The NHL trade deadline is still three weeks away and trade rumors have already begun to swirl. The Islanders were once expected to be buyers, but now that no longer seems to be the case. With their chances of making the postseason being highly unlikely, the team now is shifting towards being a deadline seller. A number of veterans are expected to be moved as the Islanders seek to retool for next season. Here are some of the trade rumors involving the Islanders as the trade deadline approaches.
Josh Bailey and Minnesota
According to The Fourth Period, the Minnesota Wild have talked to the Islanders about Josh Bailey. Bailey has 22 points in 40 games and only has three goals on the year. He also has two years left on his contact with a $5 million cap hit. As of this writing, the Wild are the only specific team reported to have interest in Bailey. This deal could work out nicely for both sides if the Wild maintain their interest in Bailey. The Wild could use Bailey to solidify their middle six and add a player with playoff experience.
For the Islanders, getting rid of Bailey’s contract helps them free up some needed cap room. In addition, it’ll help give two of the team’s younger right wingers in Kieffer Bellows and Oliver Wahlstrom more consistent ice time this season and possibly beyond. The return probably wouldn’t be huge for the Islanders with Bailey’s subpar numbers, likely a mid round draft pick and or a prospect. There would also have to be some cap maneuvering as the Wild aren’t currently fit to take on Bailey’s cap hit.
Of the multiple veterans expected to be available from the Islanders, Clutterbuck may generate the most interest. The long time Islanders right winger has been integral to what has made their fourth line so dominant. He plays a very physical game as shown by his 194 hits this season, which ranks second in the NHL. A team that trades for him will be getting a very gritty and reliable fourth line grinder who also has experience on the penalty kill.
As for who’s interested, the Colorado Avalanche seem to be the leading contenders. Joe Sakic attended a recent game against the Canadiens to reportedly scout the teams with a focus on Clutterbuck. Several other teams will likely join the bidding as the trade market materializes later into March. For the Islanders, they’re just seeking some type of return for a valuable veteran about to hit UFA. The most they’ll get for Clutterbuck is a mid round pick based on the value generated by similar players traded at the deadline.
Pierre LeBrun of TSN reported that there are teams interested in Chara at deadline. This one is a little surprising, but for a good reason for the Islanders. Chara’s stint with the team this year has been iffy, and that’s probably putting it nicely. But there is still some value for the defenseman, who now holds the record for most games played at that position. He has championship history and an aggressive style of play where he’ll be more than happy to drop the gloves with any opposition willing to challenge him. LeBrun didn’t mention which teams these were, but the Islanders should be sure to keep up with them if Chara accepts a potential trade. Regardless of what the offer is, the Islanders should be happy to receive any kind of compensation for a 44 year old player on a one year deal.
The 33 year old goaltender is in the middle of a very solid season for the Islanders with a 2.57 GAA and .916 save percentage. With the Islanders status as a seller and Ilya Sorokin ready to take the reins as the starter, Varlamov could be on the way out. One of the obvious contenders is the Edmonton Oilers, who have had significant problems behind the crease.
The Fourth Period also reported that the Vegas Golden Knights had a level of interest in Varlamov. Regardless of who’s interested, the Islanders should seek a valuable return with Varlamov. He’s a quality player that they don’t necessarily have to trade with two years left on his contract. They shouldn’t overask, but the return would hopefully be better than the mid round draft compensation they’ll likely be receiving for the other veterans being moved.
Before starting this section, it’s important to distinguish that there are no established rumors that this may even be a possibility. But the team has had past interest in Forsberg and may target him in the offseason. That combined with the news of the Predators actively shopping Forsberg have made some begin to speculate about a trade possibility. The idea is risky unless the team is able to get Forsberg to sign an immediate extension, much like they did when they acquired J.G. Pageau two years ago.
Even then, the question remains of whether it’s worth it to trade valuable assets for a player you could land as a free agent. It’s an interesting question to ponder, but this scenario feels highly unlikely. The field of playoff contenders are more likely to pay top dollar for Forsberg in a trade over a non-contender like the Islanders. The Islanders are best off waiting for the offseason to try and acquire Forsberg.
Featured image courtesy of NHL
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