The fans chant it at games, they pay for billboards outside the arena, they post it on social media. “Snow Must Go!” they all say. The overwhelming consensus is that the Islanders’ GM is not doing enough to make the team a cup contender. It’s important to enumerate the fans’ grievances. Snow has been the Isles’ GM for 12 years, currently the second longest tenure in the NHL. Charles Wang hired him, then extended him to at least six years two summers ago. To understand how atrocious Snow has been, one must look, in depth, at the many transactions he has, and hasn’t, made during his time here.
Garth Snow has attributed one of the worst draft records in the past ten years to this franchise. He started by drafting Josh Bailey over the likes of Erik Karlsson in 2008, a move that until this season seemed idiotic. The team continued passing up on much needed defensemen until the 2012 draft when they selected Griffin Reinhart. In 2010, he selected Nino Niederrieter ahead of Cam Fowler and Vladimir Tarasenko, and Brock Nelson ahead of Justin Faulk. In 2011, he selected Ryan Strome instead of Mika Zibanijad, Mark Scheifle, and Sean Cotourier. I can forgive Snow for Reinhart since he, in essence, flipped him for Mathew Barzal. 2014 wasn’t pretty either as Michael Dal Colle is looking more and more like a bust. Outside of 2009 and 2013, Snow passed up on talent, and the way he and his management develop these prospects only worsens the issue. Many prospects are slow cooked in the minor leagues and aren’t given time to truly live out their potential. It also hurts trade value as teams become skeptical of the development of these prospects. The team is currently feeling the effects of this. The first line is occupied by three players from the draft class of 2009 or earlier. The second line is an anomaly in that arguably the best player between the third and fourth lines contain players came from the draft class 2010, Brock Nelson. It’s hard to believe, but 2010 was eight years ago. Other teams are filling their lineups with younger players. The fact that Michael Dal Colle, Kieffer Bellows, and Josh Ho-Sang aren’t playing right now is troubling for some. Despite this being one of the roots of the problem, other factors can be attributed to Snow’s incompetence as well.
Trades, or lack thereof, are another problem that have plagued this team for the past decade. Although the Nino Niederreiter trade seemed decent at first, the former fifth overall pick blossomed in Minnesota, and the Islanders signed Cal Clutterbuck to an average annual value of $3.5M. The third round pick we got became Eamon McAdam, an okay goalie prospect. Other players who went later in that round included Jake Guentzel, Anthony Duclair, Sven Andrighetto, and Oliver Bjorkstrand. Goalie Jusse Saros, one of the top young netminders in the NHL, went one round later. Other bad trades include the Matt Moulson deal with Buffalo and subsequent Thomas Vanek trade to Montreal, acquiring a 40 year old Tim Thomas for a second round pick, trading away Dwayne Roloson for nothing, and compensating for is expansion draft idiocy by trading a king’s ransom of draft picks to the Vegas Golden Knights. It is also the trades Snow didn’t make that define him. He decided not to trade Travis Hamonic for Taylor Hall, refused to make important trades at four consecutive trade deadlines at which we were playoff contenders, and never materialized deals for Tyson Barrie, Jack Johnson, and Jacob Trouba when they were available. All of these trades could have given the Islanders home ice advantage in the playoffs, or just one more point in the regular season to get them into the show.
Snow’s free agency record is subpar as well. He let an unsigned Jared Spurgeon walk, signed Andrew Ladd to an albatross of a contract, overpaid the likes of Mikhail Grabovski, Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas, and Nikolai Kulemin. No one can overlook the fact that his first move as general manager was signing Rick DiPietro to his infamous fifteen year contract. He was likely one of the general managers to benefit from the 2012-2013 lockout since the new CBA allowed him to buy out the injury plagued goalie without affecting the team payroll. He also failed to resign important players like Thomas Vanek, Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, and Matt Martin. Some are yet to be replaced and others could have found significant roles on the team. Even though it’s hard to get players to come to Long Island, he could have done a slightly better job over the years.
Garth Snow has been the Islanders GM for 12 years. It gave him time to make some good moves, but too many times has he dropped the ball for this team. During his tenure, the team has made the playoffs four times and won only one series, something that would get almost any other GM fired on another team. New York Islanders fans have had enough. They are making their voices heard all over Long Island. This team should, and could be better. It’s time for ownership to make a move. Snow must go.