The New York Islanders didn’t do nearly enough at the trade deadline to help their chances of re-signing captain John Tavares
John Tavares is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and he has to be asking himself why would he possibly want to re-sign with the New York Islanders. The Isles are quickly falling out of the playoff race and instead of making any moves to help the club in the short-term or long-term, New York sat on their hands and did nothing.
Meanwhile, it felt like the entire Metropolitan Division were actively making deals to get stronger today or stronger in the future. The New Jersey Devils worked hard to try and end their playoff drought by acquiring Michael Grabner and Patrick Maroon. Meanwhile, the Columbus Blue Jackets improved their chances of making the playoffs with the additions of Thomas Vanek and Ian Cole.
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The Pittsburgh Penguins made no secrets about their attempts at a third-straight Stanley Cup by acquiring Derick Brassard. Even the Philadelphia Flyers added goaltending and defensive depth. Then there was the New York Rangers who accepted they weren’t good enough to make a run in the playoffs and chose to make moves for the future.
With so many division rivals and teams the Islanders need to pass in the standings in order to make the playoffs, it’s puzzling the club chose not to be more active at the deadline. Even if the club recognized they weren’t good enough for the playoffs, they should have chosen to sell assets like how the St. Louis Blues dealt Paul Stastny.
Anything would have been better than nothing which is what the Islanders did. Swapping Jason Chimera for Chris Wagner or overpaying to acquire Brandon Davidson to play third-pairing minutes on defense hardly counts as improving the club.
By not being more active, the Islanders now sit in an awkward limbo state. They likely aren’t going to make the playoffs. The argument to convince Tavares to stay just became even harder.
Some would like to compare his’ situation to Steven Stamkos’ journey to free agency two seasons ago. However, the two situations are hardly comparable. The Tampa Bay Lightning had several strong players like Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov that Stamkos could see would help the Lightning succeed. There isn’t anybody close to being on their level with the Islanders except maybe Mathew Barzal.
Stamkos could also see the cupboard full of prospects along with key secondary players like Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Anton Stralman. Not to mention at the time of his’ re-signing with Tampa Bay, the club had two quality goaltenders in Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy. As a result, it was easy for Stamkos to stay with the Lightning just like it’ll be easy for Tavares to walk away.
With the exception of Barzal, there is nothing that could excite Tavares about his future with the Islanders. The team has no goaltender and failed to address the glaring issue all season. Their defensive group is suspect at-best. Even the forwards become questionable. Is someone like Anders Lee really going to help Tavares win a Stanley Cup?
The trade deadline was New York’s last chance to make a splash and show Tavares the team is committed to winning. Even if they chose to sell off assets they could have made the argument they’d flip those assets at the draft to help the team next season.
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Now that the club has done nothing to help the team’s future, in a year they’ll likely miss the playoffs, that future appears destined to go on without Tavares.