New York Islanders Mailbag: Best Case on Trade Deadline Day, Best Option, More

We’re a day late but it is time for another New York Islanders Mailbag, and this week’s is a Trade Deadline special.

At this year’s NHL Trade Deadline, the New York Islanders will be looking to acquire a scoring threat in Anders Lee‘s absence. From what I have been told, the top priority for the Isles is New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri. But with General Manager Lou Lamoriello at the helm, we won’t know the true story until after it actually happens.

With that being said, let’s dive into this edition of the Islanders Mailbag…

New York Islanders Mailbag: Trade Deadline Edition

Kyle Palmieri (21)

Kyle Palmieri #21 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

I want to hear what you think the best case, worst case, and middle ground scenarios are as the Trade Deadline approaches. @aAbergerBrian

Hey Brian, thanks for the question, as always.

The best circumstance, the most unlikely circumstance, is that the Islanders find a way to move a contract like Leo Komarov (one-year, $3 million) or Andrew Ladd (two-years, $5.5 million). After doing that, the Isles then acquire forward Kyle Palmieri from the New Jersey Devils and Columbus Blue Jackets Captain Nick Foligno.

I’ll throw in that the Islanders do not have to give up a First-Round pick either. This adds not just a goalscorer to play in the top-six, depending on Head Coach Barry Trotz’s line combinations, but  it also gives them a depth player. It is never a bad idea to bring in a player whose strength is leadership, especially when the team’s elected leader cannot play.

The worst-case (and the unlikely case) is that the Islanders do not acquire anyone at the Trade Deadline. If that is the case, we should expect Leo Komarov to remain on the top line and potentially see Ross Johnston continue to be in the lineup, with Michael Dal Colle‘s injury seeming more like a nagging one.

The middle ground is that the Islanders get one of the two players I mentioned above. If it is Palmieri, the Islanders reach and give up a First-Round pick to rent his abilities. If they get Foligno and he walks, it is not the end of the world because it should realistically take a Second-Round pick, maybe a “B” level prospect to acquire his skill-sets.

Taylor Hall (4)

Buffalo Sabres left wing Taylor Hall (4). Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Is Hall or Palmieri a better fit for the best chance to make a deep run this postseason for the Isles? @dzuck5

Zuck, thank you for the question pal. For me, this is an easy choice. From what I have heard, the focus is not on Taylor Hall and I truly believe the New York Islanders do not go after him. The Buffalo Sabres are asking for a lot, and despite Hall having his worst year in the NHL, he is still valuable. I just do not think it is worth giving up the assets. Let’s look at what it would take to make the trade.

Hall is a talent every NHL team would want to have. But this Islander team plays a certain way and I think Palmieri is a better fit. He goes to the dirty areas (like Lee) and the Islanders’ top-line has been bred to play with a man in front. Hall is a finesse player and rarely goes to the dirty areas. In the Playoffs, it is about grit and determination so I say Palmieri all the way.

Semyon Varlamov (40)

Semyon Varlamov #40 of the New York Islanders. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

This is out of left field. With the way Sorokin has been playing, and with Schneider around, anyway, Varly gets traded? @JoshL757

Josh, I do admire the thought process here. Semyon Varlamov has two years remaining on his contract after this season with a cap hit of $5 million. One of the reasons GM Lamoriello signed the veteran netminder two years ago was because he believed he could help get Ilya Sorokin here. He has done that.

Now Varlamov has not been the same goaltender we saw earlier in the year. It does not help his case that Sorokin has started to find his game at the NHL level. That has earned him more of a 50/50 split, and who knows, come Playoff time, as Trotz likes to ride the hot hand.

But trading Varlamov is out of the question. We have seen the importance of tandems, even as insurance. Last season, Thomas Greiss was not good post All-Star break, and if it had not been for Varlamov’s ability to hold down the fort, the Islanders would have been in trouble. When Varlamov struggled in the postseason after dominating, Greiss stepped in and won Game Seven against the Flyers.

We saw the Dallas Stars go to the Stanley Cup Finals last year with backup Anton Khudobin in goal with Ben Bishop injured. Keeping two strong netminders will be necessary this year. Cory Schneider has not played a single minute this season, so relying on him is out of the question.

Casey Cizikas (53)

Casey Cizikas #53 of the New York Islanders. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

You think that Zeeker will have to take less than the 3.35M per season for him to be able to stay with the Islanders? Not much cap room and have to re-sign Pelech, Beau and Sorokin? @AlaRocco0801

Right now, the New York Islanders have a serious cap issue. However, whoever the Isles trade for, starting contract negotiations on an extension is kind of out of the question. For the Islanders, this was potentially the last year for their dominant fourth-line. Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck had to make a statement, and early on, they failed to do so. But now into April, this line has been tremendous. Martin, who signed a four-year, $6 million deal before the start of the season, has seen an uptick in his offense, already surpassing last year’s numbers.

Now for a guy like Cizikas, I genuinely believe he would take a team-friendlier deal. His last deal, signed in 2016, had an AAV of $3.35 M. It would be tough to argue he does not deserve more. Cizikas has a significant role on this Islander team, whether it sets the tone for each game or coming up large on the penalty kill.

He has been an Islander his whole career, and I think he plans to stay on the team. Trading Anthony Beauvillier (RFA) to create some cap room may be an unpopular move that gets done. Let’s revisit this once the Stanley Cup Playoffs end.

Nick Foligno (71)

Nick Foligno #71 of the Columbus Blue Jackets. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Any other names the Isles should at least take a look at other than Palmieri or Hall? @JoshuaGrenning

Josh, the Islanders should be eyeing Nick Foligno. He is a big body that could do wonders on either the top-line alongside Mat Barzal, or on the third-line with Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Oliver Wahlstrom. He is a born leader, a gritty player, and would cost the least. I also believe Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown, a former Captain, would be a strong choice as well. It seems like every goal he scores, 15 this season, came from inside Gretzky’s office. He may put up his best numbers in three years. That’s in 26 shorter games.

Foligno only has seven goals on the year and is trending down in offensive output. Given the better year, however, Brown will cost more to acquire, so there is that to consider. It should be an interesting week or so, that’s for sure.