Metro Leaders Have Needs, But Appear To Lack Draft Picks Needed To Make Impact Deals

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — If you are expecting the Islanders to add some pieces for a run at the Stanley Cup, you may end up being disappointed.

According to a report in the New York Post, the Isles (39-20-2), who have been at or near the top of the Eastern Conference all season, do not plan to be buyers prior to the March 2 trade deadline, and are prepared to go to war in the playoffs with the team as currently constructed.

The Post’s report on one hand makes sense, but on the other is curious.

The Islanders, who could probably use a veteran goal scorer and a depth defenseman, are hurting when it comes to trade assets in the form of preferred high draft picks. They traded their 2015 first and second rounders to Buffalo in October of 2013 as part of the package to get forward Thomas Vanek. The move was considered a big risk at the time and ended up backfiring when Vanek chose to sign with Minnesota during free agency this past summer.

A week before the 2014-15 regular season started, general manager Garth Snow sent a pair of second round picks and a conditional third rounder to Boston for defenseman Johnny Boychuk.

What the Islanders do have is plenty of quality young players and top-tier prospects, but it appears they have no intention of risking the future by dealing anyone from their 25-man roster or their blue chippers in the minors, which include defensemen Griffin Reinhart and Ryan Pulock.

Then again, the Post’s report should fall under some scrutiny considering Snow and the Islanders have long been very tight-lipped about their business. Rarely have reports attributing unnamed sources panned out over the last several years, and the general belief is only Snow and owner Charles Wang know the direction the Islanders plan to take.

As it stands, the Islanders have been a high-flying and resilient bunch based largely off of the play of superstar center John Tavares, their forward depth and the offseason acquisitions of Boychuk, defenseman Nick Leddy and goaltender Jaroslav Halak. However, the Isles have been nicked up a bit of late, with veteran forward Mikhail Grabovski out with an upper body injury and fourth line center Casey Cizikas sidelined with a foot injury.

What also remains to be seen is the status of center Frans Nielsen, who suffered a left leg injury during Sunday’s loss to Vancouver. Nielsen returned to the game, but head coach Jack Capuano said his status going forward wasn’t immediately known. In addition, forward Michael Grabner, though currently healthy, has struggled to stay in the lineup all season, playing in just 22 games due to a variety of ailments.

The Islanders entered play Monday in first place in the Metropolitan Division, but just two points ahead of the Rangers and four clear of the fourth-place Capitals. The Isles are in the midst of a four-game homestand, which will continue Tuesday against Arizona before back-to-back games against Calgary and Carolina on Friday and Saturday.