The 2017-18 campaign for the New York Islanders has been nothing short of absurd. The Belmont arena, Nassau Coliseum, billboards, Mathew Barzal, goaltending and defensive woes, Tavares negotiations, and Garth Snow’s inability to do his job have all been headlines this season.
I say it’s time for the Islanders to give up on this failed season and tank.
There is no doubting that this team has a ton of talent with the rookie of the year, a perennial all-star, and an evolved Josh Bailey. If the Islanders could have come together to produce consistently, they would be contenders. On November 30th, the Islanders had a 14.6% chance to win the Stanley Cup and a 96% chance to make the playoffs. How times have changed…
The New York Islanders are in a downward spiral, going 0-6-1 in their last seven games. Besides a select few players, mostly everyone seems checked out and mentally exhausted. I have always been a fan of playing hard until you are mathematically out of the picture, but it is time for the Islanders to start tanking in preparation of the NHL Draft in Dallas, Texas. This year the draft is deep, headlined by Rasmus Dahlin, Filip Zadina, Andrei Svechnikov, and Brady Tkachuk.
Each player has hall-of-fame talent, and it’s time the Islanders made a push to reach the top four. It’s not unrealistic to think that this team could fall into having top six four for the number one pick, behind only Buffalo, Ottawa, and Vancouver. Also, the Islanders still have the Calgary Flames’ first-round pick, which is slated to be 13th overall. Crazy things have happened, and it is possible for the Isles to move into the top tier of selections. All they need to do is continue this losing streak until the season’s end. Let’s take a look at some of the players the Islanders could have a shot at getting if they pick in the top-four.
Rasmus Dahlin Scouting Reports: “After the WJC there is zero doubt who the top draft pick should be in June. Dahlin has everything you want in a defenceman in 2018. Can help turn a franchise around.” -Jeff Marek, Sportsnet
“He has all the tools to become a game-changing pillar for an organization. His effortless skating and offensive tools make you swoon while his defensive game grows with each passing contest. An outstanding World Juniors, and will be a prominent figure on the Olympic squad in a few weeks. A border-line generational talent on the back end.” -Cam Robinson, Dobber Prospects
“He’s been the best prospect in Sweden for years,” said Goran Stubb, the NHL director of European Scouting. “He’s a smart, two-way D-man who can control the game in almost every situation using his stickhandling, smooth skating, and overall skills. He’s not overly physical but can give and take a hit.” -Mike Morreale, NHL
Filip Zadina Scouting Reports: He’s been exactly as advertised and more for Halifax. The power winger has been destroying CHL competition and saved his best performances for this Czech national team this holiday season. He uses his size and strength to create space and then delivers electric moves and finishing ability. Can beat you from anywhere on the ice. A tireless worker.” -Cam Robinson, Dobber Prospects
“Zadina is a determined and hungry scorer. He has the ability to score in multiple ways between the dots and from the top of the circles in the offensive zone. He possesses an excellent release that makes it very hard for goalies to get a read on his shot.” -Craig Button, TSN
Andrei Svechnikov Scouting Reports: “A ridiculous near goal-per-game output in the OHL is just the tip of the iceberg for the dynamic winger. Was somewhat underutilized at the WJHC but found a way to make a difference most nights. A legitimate 40-plus goal threat not too far down the line” -Cam Robinson, Dobber Prospects
“Svechnikov plays a responsible game without the puck, has a strong stride with good top-end speed, good instincts at reading the play to set up or be open for chances,” said Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting. “He also has an excellent finishing touch to bury his chances.” -Mike Morreale, NHL
Brady Tkachuk Scouting Reports: “It took the underage freshman 14 games to score his first collegiate goal. Having said that, look for him to trend upward in the points department. Regardless of offensive production, however, he’s got size, grit and thoroughly enjoys being a net-front nuisance.” -Sam Consentino, Sportsnet
“Tkachuk is a throwback; he has the skill set, hands, shot and net-front play to be a real high-end goal scorer in the NHL,” said USNTDP U-18 coach Seth Appert. “Some players hit because they know it’s part of the game and the coach wants them to go hit to create a turnover. Tkachuk absolutely craves physical contact.” -Mike Morreale, NHL
Whether it be Tkachuk, Zadina, Svechnikov, or Dahlin, each player will be a top producer in the NHL. It is up to the Islanders organization to make it a point to attempt to snag one of these future all-stars. There are times when a team can prove that they want to win by going after a young stud, and making a move like this can be one of those instances.
The number one reason why the New York Islanders are not in a playoff position is Garth Snow. He has been the General Manager and President for twelve years now, with one Playoff series win. When it was time for Snow to acquire a top-four defenseman or a goalie, Snow trades for Brandon Davidson and Chris Wagner. Wagner and Davidson are good, respectable players, but, they should not be on this roster. They are not what the New York Islanders need.
It’s gotten so bad that “Snow Must Go” billboards have sprung up in Brooklyn, privately funded by disgruntled Islander fans. Fans have also created Garth Snow bingo for the trade deadline and “Garth Madness” in honor of March Madness. Notable instances of Garth Snow’s failures are rejecting the Taylor Hall for Travis Hamonic trade, giving Andrew Ladd a seven-year, 38.5 million dollar contract, signing Rick DiPietro to a 15-year contract, and trading for Thomas Vanek. Every GM makes a bad deal or drafts the wrong guy, but there are so many situations where Garth Snow made a bad choice, it’s baffling.
There is no point for this team to continue to compete. There is no upside. The chance is very slim that the Islanders can make a run at the Stanley Cup based on their current standing, especially considering that even if the Islanders did make it, they would have to travel to Tampa Bay round one. If the Islanders played .500 hockey until the seasons’ end, they would be looking at the 10th overall pick. Based on the numbers, it would be smarter for the team to tank. It is time for the Islanders to trust the process, albeit for one season.