The New York Islanders are having a lackluster offseason thus far. Hoping to make a splash, the team missed out on acquiring Johnny Gaudreau and Ondrej Palat while also failing to put together a strong offer for Matthew Tkachuk. The Islanders have a good roster but are still searching for an elite forward, particularly on the top two lines, and hope to acquire a star scorer as a result.
One of the teams that the Islanders can oddly enough become trade partners with is the Columbus Blue Jackets. It might appear strange for general manager (GM) Lou Lamoriello to make a deal with the team that grabbed Gaudreau in free agency, but the Blue Jackets could be looking to open up salary cap space and if the opportunity is there, the Islanders can acquire one of their players.
The player the Blue Jackets will most likely move if the team is going to continue to trade players is Gustav Nyquist. While he is an excellent forward, his contract carries a $5.5 million cap hit and he is playing on an expiring contract. Moving the 32-year-old forward would immediately improve the Blue Jackets’ salary cap situation and allow the team to still have a great forward unit led by Gaudreau, Jenner, and Patrik Laine.
Nyquist wouldn’t be the splash addition for the Islanders but he’d still improve the top six of the forward unit. Scoring 18 goals and 35 assists last season and scoring 15 goals or more in seven of his 10 seasons in the NHL, he can both find open skaters in the offensive zone while also oftentimes finding the back of the net himself. He would also strengthen the wing position for the Islanders and could specifically help out Mathew Barzal, who took a step back last season without veteran Jordan Eberle, who was selected by the Kraken in the Expansion Draft.
Alexandre Texier is on the IR and had last season cut short with injuries. However, Texier, who had a strong showing in the IIHF World Championships for France, is expected to return by the start of next season and hopefully, return to form. Ideally, the Blue Jackets will keep him on the roster but he is one of the more intriguing forwards that could both open up cap space and possibly return a prospect in a trade.
When Texier is healthy, he is a reliable top-six forward, scoring 11 goals and nine assists in only 36 games in the 2021-22 season. In addition, at 22 years old he provides a young scoring presence and still has room to improve. It’s unlikely the Blue Jackets will move the young and promising forward but if the Islanders put together a strong enough offer, possibly including a prospect in return, the two teams could make the move.
The Islanders already made a move to help out the left side of their defense and the defensive unit altogether. On the first night of the NHL Entry Draft, Lamoriello traded the 13th overall pick to the Montreal Canadiens to acquire Alexander Romanov, a proven hard-hitting defenseman. As a result, adding a defenseman like Vladislav Gavrikov for the defensive unit not only seems like a luxury but is no longer an immediate need for the Islanders.
However, if the prospects, specifically Robin Salo aren’t ready at the NHL level, the team will still need a defenseman to pair alongside Scott Mayfield. While Romanov is an ideal young defenseman to pair with Noah Dobson, Gavrikov is the perfect pair for Mayfield as another veteran blueliner that first and foremost improves the team on the defensive end of the ice.
The Blue Jackets’ defense was one of the worst in the league last season, allowing 3.62 goals per game but Gavrikov was one of their bright spots defensively. He had a team-high 3.1 defensive point shares and 138 blocked shots along with five goals and 28 assists on the offensive end of the ice. With the Blue Jackets hoping to improve defensively next season, they will likely keep Gavrikov on the roster but with one year left on his contract and a $2.8 million cap hit, he could be a player on the move.
Why the Blue Jackets and Islanders Can Be Perfect Trade Partners
The Blue Jackets and the Islanders both play in the Metropolitan Division and will face each other four times next season, making a move between the two teams seem like a non-starter. However, a win-win trade, one that opens up cap space for the Blue Jackets while also adding talent to the Islanders could be made by either executive.
Furthermore, both Kekäläinen and Lamoriello are quiet, savvy executives who both have an eye for finding talented players and waiting for the opportunity to make the best possible move. The two are often tough to predict and difficult for fans to figure out but together could make a deal that would benefit both rosters.
Mike Fink joined The Hockey Writers in November 2020 and covers the New York Islanders. In addition to covering the Islanders, Fink writes about the NHL at large and contributes as a weekly guest to The Hockey Writers Podcast. Follow Mike on Twitter @Finks_thoughts for more Islanders and general hockey insights.