What Expansion Means for the Islanders

Garth Snow, the general manager of the New York Islanders, could have a big decision in the near future regarding which players he should protect in the expansion. While the NHL expansion draft is a year away, this could affect the Islanders’ moves this summer and have a big impact on the franchise.

Expansion Protection List

Currently, the Islanders need go the route of protecting eight skaters and one goalie for next year’s expansion draft because they have to protect four defensemen. They are Johnny Boychuk (has no movement clause), Travis Hamonic, Nick Leddy and Ryan Pulock. The other option New York has in the expansion is protecting seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie. However, if the Islanders chose that path they would most certainly lose one of their stud blueliners.

That leaves four spots for forwards. Obviously, captain John Tavares will be protected, as well as newly-acquired Andrew Ladd. Ladd’s new contract gives him a no movement clause at the beginning of his new seven-year deal.

That would leave just two open spots for the Islanders. New York has a talented young trio in Brock Nelson, Anders Lee and Ryan Strome up front. Keep in mind Casey Cizikas  just signed a five-year deal with the Isles as well. If the expansion draft were to happen today, Garth Snow would only be able to protect two of these four forwards.

Trade for a Top Six Forward

By many accounts, Garth Snow is in the market for a proven top-six forward. The fact that the Islanders could see one of their young talented forwards walk out the door and get nothing in return is not a desirable situation. This will give the Islanders front office additional motivation to make a significant trade this summer.

If the right dance partner is out there it’s easy to see two of Nelson, Strome and Lee as part of a trade to land a proven scoring forward. Keep in mind that if Snow was able to pull off such a deal, that player would have to be protected as well. That would leave the Isles with only one open spot for the expansion draft.

Ryan Pulock

Since Ryan Pulock complicates things in regards to expansion, does that open the door for Snow to trade him for a scoring forward? If Pulock is moved the Islanders no longer have to protect four defensemen. This would give them greater flexibility in protecting their young forwards.

A package of Pulock and one of Nelson, Strome or Lee could net the Islanders the proven top six goal scorer they need. But do the Islanders want to move Pulock? Pulock looks like a foundation player to build around.

Other Exposed Players

Other players who in all likelihood will be exposed are Calvin de Haan and Scott Mayfield. Having all of these good young players exposed for expansion could make them available this summer in the right deal.

The good news for the Islanders is they can only lose one player in next year’s expansion draft. Having said that, it appears New York will lose a very good player one way or the other.