The New York Islanders finally snapped their 11-game losing streak against the Ottawa Senators. They are still winless at home in six games where they play a lot more than on the road moving forward. One win doesn’t fix things, and with the COVID-19 situation, injuries, and starting the season on a 13-game road trip, they still have lots of work to do. These don’t excuse the Islanders from how they’ve played, as they do still have to be better.
The season is long, but in the event that they can’t climb their way back into the playoff picture, general manager Lou Lamoriello has to start thinking of which assets he will want to sell. The players most likely to be traded are those who are on expiring contracts. This is both because they are the least likely players to be back on the team next season if they don’t already have a contract in place, as well as freeing up some room for younger talent to be called up and get NHL experience on a team that is just playing out their games.
Teams can look for all kinds of rentals to fill their needs moving down the stretch. The Islanders have a specific type of rental that teams will definitely be looking for. Three of their players are veterans who have great leadership and playoff experience. A team could always use a guy who knows what it takes to push through the toughest games of the season and can be a great mentor for the younger players who don’t have that experience yet. They are all also being paid a league-minimum salary, so any team can afford their services.
Here are a few names that we could see moved if the Islanders are sellers closer to the deadline.
After Zach Parise was bought out of his large contract with the Minnesota Wild, he signed a one-year, $750k contract with the Islanders for this season. The team was expected to be a Stanley Cup contender, as they made it to the conference final each of the past two seasons and lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
With a lot of money tied up in players already on contracts with term on them, Lamoriello didn’t have much to work with and he had to bring in players for cheap. Parise has just four assists in 21 games played, but he is a better player than what the stats show. Yes, he is getting older, but the team around him has struggled both defensively and offensively, so he’s not getting much help producing.
Parise can play throughout the lineup, and with over 100 playoff games played, he brings a ton of value to a team that’s lacking in that department.
Now in a role as a third pair defenceman, Zdeno Chara is still able to play physical and solid defensively. His massive frame also allows him to block lots of shots, great for teams that allow lots of shots or the goaltenders are a bit weaker. Whenever he decides to use it, his shot is still lethal, but his game has shifted almost exclusively to the defensive side of the game as he has aged.
A team couldn’t ask for much more experience, as Chara has played over 1600 regular-season games and 200 playoff games. He is a former Mark Messier Leadership Award winner, seven-time all-star, and Norris Trophy winner. He is 44 years old, but he can still be effective in a lesser role. His career plus-291 speaks for itself, as his number one goal is to protect his net.
Andy Greene is the third player in this group of veterans from the Islanders. He has also played over 1000 regular-season games and had himself three long postseason runs, two of which were with the Islanders and one in a trip to the Stanley Cups Final in 2011-12 (“Islanders’ Andy Greene scratched and clawed way to doorstep of 1,000th game”, New York Post, Nov. 14, 2021). He is another solid defensive player who is a blocking machine and could hit 2000 if he plays one more season.
It’s never a bad idea to bolster a back-end with an experienced defenceman who could slide in on the bottom pairing and provide the security for a younger defenceman to take more chances offensively.
The Islanders do have a few more names like Cal Clutterbuck, Austin Czarnik, and Thomas Hickey who are unrestricted free agents at the end of the season, but they are much less appealing with their contracts and ability. Maybe if the Islanders are willing to eat some cap, then a team may be interested in adding Clutterbuck to their fourth line where he’s very efficient. Keep an eye on Parise, Chara, and Greene, as they would be prime candidates to move to a contender if the Islanders are out of it.
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Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering mainly the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. He covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. He will also keep you up to date with NHL Stats News and trade talks.
You can find more of his work here.