Isles Files

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You make the call on Colorado trade

The reaction to my Newsday article suggesting three scenarios for what the Islanders might do with the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft has been interesting to say the least. Scenario No. 3 about possible trades received the most attention.

Chris Botta of Islanderspointblank.com said I went "off the rails" in suggesting the Islanders could go down to No. 3 if they want Matt Duchene more than John Tavares or Victor Hedman and that they could start by asking for defenseman John-Michael Liles. Many fans echoed that theme and called my hockey knowledge/sanity into question.

So, let's discuss. First, I think Chris and many others missed the basic principle behind that particular scenario, which is this: General manager Garth Snow and assistant GM Ryan Jankowski are convinced Duchene is the top prospect available, but they also are confident they can go down to No. 3 to get him. If they're wrong, the worst that happens is they wind up with either Hedman or Tavares plus whatever they get in return from Colorado.

Look at what Snow did last year at No. 5. They knew center Steve Stamkos was going No. 1 to Tampa Bay, and they hoped that one of the next three defensemen, Drew Doughty, Zach Bogosian and Alex Pietrangelo would fall to them. After those four, they identified Josh Bailey as the player they liked best, but they were confident they could trade down to get him. They made two trades, multiplied assets and took Bailey at No. 9. Regardless of whether you agreed with their preference for Bailey over Luke Schenn or Nikita Filatov, they got their man.

If they feel Duchene is their guy this year, they could just sit tight at No. 1 and take him despite the fan fallout that would be sure to follow. But if they believe they can get him at No. 3, why not see what Colorado will offer to get up to No. 1? Then, it's a matter of determining compensation.

I chose Liles as the starting point based on the fact that he's still only 28, and you could team him with Mark Streit at the points on the power play the way Detroit put Brian Rafalski with Nicklas Lidstrom this season. You also would have a solid offensive defenseman on each of your top two pairings. Maybe Colorado would have to throw in, say, its third-round pick or something of that nature. Some might call that cheap for the right to pick No. 1, but if you want Duchene and are confident of getting him at No. 3, you've added something.

If you want to substitute someone else from Colorado's roster, go ahead. I figure they won't part with 23-year-old Paul Stastny for the same reason the Isles wouldn't trade Kyle Okposo, an important part of their future core. But you could insert a forward, either Wojtek Wolski or Marek Svatos, for Liles if you like.

The big question for Islanders fans is whether additional compensation would make the selection of Duchene over Tavares and Hedman palatable. You tell me. Is there a trade down to No. 3 to take Duchene that you find acceptable?

As for the other trade scenario I proposed in which Colorado gets Vincent Lecavalier and the Isles wind up with the second and third choices, the reason Tampa Bay might consider that move is based on the financial condition of the franchise and the fact that Lecavalier is only one year into an 11-year contract worth $85 million. Obviously, the Lightning would have to get considerable compensation beyond the No. 1 pick in terms of extra draft picks and players. The point of them involving the Islanders in the deal is to make sure they can take Tavares at No. 1 to replace Lecavalier's scoring.

Here's the catch: if they are convinced the Islanders don't want Tavares, then, they could wind up with the second and third picks in a deal with Colorado. But they better be right or they better believe in Duchene.

Before there can be much trade talk among the top three teams, Colorado still must replace fired GM Francois Giguere. Who knows if the Avalanche would take on such a long-term obligation to Lecavalier? We've got a little less than six weeks in which to find out. Until the June 26 NHL draft, just imagine the possibilities.

Tags: john tavares , victor hedman , matt duchene , garth snow , ryan jankowski , chris botta , john-michael liles , marek svatos , wojtek wolski , steve stamkos , drew doughty , zach bogosian , alex pietrangelo , luke schenn , nikita filatov , josh bailey , mark streit , nicklas lidstrom , brian rafalski , kyle okposo , vincent lecavalier , francois giguere , paul stastny

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