It's Time To Buy On The Island

This is the year that the New York Islanders should look to be buyers at the trade deadline.

It is only just eight days away, and the Islanders presently sit with 31 points, just two shy from tying the New York Rangers for the eighth and final playoff spot with only 16 games remaining in the regular season (Photo Credit: Official New York Islanders/Flickr).

Typically at this juncture, the Isles are on the verge of collapsing into the final three spots of the Eastern Conference and increasing their chances of winning the draft lottery. Although that is still a frightening scenario that can still play out for Garth Snow's squad, it is time for the Isles GM to make a statement that the rebuild is over.

Obtaining one or two veteran pieces on offense and defense could help give this team the added push they need to climb up in the standings and earn their first playoff berth since 2007.

But whom should the Islanders trade?

There is no question that Snow has been carefully evaluating his talent pool over the years. He's weeded out some players that he felt were not meant to play for this organization and picked up some others through the various waiver wire, trade and free agent pick-up options. But he has not made a significant splash at the trade since dealing for Ryan Smyth in his first year as the Islanders general manager.

Does he have to make a trade of that magnitude? Of course not. The Islanders very well may slip down in the standings. Losing that first round pick could be costly.

However, trading away some younger players or active Isles skaters might not be a bad idea - for the right price.

Forward David Ullstrom has struggled to maintain a roster spot and might be worth shopping around the league, although Snow might have a difficult time with him currently nursing a groin injury.

Active forwards Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey have not exactly played up to the level that they were expected. In fact, Bailey has not played up to expectations since he was drafted. Both players are still at an age where they could be valuable pick-ups for the right team that feels they can still groom them into top-six forwards.

If Snow wanted to look further down his depth charts, he has forwards Kirill Kabanov and Johan Sundstrom. The latter has scored 29 points in 47 games in his first season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Kabanov, who's season was slowed down due to injury, has thus far struggled with only eight points in 26 games played. Despite his poor numbers, Kabanov possesses a unique skill set that could be attractive to teams looking to shed veteran salaries.

And then of course there is Nino Niederreiter, who's agent apparently requested a trade from the New York Islanders organization earlier this year. He has still played well with the Sound Tigers and could be looking at a promotion to the NHL next season if he remains in an orange and blue jersey. But does he really want to leave? How does he fit into Snow's long term plans after his agent made a public request to leave the team to the media? (Robert Kowal/Flickr)

There is little doubt that Niederreiter could have the largest return on the trade market. But would the return be greater than keeping him for the long run?

Bottom line, there is no way for Snow to retain every player he drafts. If leaders and veterans such as John Tavares, Matt Moulson, Michael Grabner, Frans Nielsen, Matt Martin, etc. are going to be here for the foreseeable future, then it is not possible for every one of his players in Juniors and Bridgeport to make the jump to the NHL.

There are five games between now and the trade deadline, including tonight's tilt against the Washington Capitals. A lot can determine in that time frame what Garth Snow will do when the time comes.

But this much is certain - the rebuild is over. The team has officially been taken over by the foundation that was started so many years ago. It is time for Snow to use some of his tradable assets for exactly what they are and improve this team for now and the future.

-Rob McGowan
F

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