The New York Islanders have come out of the gates well so far this season (4-2-1 heading into the October 24th game at St. Louis). The Islanders appear ready to take the next step in becoming a contending team in the Eastern Conference. They are well built for the regular season, as they have depth and talent in all three areas. However, another 100+ point regular season and a well played, hard fought first round playoff loss against a strong team, will not cut it for this organization this season. Don’t get me wrong the Islanders would be a tough team to face come playoff time currently constituted. But what general manager Garth Snow needs to do is to make sure this team makes a lot of noise come playoff time.
It’s that’s simple. For the Islanders to put themselves in the best position possible, they need a second pairing defenseman who is extremely solid in his zone. I don’t have to tell everybody how valuable these players are come playoff time. If that defenseman could also have strong leadership skills as well as have a Stanley Cup championship on his resume, well that will be the icing on the cake. The good news for Islanders fans is I know of such a player. The bad news is due to circumstances it’s not going to be easy to trade for this player.
The Mitchell Situation
Remember the classic “Pulp Fiction”? Well one part of the movie was called the Bonnie situation. For the Islanders they have the Mitchell situation. Like I said I have the player who is the missing piece for the Islanders. His name is Willie Mitchell. Mitchell has all the areas checked off on what I described that the Isles need to go along with Travis Hamonic on the team’s second blue line unit. Hamonic and Mitchell as the second defense pairing with Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy on the first would be a blueprint to major team success. Mitchell is 38 and becomes a unrestricted free agent at season’s end. However, he is also an important part of the Florida Panthers team, as he is the captain. Florida has one playoff appearance since the 2000-2001 season.
The Panthers franchise needs to take a step forward and make the playoffs this season. So how does trading Mitchell make sense? It only does under two scenarios. One is if come the trade deadline unfortunately Florida is not in position to challenge for the playoffs. This would be the ideal scenario for the Islanders. The second scenario is if a team just was willing to grossly overpay for the solid veteran Mitchell who is a UFA at seasons end. In terms of managing one’s organization if a GM was willing to do that you could file that under being negligent. So there is the rub for the Islanders.
I have the perfect player for the team but the odds are the stars will not be aligned for a trade between the two clubs. Keep in mind long term the Islanders are and should be very excited about their blue line. They already have three stalwarts for years to come and the organization should be very excited about youngsters Calvin de Haan, Ryan Pulock and Scott Mayfield. But in terms of this season New York could really use a Willie Mitchell.
Secondary Options Not a Great Fit
When looking at the other pending UFA defenseman there is not an ideal fit like Mitchell. Also when looking at the sure fire lottery teams for this season, again none of those teams have that missing piece defensemen that fit the Isles needs. I am not in communication with the NHL GM’s in the league like Snow obviously. Maybe there is a available defenseman via a trade that fits the bill for New York. But when looking around the league I am having a hard time finding that missing piece for the Islanders on the blue line that they can acquire in a trade.
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