By Mike Carver
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As the Monday NHL trade deadline approaches, it’s starting to become clear what to expect from the Islanders on the trade front.
Not much of anything.
As far as being buyers, the Islanders pretty much sealed any chance they had of that this week when they got embarrassed at home by Ottawa on Monday followed by a close loss the next night in Buffalo. Even if the Islanders had won those games and were still four to six points out of a playoff spot, it was still highly unlikely the Isles would be buyers. The combination of not wanting to give up any of their top prospects along with the fact that besides Rick Nash, there are not a lot of big names out there to be had would keep them out of the mix. And as much as all Islander fans wanted to believe that the Isles would be players for Nash when his name came out last week, the simple fact is he would never waive his no trade to come here and the Islanders would not give up the package to get him.
So the Islanders being buyers was never an option this trade deadline, in any way.
On the other side of the coin, with the way things have gone the past few games, being sellers seems to be the right path for the Islanders. There is a problem with being a seller though….
What is there to sell?
Most of the young forwards on the current roster are signed long term and are not going anywhere. John Tavares, Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo, Michael Grabner, and Franz Nielsen are among that group and will be the core of this team.
Then there are the nine players who are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents. Only two have any serious value, and it seems both do not want to go anywhere.
Evgeni Nabokov is the Islanders biggest chip. He has been tremendous for them since the first of the year and continues to show he can still play the position at an elite level. He has done everything the Isles have asked of him this year and now it looks like contract negotiations have opened to resign Nabokov. It’s clear he enjoys playing here and wants to stay for the next few years and be a part of this growing team. What this means long term for Rick DiPietro and the rest of the Islanders goaltenders is unknown, but for the short term, Nabokov is not going anywhere on Monday.
PA Parenteau is the other UFA with big value. He’s in the midst of a breakout season and is among the league leaders in assists and points and could really help a team making a serious playoff run. But just like Nabokov, Parenteau does not want to go anywhere. Can you blame him? The Isles are the one team that has given PA a fair shot and he continues to get better. If I were Garth Snow, I’d sit PA down, explain to him the situation, get whatever you can for him on Monday and let him get some playoff experience and then re-sign him July 1st to a multi-year deal. Everyone wins. But I do not expect that to happen. PA will still be here Monday night.
The rest of the Islanders free agents to be are mostly old, slow veteran defenseman who despite having playoff experience really can’t help a team. Even with the current market for D-men, no way the Isles could get much for Mark Eaton, Steve Staios, or Mike Mottau, if anything at all. And even if the Islanders somehow found someone who wanted Brian Rolston, the Isles need his 5 million dollar salary to stay above the cap floor.
All this adds up to one thing on Monday….
A very quiet trade deadline day on Long Island.
Will the Islanders make a move? Leave a comment below.