So the Islanders and the rest of the NHL have reached the 60 game mark of the season and this is where teams will decide to either throw in the towel or decide to take a risk. However with the standings as close as they are, you might see a few teams become buyers and sellers this year. How does this affect the Isles? Let’s take a look at the rest of the NHL.
First the East. You should have penciled in the Capitals, Penguins, Rangers and Blue Jackets about three months ago. I think it’s safe to put the Senators in and the Canadiens as well, but their lost to the Isles last night really showed that Montreal needs a change and they needed it a month ago. When you talk about a need, it’s at center. It’s been that way for a while. Look for them to take care of that by the end of the weekend. Here’s the rest of the east(again, for just a little while longer, by point pace):
3. Toronto: 93
4. Panthers 92
5. Boston: 91
5. Isles 93
1. Isles: 93
2. Panthers: 92
3. Boston: 91
At this point, you can probably take out the Wings up to the Sabres as not making the playoffs. Tampa just can’t lose anymore as they’re almost finished, barring an incredible run like Ottawa in 2014. Philly, who were once on a 101 point pace around the half way mark of the season is finishing up this epic collapse and should become sellers as I don’t think they would win game against the Capitals in the playoffs. Now for the West. Count Minnesota, Chicago, San Jose, Oilers (How about that, finally), and Ducks in your playoff bracket.
St. Louis: 92
Not going to lie folks, but the West could be wrapped up pretty quick if the Kings can’t get any scoring and they should have made a trade a while ago. If the Flames were to go on a mini winning streak, it may be enough to take out the Kings and then the concern is just seeding.
So who are the desperate teams? I’m going to say the Kings, Flames, Boston and Montreal. The Pacific teams are battling for the last spot and will be most likely playing the Minnesota Wild in the first round. They’ll need to make something happen if they want to make it a watchable series. The same applies to the Bruins, especially if they get the last playoff spot and their first round opponent are the Caps. Out of these four, I believe the Montreal Canadiens appear to be the more desperate team this year. They’re in danger of losing the division to everyone in the Atlantic that’s in a playoff hunt and if they want to go deep, they’re going to have to play the Rangers at some point because they’re the first wild card winners and will play in the Atlantic like the Islanders did last year.
Who are the teams looking to improve the overall organization? I would certainly say the Ducks, Dallas, Canes, Isles, Sabres, Blues & Wings. Each team has a little bit of something that other teams covet. Normally, trades like these are usually done around the draft and when teams are aware of cap space or other factors. The expansion draft is also affecting every team because they’re going to lose one player regardless.
So how does this affect the Islanders? If you’re Montreal, a more desperate team, who would you rather get: Matt Duchene or a rental like Martin Hanzal? Pretty sure they’ll want Duchene. Will Montreal make such a brash move? It certainly is looking that way. Could Montreal overpay what the Isles are offering? Yup. Will that happen? We’ll see, but it’s very possible that with the way the Atlantic is turning out, I’m looking at a Leafs/Rangers divisional finals. If that doesn’t get Marc Bergevin fired, I don’t know what will. If Carolina and you have the assets that are more to Colorado’s liking than the Isles, they could make that trade today and really make the Metro even more competitive next year.
My point is this: you can come up with any trade scenario you want, but it truly depends on the needs of the other teams personal preference. They have to make sure that those players will work within your system, that’s why you see so many scouts nowadays. If the Islanders have indeed have a deal in place and that it is truly up to the Avalanche, they may find better options from desperate teams like Montreal, maybe Boston, or teams just trying to improve the organization like the Ducks or Canes who could fill the Colorado’s needs more effectively. The Islanders are not in a dire situation like the Atlantic. Would fans like to see Garth Snow make a big splash, ala Ryan Smyth? Sure, but does it have to be this year? Maybe, maybe not. If Mathew Barzal/Ryan Pulock are that close to the NHL, are they both worth that and a first round for Duchene? We’ll see. The weekend will certainly be fun to watch.