Gallof: Trade Deadline Reality — Islanders’ Snow Not Shopping For Magic Solutions

If GM Does Pull Off Deals, They Won't Be What The Fans Are Looking For

By B.D. Gallof,

The Islanders are heading toward the trade deadline much like how Obi-Wan warned Luke Skywalker in Star Wars about Mos Eisley Spaceport.

“You’ll never find a more wretched hive of rumor and hype on this side of the NHL galaxy.”

OK, I embellished a little, but you get the idea.

The bottom line is, with a new collective bargaining agreement battle looming on the horizon, the Feb. 27 deadline should be chock full of contenders gearing up for a big run before teams are likely forced to a harder line on spending due a salary cap rollback starting next season. Other teams will look to position themselves in lieu of that to have more cap room, adding talent, prospects and picks for established players.

For Islanders fans, the trade deadline is annually almost as frustrating as summer free agency. Fans seem to hold onto the dream that there is some magic pill to be swallowed here that will somehow solve all the team’s problems.

Well, sadly, that will not be the case.

Currently, the Islanders, despite Monday’s embarrassing 6-0 loss to Ottawa, are again six points out of what is a tight race for the eighth playoff spot in the East. But, even though they are still within striking distance with 23 games to play, the Isles will be neither buyers nor sellers at the deadline.

As I’ve said in this column and on Twitter, goaltender Evgeni Nabokov is not likely to be moved. In fact, I wouldn’t expect this team to make many, if any, changes at all.

General Manager Garth Snow is reportedly not actively shopping Nabokov, nor any other player this year. It is a market of too many buyers and not enough sellers. This is good news for the Isles IF someone wants to overpay to get a player. If someone should call, Snow will listen to any and all offers on just about anyone this side of John Tavares.

However, you really wouldn’t want to hold your breath over this happening.

One of Snow’s key attributes is his unflappable demeanor, and the fact that he tends to stick with what he intends. Once he sets a price or decides that he wants to go for that playoff spot, which is exactly what he and the Islanders are doing, you can’t tell him the odds. He’s just not interested.

If you wanted the exact opposite of Mike Milbury, well, you’ve got it. While Milbury would talk himself into making deals and reaches beyond all sense and propriety, Snow sticks to his convictions to the letter.

So when P.A. Parenteau chooses to shelf his contract talks until after the season, this will not make Snow blink nor suddenly deal him for anything he can get out of panic. It is far more likely that Parenteau is not moved.

When Snow does negotiate with Parenteau and his agent, Allan Walsh (also known as “Greedo” in certain circles), he will also not blink twice. He will stick to the salary structure and offer a reasonable deal. He will not blow up the salary structure for his emerging star, a free agent, or in some trade.

This is a key component that seems to be forgotten by many in the peanut galley. Teams, especially in a salary cap era, must think about existing salary cap structure and ensure its health, especially when there are so many young players coming up to fuel a rebuilding process.

Unless you are a Stanley Cup contending team, you cannot afford to destroy or at least warp that salary structure. Nor can just afford to deal young players away without replacing them beyond their value. The Islanders, who have been struggling in rebuilding mode while their venue issues continue to inch forward, have very little room for error.

There is a fan post making the rounds on how Nabokov’s stats are inflated, thus creating his value high, and how it makes all the sense in the world to deal him. However, missing from that list are counterpoints worth noting:

It’s about wins. With Nabokov in net the Islanders more often than not have had a chance to win every game. Whatever his stats are, inflated or not, the fact remains with this Russian in net the team has been able to climb to the NHL’s version of .500. This is something that was missing in subsequent years and with a team that has only one offensive line clicking, and a defense with holes the size of the Pit of Sarlacc, this is something far more tangible and why Snow has no intention of moving this goalie at this juncture.

Another glaring issue is the very crowded goalie market. Goalies can be gotten for a song this year. Why in the world would a team consider moving a pick or key prospect when they can get some warm body for virtually nothing? And especially when Nabokov does not have a history of playoff dominance?

The largest issue of all, and seemingly forgotten, is that year after year the Islanders have been buried in the standings. By being far from a contender, they have had very little unrestricted free agency purchasing power when most look to play for a contending team. Whether the Islanders can make the seventh or eighth spot or not, coming in ninth or 10th would still allow Snow to pivot a sell on being an up and comer to veterans rather than just playing pauper each summer.

Now add in the building pressure of the lease deadline in 2015, the lack of venue movement in Nassau County and the need for options and putting more pressure on the metropolitan area, and you should realize why Nabokov is in Snow’s plans, even if just for a few more months. Too many ancillary issues will continue to carry along with the team the rest of this season.

The Islanders need wins more than anything, and steps forward here are far more paramount than the mid-draft draft pick, which almost certainly will not get anything done. Snow’s interest will only be piquéd if a desperate team will overpay with a second or even first round draft pick, something, again, that is not very likely.

You can cite as many stats as you like, maybe even that Nabokov didn’t make the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs, but given where the Islanders stand, and in this columnist’s mind, the situation is undeniable.

Come the trade deadline, if you are sitting and waiting for something to happen, well, let the force be with you, young padawan.

Read more columns by B.D. Gallof

Do you think the Islanders should trade players like Parenteau and Nabokov at the deadline? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below. …

  • bcisleman

    Isles need another top 4 who can put up points and none of the prospects are going to be doing that anytime soon. Would have loved to get Quincey, but Isles were not going to trade a potent F for him as TBL did. With another top 4 and some better 3rd pair talent, Isles are a solid 5-8 seed. Otherwise, as right now, looking at the #5 pick in the draft again.

  • LIslander

    The glaring need for defensive help is obvious. Since the (alleged) goal was, is and should still be getting into the playoffs (and advancing), as was stated by Snow in the beginning of the season, I would certainly hope that Snow is working hard to try to make a deal for a top-2 defenseman (like a Ryan Suter), or if not, then at least a top-4 defenseman (like a Luke Schenn) that is needed as well as a mid-level forward (like a Derek Roy) BY the trade deadline (before these players are scoffed up by another team). But I guess that is just WAYYYY too much to even entertain the notion of considering. It certainly should not be an issue about money with likely around $10-$11 mil coming off the books at the end of the season (Ralston, Staois, Pandolfo, Reasoner & Mottau), even with signing PA & Nabby if that were to transpire. It’s not like Mr. Wang can’t afford to spend a few mil more than their current payroll level, despite supposedly losing somewhere around $20 mil or so per year on the team.
    It would be nice and refreshing to be pleasantly surprised to see the (financial) “commitment” of Mr. Wang of getting into the playoffs by doing what is needed to acquire/spend in order to improve the team THIS year (and not just painstakingly waiting yet another year of counting on hoping to improve from primarily ONLY within).
    It has been 19 years since they last won in the playoffs, and I’ve lost count on how many rebuilds they are at. I think that it may be rebuild #3. And it has to be like year 4 of this rebuild.
    While kudos & credit is certainly deserved of Mr. Snow for building a deep and talented farm system, and locking up young talented players to reasonable contracts, particularly within the budgetary constraints that seem to force the organization to operate near the CAP FLOOR, yet at the same time watching the mediocre on-ice performance year in and year out all of these (rebuilding) years is getting old, not to mention frustrating.
    Look what happened last year after that Pens game – that revived the team and they went on to play some of the best hockey in the league until the end of the regular season. And they revived the fan base while doing so and they sold more tickets.

    Note to Wang & Snow: It’s not rocket science – Spend some (i.e. a bit more, not necessarily a ton more) money to put a good on-ice product that wins consistently and the fans will come and spend their money. Winning consistently will also result in players that would be willing to start considering the Islanders as a team that they would want to play for. Which should subsequently translate into more wins. This will only help (not hurt) Mr. Wang’s case for new arena or a refurbished one.
    What is it going to take for Snow & Wang to acknowledge and realize this and proactively proceed accordingly?
    And yet throughout fans are somehow supposed to be erroneously expected to disregard the painfully slow (and exceedingly too protracted) rebuilding process of primarily building from within year in and year out and to disregard the likelihood that Wang is choosing to not spend any more that what seems is minimally necessary to put a team on the ice? Because if that is genuinely not the case, Mr Wang & Mr. Snow certainly sure do have a real strange way of showing that by not making it imperative to acquire some of the available (better) players to fill the needs of the team (including last summer and so far this year to date).
    Win one, lose one, win two, lose two…….etc. and so it goes. Same old, same old.
    I guess that fans who are rightfully frustrated and annoyed are somehow supposed to be considered wrong for having such incredibly inflated expectations from this organization.

  • Isles27

    The Isles would have to go on an incredible run from now to the end of the season to make the playoffs and if you check their schedule, it ain’t happening. So as far as the trade deadline goes any moves they make should be made for making them a playoff contender next season. I would sign Nabby if I could and also PA but not for more than 3 years, I think they already signed a couple of players to contracts that were too long. I agree with you Gallof, I don’t expect any earth shattering moves from the Isles at the deadline.

    As far as getting them to the playoffs next season I believe when you consider their success drafting and developing players, if I were the Isles, I would shop their #1 pick around at the Draft in June and try to turn that into a top 4 D man and a top 6 forward that plays gritty and chippy hockey because this team NEEDS to make the playoffs next season. Time to make some bold moves, they will probably have money to spend in the summer just to get to the cap floor, they can’t seem to be able to sign any top free agents so they need to get these ESTABLISHED NHL PLAYERS through trades. Enough with missing the playoffs, enough with the soft play, this roster needs adjustment if they have any plans to make the playoffs next season.

  • Lisa

    I’m not sure how much Mr. Gallof was paid by the Islanders to write this propaganda, but the truth is they are at the bottom of the salary scale and have NO credible veterans to aide the young talent. Not to mention, where is their heart? 6-0 in HUGE game! All the Islanders have over the past 27 years is a run to the Conference Finals in 1993 and once again, no moves at the trade deadline, no playoffs, no real hockey. The reason? It’s simple, the Islanders had a chance to become legit when they hired Neil Smith, a respected “Hockey Man.” They lost it all when he left in a PR disaster. Look at a team like Detroit, who has a hockey man behind the wheel – that is your model for success. Mr. Wang, I am grateful you kept the Islanders on Long Island this long, but unfortunately, the dream is over. Being a smart businessman, you surely must know the best thing you can do for the Islanders and their fans is sell the team.

    • Brian Daniel Gallof

      Wow. I’m really stunned on what is the most ignorant comment ever given… beating out oh so many on so many other sites. I wish I could give out a prize.

      Me being paid by the Isles would be a rich thought indeed. Wow.

    • Waldorf & Statler

      One of the dumbest comments I’ve ever read. So now the Islanders pull the strings on what WFAN columnists write? Get a clue, lady. You really ruined what could have been a good thought.

  • LI Teacher

    No way. He should stick with this up and coming team. Both players have been good for this team and I think their best chance at the playoffs is to stay the course.

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