I’ve, talked about the graduates, the professionals and the drafted prospects of the New York Islanders all week long and I’ve given my five players who could be taken at number 19 should the Islanders draft at that spot. Now this is my once-a-year treat where I play arm-chair GM and I try to improve the team while still trying to stick to what Garth Snow could do, meaning keeping things on a budget and not spending all the money and “Going all out” in the end of June. I do believe that will be his goal, improving the team while still on a budget, which is why I have never written anything on Steven Stamkos coming to the Islanders. It’s just nice to think about, but there are other teams more desperate for him and the Isles should take advantage. So let’s set the scene: You’re watching the draft or you’re in Buffalo, you tell the Toronto fan next to you to stay quiet for one second because they’re still cheering about tanking this season to get their savior, Auston Matthews. You know the Islanders are getting close to making the 19th pick, you look to see NHL commissioner Gary Bettman walk up to the podium (while getting booed of course) and he says:
“We have a trade to announce, the New York Islanders have traded the 19th overall pick to the Boston Bruins for the 29th and 49th overall picks in this years draft.”
So with that, Boston gets to pick 10 spots higher and the Islanders get San Jose’s original first round pick and the Isles also get their original second round pick back from the Johnny Boychuk trade. This is where I have fun. As the Boston Bruins select a player from my list at number 19, Islanders fans patiently wait in agony as to what I’m about to do (something Garth is good at) with the 29th pick. Finally, it’s the Islanders turn and once again, Gary Bettman approaches to the podium as he’s booed for at least the 30th time tonight, but his response is “You may want to hear this one New York!” There’s a sudden hush in the crowd, except for the overcrowded Leafs fans still drunk on excitement, Bettman soaking it all in.
“We have a trade to announce, the New York Islanders have traded the 29th overall pick and Michael Dal Colle to the Detroit Red Wings for Gustav Nyquist and Detroit’s first second round pick in 2017.”
This was my theme to Detroit over the course of the week in Las Vegas prior to the draft: “How bad do you want Stamkos?” The Red Wings have enough young players that they could survive without recently departed Pavel Datsyuk, but adding a player like Stamkos, who would be the number one center for years to come, be a lot closer to his hometown Toronto, but quickly become more of an enemy then the prodigal son would only bring a smile to my face as “Karma is a you know what” for getting Matthews. The Red Wings would get a talented left winger in Michael Dal Colle who needs maybe a year or two in Grand Rapids and then he’ll be ready to possibly be on the Stamkos line. The Islanders get an affordable left-winger to complete the John Tavares line. (Editor’s note: As I’m typing this up, I was listening to B.D Gallof and Jon Jordan’s Isles Beat podcast and B.D said the same thing about possibly getting Nyquist, so as I had Nyquist on my radar for this piece, I was not aware anyone else did as many are in on Taylor Hall rumors, so I give full credit to B.D for the player, and that I’m stealing Nyquist from him for this piece).
So hopefully Isles fans rejoice that they’re finally happy about getting that first line left winger for Tavares (probably not), and the press will try to praise me for making such a bold move, and I say “I’ll still get shit on.” However I’m not done yet.
Time goes by as the first round comes to a close. Late that evening while everyone in Islanders land is sleeping I make another trade. In the morning, Islanders fans wake up to the news: The New York Islanders have traded their second round pick in this years draft, to the Edmonton Oilers for……..Nail Yakupov. I was inspired to do this because of what former New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello did at last years draft, trading a second rounder for Kyle Palmieri. Low cost, high reward with a lot of potential.
Nope not Eberle, not Hall, not Nugent-Hopkins but Yakupov. Why him? A player who is kept on a third line and just doesn’t seem to fit into the Oilers plans, a player who is not even on his Russian team in this years World Championship because he and his coach have issues with each other. A player with top 6 potential and in the last year of his contract will have to make a concerned choice: thrive as an Islander or go play in the KHL. Since he’s not even on the Russian team this year, there may not be a big future for him in Russia either. He’d be a restricted free agent, so the Islanders could manage his contract for another year or two. Another reason? It’s just possible.
Not a lot. My guess would be a second round pick would do it. Maybe even less. https://t.co/nQXbqZYACQ
— Jonathan Willis (@JonathanWillis) June 21, 2016
Also go back to the Graduating prospects piece for a moment. I think Ryan Strome could put up Okposo-like numbers with Tavares and a winger who cold be better than Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, or Josh Bailey. The Isles would have that in the recently acquired Nyquist. All your asking Yakupov to do is score 28 points (Strome’s numbers from last year) on a line with Anders Lee and Brock Nelson. Possible? For sure, and probably more. If the Isles have Ho-Sang, what’s the issue with another problem child for one year? If it doesn’t work out, you don’t qualify him. But if it does work, who’s to say a little time with Tavares isn’t a possibility? Everyone in Edmonton looked good when on a line with Connor McDavid, and a few players that left the Islanders have gotten raises thanks to the Islanders captain. A second rounder for a possibility like that maybe too good to pass up.
So at the end of the draft is completed in Buffalo, my top six forward lines look like this:
Nyquist, Tavares, Strome
Lee, Nelson, Yakupov
I think the bottom six will unfold after the draft, but the offseason will be getting started next like free agents signings and other possible salary dump trades etc. before the season starts. To me, that looks like a pretty good top six, but I’m sure there will be many that will be disappointed because you just can’t please everyone. Is this something Snow would do? It might. After doing some math (Went as high as Calculus 1, B+, so I can do math) and making an educated, generous guess on the Isles salary cap after a few restricted agents were signed, you’re looking at a cap around $70,000,000. There’s still time between now and September to shed some salary or make some moves to get that number lower, if need be and I think the Isles will be doing just that.
Leave your thoughts on what you would do if you were GM of the Isles
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