap space for GS.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) June 22, 2017
As for the picks, yeah, a first is kind of a high price to pay for extra expansion protection, and according to Staple, McPhee highly valued the mid-round selection. I’m sure whoever uses that pick - whether it’s Vegas or someone else - will take someone we’ll be mad the Islanders didn’t take. I’ll worry about the second rounder in 2019 in 2019.
We all know Garth Snow pretty well by now. Even without a pick in the first round, I’d still watch Friday’s Entry Draft if I were you. The last time he went into a first round with no picks, he came out with two players.