Archive for the ‘offseason’ Category

Tavares watch: Islanders could rebuild in a hurry (1 of 2)

January 8, 2009
Not very long ago, I uttered something like this to a buddy of mine: “Man, I hope Tavares doesn’t end up in a hellhole like Long Island.”

However, while researching my Mike Milbury = Matt Millen post, it was hard to ignore Garth Snow’s NHL draft wizardy. Doing the math is a little tricky so here’s a visual aid from Isles info.com’s Islanders’ GM history:

06/20/08: NYI trade 2008 Entry Draft first round pick(fifth overall – D Luke Schenn) to TOR for first round pick in 2008 (seventh overall), TOR’s 3rd round pick in 2008 (68th overall) and TOR’s 2nd round pick in 2009.

06/20/08: NYI trade TOR’s 1st round pick in the 2008 Entry Draft (seventh overall – C Colin Wilson, previously acquired) to NSH for FLA’s 1st round pick in 2008 (ninth overall – C Josh Bailey, previously acquired) and FLA’s 2nd round pick in 2008 (40th overall – D Aaron Ness, previously acquired).

06/21/08: NYI acquire CHI’s third round pick (72nd overall – D Jyri Niemi)and fourth round pick (102nd overall – W David Ullstrom) in 2008 for TOR’s
third round pick in 2008 (68th overall – D Shawn Lalonde, previously acquired).

Impressive. Snow basically moved the Islanders first round pick for Florida’s first and second round picks, Chicago’s third and fourth round picks in 2008 plus Toronto’s 2009 2nd-rounder. As good as Luke Schenn and Colin Wilson could end up, that’s a hell of a leap in the rebuilding process.

Tavares + big name free agent could really accelerate the Islanders rebuilding process (and Tavares + huge cap space could help the Islanders land that big free agent).

So that alone gives the Islanders a light at the end of the tunnel, but now let’s get hypothetical:

Semi-plausible moves that could reignite the Islanders

Step 1: Winning the Tavares lottery

Obviously this is the portion that’s dedicated exclusively to random chance. The Isles are the worst team in the NHL right now and will likely finish with the most lottery balls at the end of the season, but that in no way guarantees that they’ll get the #1 pick.

Getting the second pick wouldn’t be horrible since the only spot locked up long term is #1 goalie thanks to Rick Dipietro‘s life sentence long-term deal. But as tall and talented as that Swede might be, the Islanders need a shot in the arm only Tavares can provide. Badly.

What better way to help the Islanders sell the idea of a new arena than to add the most hyped Canadian since Sidney Crosby?

(Quick aside for those hockey’s futures nuts out there: what is a reasonable estimate for a healthy first season for Tavares? Could his production be Crosby-like, Patrick Kane-like or more like Joe Thornton‘s rough rookie year?)

Step 2: Trade for Kovalchuk or throw the bank at Marian Hossa

Personally, I think Kovalchuk would be a better bet because his talents are “sexier.” Hossa’s a fantastic player, but you get the feeling that Kovalchuk would dazzle New Yorkers deeply. A rare victory for sizzle over steak.

If Atlanta decides to deal Kovalchuk, the Islanders have picks and prospects to spare

With Doug Weight ($4.5 mil), Bill Guerin ($4.3 mil), Mike Comrie ($4 mil) and Mike Sillinger ($2.2 mil) coming off the books this summer, the Islanders could transform their roster from washed-up, overpaid veterans to whatever image the “new” Islanders would seek.

($17 million from four players for non-math majors)

If NHLSCAP figures are correct, their overall cap would be right under $31 million with 8 forwards, 7 defensemen and 1 goaltender under contract (not counting minor leaguers … although you can argue many of their starters belong in the AHL).

In that dream scenario, Tavares would probably have a Stamkos-like cap hit. Let’s say $4 million to be safe. Let’s also assume that the cap goes down to , say, $55 million when factoring in the deadbeat economy.

The Islanders could throw a “horse head in the bed” offer at Marian Hossa or easily absorb the last year of Kovalchuk’s contract. Hell, if you really want to dream big imagine the Islanders somehow landing Kovalchuk – Hossa – Tavares or Kovalchuk – Gaborik – Tavares or something of that nature. Crazier things have happened.

[Note: decided to break this gigantic post up into two parts.]
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Hypothetical hope for the Islanders part II

January 8, 2009
The Sedins bringing their cycling circus act to Coney Island? Could be worse …

Even if the Islanders lose the Tavares lottery, their $20 million-plus cap space and their rapidly improving stable of prospects puts them in a great position to rebuild. How about we rank some of the guys who would best fit the Islanders?

1. Kovalchuk – This is only based on heavy trade rumors. Honestly, the Thrashers shouldn’t trade him (the reason, beyond his bodacious skills, will be revealed sooen enough).

2. Hossa – The common thread of wisdom for Hossa is that he’s the hockey version of a smoking hot bridesmaid. Even if he’s not the type of player who can carry a team on his back, Hossa is the most talented free agent and may go into Show Me the Money mode after taking a one-year Cup run contract.

3/4. The Sedin twins – Why break up the Sedin twins when they are so effective together? The Islanders might be a really nice destination for the efficient dopplegangers. Even if they sign matching $6 million contracts the Islanders could still improve the team around them.

5. Jay Bouwmeester – He’s not flashy (except in video games) but he’s the kind of player who can be a cornerstone. With the big minutes he plays and well rounded game he brings the table, he could be a nice fit for the Islanders.

But they’d probably need to add an offensive stud because Bouwmeester isn’t really a ticket seller.

6. Johan Franzen – The Mule is here and Henrik Zetterberg is not for a simple reason. It’s almost unthinkable that Detroit would allow Zetterberg to walk. Not when they very well might lose Hossa. Not when Franzen, despite his undeniable goal scoring skills, cannot stay on the ice.

Franzen could be a good fit in Long Island if he could stay relatively healthy. Hell, a Franzen + Sedins line would be a hell of a consolation prize if bigger things fall through.

Keep dreaming.

7. Marian Gaborik – Honestly, it feels like the team who signs Gaborik is like a newlywed couple who unwittingly adopts that creepy little girl from “The Ring.” But let’s face it, the Islanders are one of those teams that might need to pay up big just for the PR boost.

Even though it’s a thrill to watch Gabby on a breakaway, his signing would be a Shakespearian tragedy for a team that’s had plenty of helpings of bad luck.

8. Alex Kovalev – There’s a buyer beware to Kovalev. Either his drive does not match his blinding talent or his talent is better suited for stunning Youtube videos. Whatever way you slice it, Kovalev’s not the guy you want with that Ayn Rand-ian weight of the world on his shoulders.

Still, if the Islanders try a quantity over quality approach Kovalev could be an asset.

9. Brian Gionta – It’s hard to say if a guy like Gionta would flounder outside of NJ or if he would flourish without the spoused shackles of the NJ system. Judging from the lackluster post-NJ careers of guys like Scott Gomez, expectations should be “less than or equal to.” Then again, adding Gionta certainly would add a little spice to the Devils – Islanders rivalry (whatever you may think of that rivalry).

10. Erik Cole – Call me an Erik Cole apologist, but I’ve been a fan since the Hurricanes Cup year. Then again, he’s clearly never been the same after that dirty Brooks Orpik hit that almost ended his career. Would he take a pay cut or just stay at $4 million? At a lower price Cole could be quite the pickup but at $4 million you better take him to a damn thorough doctor.

***

Tavares-less suggestion: Go hard for Hossa or Kovalchuk or even Zetterberg. If that doesn’t work, settle for the Sedins and a low risk, high reward guy like un-listed, under the radar Michael Cammalleri.