The New York Islanders are on absolute fire, as they have won thirteen of their last sixteen and impressively defeated the best team in the NHL, the Tampa Bay Lightning. But, despite this recent success, questions are still lurking around the Islanders possibilities for the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline.
Certainly, the Islanders will most likely not be blowing up their team, unlike another New York team that plays in Manhattan, but there are still concerns about unsigned future free agents Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Jordan Eberle. The Islanders could also choose to become buyers at the deadline, as Lou Lamirello could make a big splash. However, it looks like the Islanders will most likely take the Garth Snow approach and address depth needs.
Potential Trade Candidates:
Realistically there is no way the Islanders can let Anders walk or even leave after naming him captain at the beginning of the season. He is beloved by the fans, and is a major voice in the locker room, all while being a driving force to the teams success so far this season. There is no reason to trade him as he will be a major factor in leading the team to a potential playoff spot in the upcoming weeks. Anders Lee is the captain the organization deserves, and should be donning the Islanders crest for many years to come.
Nelson is more than halfway through his sixth year in the NHL, this season has been his most productive and successful by far. He has developed into a solid two-way player, while also being an offensive threat with his sixteen goals so far this season. Nelson occasionally helps out on the penalty kill and has looked very competent when called upon. He has been another big reason to the teams success this season and the Islanders should hopefully lock him up for a few years at a good price.
This is Jordan Eberle’s second year with the team and could certainly be his last. Despite Jordan Eberle recent success after coming back from an injury, he still has had a very shaky first half of the season. The Islanders also have prospects like Kieffer Bellows and Oliver Wahlstrom, who will need roster spots in the upcoming years. The Islanders still have Josh Ho-Sang in the minors so potentially trading Eberle for draft picks or prospects could unleash Ho-Sang from Bridgeport once again.
Trade Deadline Options:
Acquiring A Superstar
The Islanders could attempt to make a huge move to acquire Tarasenko or Panarin, two of the biggest names on the potential trade market right now. However, this is unlikely. While this might be the most appealing out of all the options, it could potentially have the most backlash in months to come. First off, the Islanders would deplete their highly-touted prospect pool, and more importantly, it’s not guaranteed that the player will produce as he’s supposed to or put the team in a much better situation. Losing a prospect like Oliver Wahlstrom or Noah Dobson will be a move the Islanders could potentially regret for many years in the future.
Potential targets would be Vladimir Tarasenko, Artemi Panarin and Matt Duchene. Any of these three players would be a huge addition to any team throughout the league. The only issue with Panarin and Duchene is that both of them are on the last year of their contracts, and the last thing the Islanders organization or fanbase wants is another stalemate with a superstar player leading up to the last seconds before free agency begins.
This is the option most Islanders fans are used to, due to the infamous former GM Garth Snow. In recent years, the Islanders added depth pieces like Chris Wagner, Shane Prince, and Tyler Kennedy. The Islanders have plenty of depth players and honestly should steer as far away from this option as possible. The Islanders have more than enough defensemen, and their crop of forwards has been successful to this point, even with guys like Tom Kuhnhackl, Ross Johnston, and Josh Ho-Sang not playing currently. There isn’t a need to waste draft picks on guys who will hardly play like Garth Snow did.
Trading Jordan Eberle
The chances of the Islander re-signing all three of their skilled forwards is highly unlikely at this point, and it seems unlikely that captain Anders Lee or Brock Nelson will leave at this point. That makes a Jordan Eberle trade possible. Removing Eberle from the lineup would leave a spot open for the beloved Joshua Ho-Sang, who was sent back to Bridgeport earlier this January. While there are rumors the demotion was disciplinary, he still could get another chance at the NHL level. If the Islanders were to trade Eberle, they would certainly get draft picks or prospects to make the team’s future look even brighter than it is already. This seems to be the most logical idea, but if the Islanders were to stay with the current crop of players no one would complain as they’ve been very dominant to this point so far.
This is certainly the less appealing option of the choices, but is the safest. Now, you potentially risk losing players for literally nothing, but there isn’t much to really improve with this roster. The team chemistry is outstanding and the boys never feel down in a game despite the score — they’re a very resilient group and have shown it plenty of times this season. There is always the risk that the Islanders success could eventually take a turn for the worse, but that is something they can’t worry about right now as they are in striking distance of first place in the Metropolitan division.
The New York Islanders have had a very successful first half of the 2018-19 season. They continue to prove to the NHL that having a brilliant coaching staff and players who buy into the teams system while creating a winning culture in the locker room is much more important than a single superstar player. As the Trade Deadline comes closer and closer, the organization will have to figure out what direction the team will be headed in.