Islanders Seek Final Puzzle Piece

These past few days has been a roller coaster ride for New York Islanders fans. They saw the Islanders just miss out on a huge potential trade with the Edmonton Oilers for Taylor Hall, and they said good-bye to three long time core players. However, Isles fans also saw general manager Garth Snow be very aggressive on July 1st in NHL free agency. The Islanders seek the final puzzle piece.

Changing the Mix

As the late great David Bowie said “Still don’t know what I was waiting for, ch-ch-ch-ch changes.” Garth Snow has taken that lyric to heart — gone are Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo and Matt Martin. Nielsen has been with the big club since 2008, Okposo 2009 and Martin 2010. Needless to say the Islanders lineup will look very different starting next season.

New York loses two top-six forwards and a great fourth liner as well. Okposo was one of the Isles top scorers the last three seasons, Nielsen has been a two-way player and a key cog on New York’s specialty teams and shootouts, and Martin was a energetic physical fourth liner. All of them will be missed.

Garth Snow brings in left wingers Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera, adding scoring, grit, experience and leadership with these two acquisitions. Ladd has two Stanley Cup rings (Carolina & Chicago) and Chimera has played for a top team in the Capitals the last number of years.

Ladd could wind up being the finisher that Islanders captain John Tavares has been waiting for. Remember Okposo has only hit the 25 goal mark once in his career and Ladd has never played with a center as talented as Tavares and could easily hit the 30 goal mark this coming season. Ladd should also be a huge addition to a maddening inconsistent power play.

Still Short One Forward

The Islanders are still short one top-six forward from where they want to be come opening night. With all the top unrestricted free agent forwards signing on July 1st Garth Snow will have to go the trade route. There appears to be a number of dance partners who are shopping top six forwards.

The Columbus Blue Jackets could move Scott Hartnell given his age and their salary cap situation. There has been talk that Hurricanes GM Ron Francis could trade Jeff Skinner and Steve Yzerman, the boss of the Tampa Bay Lightning, is in a huge salary cap crunch. The Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres and Colorado Avalanche are all in the market for defenseman as well. Finally would the Ottawa Senators listen to offers on restricted free agent Mike Hoffman?

The Islanders have an incredible amount of depth in their organization from the main roster through the prospect pipeline. They have three goalie’s on the roster in Jaroslav Halak, Thomas Greiss and J.F Berube. Young defenseman Adam Pelech and Scott Mayfield are ready to start their NHL careers but currently are New York’s 7th and 8th blue liners. New York could also move a forward in a package deal to upgrade their top six. Finally, the Islanders are deep with top prospects which they can also use to land a top scoring forward.

Garth Snow has the assets to make a significant trade. Now Snow must find a way to land that missing piece of the puzzle.