The relationship between the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders may be more strained than ever before after the most recent offseason thanks to a number of individual decisions by players and management.
Most notably, former Islanders’ captain John Tavares joined the Maple Leafs on a seven-year deal, while former Maple Leafs’ general manager Lou Lamoriello decided to leave the Leafs in favour of the GM job with the Isles.
Now, the two teams who’ve engaged in five trades since January 1999, will have more to discuss if they ever sit down at the table together again. That said, we’re here to look at the five most recent deals between these two clubs which – aside from the most recent deal involving Matt Martin – takes us back to Sept. 17, 2015.
Maple Leafs Move Matt Martin
With the direction the team was heading over the next number of years, the Maple Leafs decided on July 3, 2018, that it was time to rid themselves of a role player like Martin. Martin was shipped back to the team that drafted him in the fifth round (148th overall) back in 2008 in exchange for goaltender Eamon McAdam.
Martin had 21 points in 132 regular season games for the Maple Leafs and played a major role on the team’s fourth line. During his first stint with the Islanders, he tallied 88 points in 438 regular season games while averaging just over 11 minutes of ice-time.
On the other side, the Maple Leafs acquired McAdam who was taken 70th overall in 2013. While he has yet to make the jump to the NHL, he did post a 13-10-2 record in 29 regular season games for the ECHL’s Worcester Railers in 2017-18.
Grabbing Michael Grabner
Back in Sept. 2015, the Maple Leafs were looking to add speed to their bottom six. Reaching out to the Islanders, the team acquired forward Michael Grabner in exchange for a handful of AHL players. This included Carter Verhaeghe, Christopher Gibson, Tom Nilsson, Taylor Beck and Matthew Finn.
Grabner played just 80 games for the Maple Leafs, scoring nine goals and 18 points over that span. The following offseason, he signed with the New York Rangers where he raked in 40 points in 76 games and 31 in 59 the following year before he was shipped out to New Jersey.
As for what the Islanders received in return, Verhaeghe has continued to bounce round in the minors from the ECHL to the AHL, playing last season with the Syracuse Crunch.
Finn’s career has been the same thus far. He played the 2017-18 season with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers and the ECHL’s Florida Everblades.
Nilsson played the 2016-17 seasons with the AHL’s Utica Comets, but returned to Sweden for the 2017-18 season where he had four points in 18 games with Djurgardens IF.
Beck made a few NHL appearances, but played just two games for the Islanders in 2015-16. He also played a total of five games in 2016-17 with Edmonton and the Rangers, but has played the majority of that time in the minors as well.
Finally, Gibson might be the sole asset the Islanders are able to enjoy out of this trade. Since the deal, he’s played 12 games for the Islanders with a record of 3-4-3, a 3.58 goals against average and .902 save percentage. He played eight games for the Islanders last season while playing the majority of the year with the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Leafs Looking to Move Up in 2008
Back on June 20, 2008, the Maple Leafs and Islanders engaged in another deal that altered the draft order at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. The Maple Leafs sent the Islanders their first-round pick and third-round pick in 2008 as well as their second-round pick in 2009 in exchange for the fifth overall pick in 2008.
The Islanders traded the Leafs first-round pick, which ended up being the seventh overall selection, to Nashville for the ninth overall pick and 40th overall pick in 2008. They used those draft picks to take Josh Bailey (ninth overall) and Aaron Ness (40th overall), while the Preds grabbed Colin Wilson with the seventh overall selection.
Bailey has recorded 377 points in 715 regular season games with the Islanders since 2008-09 and 11 points in 22 postseason games. He’s also coming off a career-year with 18 goals and 71 points in 76 games for New York.
Ness has played a total of 47 games at the NHL level with the Islanders and Capitals with six points to show for it. He spent the majority of the 2017-18 season with the AHL’s Hershey Bears.
The Islanders also traded the 68th overall pick they acquired from the Leafs and turned it into another two picks later in the draft where they took Jyri Niemi (72nd overall) and David Ullstrom (102nd overall).
As for the 2009 pick, the Isles also traded that pick away and it eventually landed in the hands of the Anaheim Ducks who used it to take Mat Clark 37th overall.
The fifth overall pick in 2008, however, that the Maple Leafs acquired was used to take defenceman Luke Schenn. Schenn played 310 games for the Leafs over four seasons and collected 75 points in the blue and white.
While he never saw the postseason with the Maple Leafs, the team eventually traded him to Philadelphia landing power forward James van Riemsdyk in the process.
Who For Who?
Before the trade that landed them Schenn, you have to go back to Aug. 17, 1999 for the next most recent deal between the Maple Leafs and the Islanders. In it, the Leafs acquired Craig Charron in exchange for Niklas Andersson. Who? My thoughts exactly.
Charron was a lifetime minor-leaguer who jumped from the ECHL to the IHL and onto the AHL. He last played for the Rochester Americans in 2001-02 tallying 24 points in 43 games. However, he never did make it to the show.
While not commonly known, Andersson did spend some time in the NHL with a handful of teams. He never cracked the Maple Leafs lineup, but did get into 17 games for the Islanders in 1999-2000 where he tallied 10 points before he was shipped out again to the Nashville Predators. He finished his career with 82 points in 164 regular season games.
A Former First for the Cat
The two teams also made another big move on Jan. 9, 1999. The Maple Leafs acquired the first overall pick from the 1995 draft – Bryan Berard – as well as a sixth-round pick in 1999 in exchange for goaltender Felix Potvin and a sixth-round pick of their own in 1999.
Potvin had a rough go in Long Island – playing just 33 games during the regular season for the Islanders with a 7-21-4 record to go along with a 3.35 GAA and .893 SV%. As for the pick, the Islanders traded it away and it eventually landed with the Tampa Bay Lightning who took Fedor Fedorov 182nd overall in 1999.
Berard had his own issues after joining the Maple Leafs – which included taking a Marian Hossa stick to the eye that could’ve ended the defenceman’s career. Prior to the injury, however, Berard had tallied 49 points in 102 regular season games with the Leafs while averaging just under 21 minutes of ice time. He returned to the NHL in 2001-02 with the Rangers.
The Maple Leafs also used the pick – 161st overall – to draft Jan Sochor in 1999. Sochor played a few seasons in the ECHL, but returned overseas without ever playing a game in the NHL.
Now, with those in mind, did either team come out on the winning end of these trades? Be sure to have your say by leaving your thoughts in the comments below and tune in next time when we take a look at the five most recent trades between the Maple Leafs and the Rangers.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.