Time For Change, Time To Trade The Pick
The Montreal Canadiens step down from the podium and the camera turns to the General Manager of the New York Islanders, Garth Snow. Accompanied by his top scouts and assistants, and most likely Kevin Connolly who formerly was on Entourage, Snow remains seated. With Pierre McGuire ready to analyze Snow's draft choice at fourth overall, the Isles GM leaves the podium vacant for the Commissioner of the NHL, Gary Bettman. (Nassau News Live/Flickr)
"We have a trade to announce," are the words that would echo throughout a startled building.
"The Islanders have chosen to trade the fourth overall pick in this year's draft..."
But to whom? And for whom?
This is the first time since the Ryan Smyth deal that it appears that trading a top-five pick could be a wise and beneficial option to the rebuilding Islanders. As I stated in my previous post, the Islanders have had roller coaster seasons each of the past three years and have seemingly hit a standstill in their progress. Their place in the standings hasn't changed; their overall record hasn't changed; the personnel on the ice has barely changed; all signs point that the Islanders NEED A CHANGE in order to achieve on-ice success.
Free agency has yet to work out in the Islanders favor. There is always an argument that it's been a good thing. Signing Christian Ehrhoff or Ville Leino to the contracts they got last season would have been absurd. Locking up a guy like Brad Richards until he's 40 years old, despite working out now, will likely seem foolish as he gets older. But there is an underlying difference between the teams that have paid for the stars and the New York Islanders - those players chose to go their current teams over the Islanders. The arena situation, the old building and the ignorant idea that Long Island is all that you see on Hempstead Turnpike (for those of you who have never been here, the Marriott and Hooters are not Long Island's greatest attractions) have prevented top ranked UFA's from even considering the New York Islanders as a potential working place.
In the years that Snow has been the General Manager, the organization has added John Tavares, Josh Bailey, Travis Hamonic, Nino Niederreiter, Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson, Scott Mayfield, Casey Cizikas, David Ullstrom and many more. Some still are waiting to become full time NHL players, while others already are here. Snow has also continued to find a way to move his later picks in the second rounds to get him additional first round picks. Calvin de Haan was drafted 11 spots after Tavares, which originally was a late first round pick acquired via trade. Nelson was taken 30th overall two years ago as the last first round pick of 2010.
For the first time in his career, Snow should entertain moving a top-five draft pick for an established top-six forward or top-four defenseman. He shouldn't trade it for the rights to negotiate with an impending free agent - that would be unwise and too much of a gamble considering that the pick is so high. But look at a player like Rick Nash; he wanted out of Columbus and was unable to get his wish. Granted, he would have to waive his no-trade clause to come here, and he might not be willing to do that. But Nash is an example of a scoring forward that would help this hockey club that is already signed for quite some time. (AmyJeanius/Flickr)
Parting with the fourth overall pick might include some other assets in order to get a player in Rick Nash's class. But as shown above, the Islanders have plenty of talent that can be considered movable.
The last thing that Garth Snow should do is turn into Mike Milbury and offer another hockey team the world for one established superstar - and I don't think he would. If Snow were to make this type of deal, I think it would be safe to assume that it would have to be reasonable for both organizations.
Before I continue to look at who the Islanders could even consider, the first question that needs to be answered is if Snow would even think about trading his first round pick. It would be completely uncharacteristic of him and, according to his words in the past, would "deviate from the plan" of building through the draft. My argument is that it wouldn't. If anything, it would "elevate the plan" to a new level. The team lacks fire power. It lacks depth. The draft has and will provide some key players for this team in the future. But if Snow wants the rebuild to move out of the bottom five of the league; to get out of the draft lottery; to actually see progress, he will need to supply talent.
Part of Snow's original statement on the rebuild was to not only build through the draft, but also to include the "sprinkling of free agents" to help take it along the way. Unless you consider Brian Rolston, Mike Mottau, Milan Jurcina and Marty Reasoner successful signings, I think we can all agree that this phase of the plan hasn't worked out just yet.
Maybe it's time for Snow to look at the plan in a new light and realize that if he wants to see some positive changes, he will have to change his position on the rebuild.