The 2017-18 NHL season has just passed the halfway point. This season has been action packed with a lot of surprises. For example, the Vegas Golden Knights are first place in the Pacific Division with an outstanding 68 points. Also, the Colorado Avalanche, who had one of the worst seasons in NHL history last year, are currently holding on to the second wild card spot in the Western Conference with a very tight grip. In regards to the Islanders, they are sitting at seventh place in the very tight Metropolitan division. Although the team is in seventh, the Islanders are only two points out of second place. That doesn’t even begin to describe how tough the Metropolitan Division is this year. Islanders fans are starting to ask if we should tank for a high draft pick or should GM Garth Snow make a splash at the deadline and acquire a top talent?
This season has been filled with ups and downs for the Isles. In the beginning, the Islanders came out charging with over three goals per game and the defense to back it up, but then players started to drop like flies. First, it was season-ending injuries to Nikolay Kulemin and Calvin de Haan. Then, Johnny Boychuk and all-star winger Josh Bailey went down, although Bailey has returned. After, assistant captain Andrew Ladd and Casey Cizikas were placed on the IR. All of these injuries led to lots of call-ups from our minor league affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Islanders fans were suddenly seeing unrecognizable names like Sebastian Aho, Tanner Fritz, Michael Dal Colle, and Matt Martin 2.0, aka Ross Johnston.
Based off of this disappointing news it is not a surprise that many fans are wondering if the Islanders should tank the rest of the season and get a high draft pick. There are many reasons why that is not a good idea. The biggest and most important reason is that Garth Snow needs to re-sign John Tavares. As everyone should know, John Tavares has been the Islanders’ franchise player since he was drafted first overall in the 2009 NHL draft. Tavares is an established leader and star in the NHL who could potentially be the biggest free-agent to hit the open market in NHL history.
If the Islanders started to “tank” the season for a high draft pick, it would almost certainly not be an option to re-sign John Tavares and all-star winger Josh Bailey. This is because Tavares has clearly stated that he wants to win NOW and “tanking” would be doing the exact opposite. Another reason why the Islanders should not tank the season is because the team can easily have a Stanley Cup contending team if Garth Snow makes a splash at the deadline.
As I stated earlier, the Islanders are an excellent team who have dealt with devastating injuries this season. Our biggest need for improvement right now is our defense. Due to injuries to key players like Johnny Boychuk and Calvin de Haan, we have not been very good defensively this season, and Garth Snow should therefore try to acquire at least one of these three targets.
TARGET ONE: MIKE GREEN, DETROIT RED WINGS
Mike Green is an all-star defenseman for the Detroit Red Wings this season, but is also playing on the final year of his contract. Mike Green would be a good defenseman for the Islanders because he can easily slide into the second pairing spot and play with either Thomas Hickey or Ryan Pulock. Mike Green has a great shot that comes with over ten years of experience in the NHL.
TARGET TWO: OLIVER EKMAN-LARSSON, ARIZONA COYOTES
As you may all know, the Arizona Coyotes have been one of the NHL’s worst teams over the past few years. They are highlighted by 2009 sixth overall draft pick OEL (Oliver Ekman-Larsson) and a slew of young talent that have the potential to develop into stars within the next few seasons. OEL has been one of the league’s premier defenseman over his eight-year NHL career, but he has been on one of the NHL’s worst teams the entire time. As a result, he has been overshadowed by stars like Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith, Mark Giordano, etc. in the Western Conference. It is obvious that a guy like OEL belongs on a team where he can develop into a better player and have the chance to go far into the playoffs. So, he has to look no farther than the New York Islanders.
The Islanders have an excess amount of young talent and draft picks to meet the asking price for him. It has been reported that the Coyotes want two young stars and at least one first round draft pick. The Islanders can easily give up guys like Josh Ho-sang, Ryan Pulock, and Michael Dal Colle along with one of their firsts this season in order to get OEL. In addition to helping our blue line right now, OEL would benefit the Islanders next season because he has one more year left on his contract at only a $5.5 million cap hit.
TARGET THREE: CHRIS TANEV, VANCOUVER CANUCKS
Chris Tanev has not been known over his eight-year career for being an all-star, but he has been known for being a steady defenseman who has maintained a +37 over his entire career. Tanev would be a great fit for the Islanders for three reasons: he is cheap, good, and reliable. Chris Tanev is currently on a $3 million contract on a struggling Vancouver team. It is safe to say that it would be fairly easy to snag him up from Vancouver at an affordable price. He would be a great second pairing fit for us down the stretch as well as being under contract for the following two seasons.
As you can see, the New York Islanders have a ton of choices to be made. There is a ton of defensive talent that has been on the rumor mill as of late. As of right now, the only way that a significant playoff run is foreseeable is if Garth Snow can pull the trigger on a deal for a defenseman at or before the trade deadline. If Garth Snow fails to do so, his job as the Islanders GM may be gone.