Are The Isles Pursuing Kovalchuk?
Every Islander fan has seen that Garth Snow is capable of making a shake-up when the time is right. Last year he moved from the bottom of the first round all the way up to the 12th overall pick to select defenseman, Calvin de Haan. The year before that he moved down from the 5th overall pick to the 9th to take Josh Bailey. And in his first year as General Manager, Garth Snow made his most memorable trade by dealing his first-round pick, Ryan O'Marra and Robert Nilsson to the Edmonton Oilers for Ryan Smyth. He was an exciting addition to a team fighting to make the playoffs but was not enough to advance them past the Buffalo Sabres in the first round.
So what happened as a result?
The Islanders bought out Alexei Yashin and did everything they could to sign Captain Canada under contract, promising him the "C" on his jersey, making the Isles his team to lead. But he turned them down and headed for the snowy mountains of Colorado.
The best part of this deal is that it brought the Islanders to the center of attention in the hockey world. Canadian media rushed to the Coliseum to interview Smyth after the trade. But we all knew that he wasn't going to stay when he cried his eyes out on national television, proclaiming that he was going to win the Stanley Cup and bring it back to Edmonton.
And what happened with that pick, Ryan O'Marra and Robert Nilsson? I couldn't even tell you who Edmonton ended up drafting, O'Marra is still in the minors and Nilsson has been the subject of trade rumors since he has been an under-achiever. All-in-all, Snow chose the right players for a deadline deal that didn't hurt the future.
So can he do it again?
My bet is not likely. When Smyth chose the Avalanche, the Islanders did not have too much of a back-up plan. They scrambled to sign Bill Guerin and Mike Comrie while throwing in the kids for a new youth movement. So far this plan has worked out far better than Ryan Smyth probably would have. The younger players are on their way to becoming top-six fowards in regards to Josh Bailey, Kyle Okposo, John Tavares, Matt Moulson and Frans Nielsen, and defenseman like Jack Hillen and Andrew MacDonald have been proving their worth.
Snow has promised to stick to this plan until it is complete. Being that this is only the second year it is safe to say that none of those players are going anywhere. In my previous blog I listed Comeau, Bergenheim, Tambellini and Gervais as possible trade-bait, but if you think any of those guys will bring us Ilya Kovalchuk you need to have your head examined.
Don't expect Garth to part with this year's first round pick either. Although making the playoffs would be a hard earned bonus for a team that finished at the bottom of the standings last year, they are also in the middle of the pack for a top-five draft pick. As Joe Pesci said in My Cousin Vinny, these yute's are what Snow is all about. Another top-five player will be just as rewarding as entering the playoffs.
And even if Snow did something to surprise us or managed to tweak a deal where Kovalchuk came to the island without management giving up much in return, do you really think he would stay? If he wants out of Atlanta it's because he wants to go to a contender. The Isles may be that team in a few years, but they are far from it right now. And with the Lighthouse Project (yeah, remember that thing?) still waiting to meet it's fate, he will find his way out of here just as fast as he came in.
It's a move not worth making, and I don't see Garth wasting his resources in doing so.
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