Draft day trades that only involve picks are a relative rarity in the NHL, but they do happen a few times every year. Sure, it’s more often that a player is traded for picks, but when you believe a game-changer is still on the board, it can be worthwhile to package a few picks together in order to make a move to get them.
This is what happened between the New York Islanders and the Tampa Bay Lightning back at the 2014 NHL Draft. For the Lightning, they had two first-round selections and for the Islanders, they had draft capital and the need for a top-six scoring talent.
Seeing a potential star slipping down the board, New York decided to strike, pulling the trigger on a trade. They sent the 35th and 57th overall picks to Tampa Bay in exchange for the 28th overall.
Now, six years later we can look back on this trade and start to get the full picture of how it worked out for both teams.
What the Lightning Got From the Islanders
By moving down seven spots, the Lightning got to take two swings in the second-round of a draft considered deep with defensive talent. With pick 35, they selected Swedish defenseman, Dominik Masin.
As a smart, big-bodied defenseman, Masin was a perfect pick at the time, as the Lightning’s prospect pool lacked this kind of defensive talent. And while he appeared to be developing right on track, posting 40 points for the Peterborough Petes in the 2015-16 season, he just could never break onto Tampa Bay’s roster.
After four seasons with the Syracuse Crunch, the Lightning’s AHL affiliate, it was announced in 2020 that Masin had signed a contract to play in the KHL. If he plays well overseas, then he may get a second shot at the NHL, but likely not with Tampa Bay.
The Lightning’s second pick acquired in the trade was used to select defenseman Jonathan MacLeod. As a defensive-first-defenseman, MacLeod also appeared to fill a needed role for Tampa Bay, who lacked that skillset in their prospect pool.
Unfortunately for MacLeod, after he completed four years playing for Boston University, the Lightning decided to move on from him without offereing a contract. While he would go on to play in the ECHL, this pick was a bit of a whiff for Tampa Bay.
What the Islanders Got From the Lightning
In return for two second-round picks, the Islanders jumped back into the first round of the 2014 draft and selected one of the top forwards available, Josh Ho-Sang. This was seen as a high-risk, high-reward move, as Ho-Sang had one of the best toolkits in the draft, but lacked that consistency teams hoped for in a first-round pick.
As said by THW in his 2014 Draft Profile:
He has top 10 skill, but I would venture a guess that Ho-Sang ends up in the 15-25 range.
While it was clear coming out of the draft that Ho-Sang had an NHL-caliber skillset, he just was never able to put it all together. In around 50 games with the Islanders, he posted seven goals and 17 points, a far cry from his expected potential.
Much like Masin, it appears that Ho-Sang will look to extend his career in the KHL next year. He signed a one-year deal for the 2020 season that could be the exact jumpstart his career needs. If things go well, he could make a return to the NHL down the line, but as of now, it seems unlikely that he will live up to his first-round billing with the Islanders.
One More 2014 Lightning-Islanders Pick Swap
Before we close out this article, there was one more Lightning-Islanders trade that occurred at the 2014 draft. This was a purely seventh-round move, which sent New York’s 2014 seventh to Tampa Bay for their 2014 seventh and a 2015 seventh.
With this pick, the Lightning took Cam Darcy, an overage forward with a solid toolkit. He showed flashes of talent and even played a few years with the Crunch before being ultimately released. However, he is carving out a solid AHL career, which is no small feat for a seventh-rounder.
To put a bow on this trade, the Islanders selected Lucas Sutter with the 2014 seventh and eventually sent the 2015 seventh to the San Jose Sharks in a conditional trade for Tyler Kennedy. Kennedy played 13 games for New York, where Sutter never started in the NHL.
2014 Lightning-Islanders Trades Were a Miss for All
Pick for pick trades are always tough, as there is no such thing as a guarantee at the draft. You may look at a player and think that you found the steal of the event, only to have them not develop or struggle with injuries.
Unlike in 2015, when the Islanders traded for the Lightning’s first-round pick and both teams got a nightly starter out of the deal, neither team struck gold with their 2014 trades.
This doesn’t mean that this was a bad move for either team, though. It’s just a reminder that succeeding at the draft is hard, and you should celebrate the hits more than deriding the misses.