Islanders beat reporter Arthur Staple took questions from Twitter followers this week with the NHL trade deadline closing in.
Here are 10 answers for this week:
@PJRadloff: Buy or sell at the deadline for the #isles ? Top Targets in your opinion?
Even with just three weeks until the deadline, it’s hard to know where the Islanders are headed. I think seller is pretty much out, because who are they selling? They wouldn’t get good value back for Ryan Strome, I don’t see teams beating down the door for Dennis Seidenberg, the only real rental on the roster and Jaroslav Halak would be on the block regardless of the record.
The one thing playing in the Isles’ favor as a buyer is their surplus of defensemen. If Garth Snow and Doug Weight see more progress from Adam Pelech and are convinced that Ryan Pulock can be a regular down the stretch, then perhaps Calvin de Haan could become expendable in some sort of deadline package.
I still feel Matt Duchene is at the top of the Isles’ list. The fact he has two more years on his deal means this wouldn’t be a go-for-it rental, but the cost will be steep. Thomas Vanek’s name has been bandied about as a rental, but I doubt the Isles go back down that road.
If there’s a deal to be made, it’s to shore up the middle six behind John Tavares’ line, which has been absurdly dominant the last month. I don’t think Snow feels a need to add someone to ride shotgun with Tavares, more like someone to anchor the scoring on the second/third lines.
@Doc__Ad: if you put odds on an #isles coach for next season what would it be for Claude, Hitchcock, Weight, Gallant, other?
I’m no oddsmaker, but let’s just say Claude Julien will have his pick of jobs in the spring. I’m sure he could jump at an offer before then, but with the Isles and Panthers still in the playoff hunt, I can’t see either team shaking things up so soon. Nor would Julien or Ken Hitchcock likely run for a job when they could wait and see the full picture of what’s out there.
Weight is putting himself in an interesting spot. He’s not saying that he’s eager to be a full-time head coach, but he clearly has a knack for the communication part and if this roster is going to stay pretty much the same next year, he could move to the front of the line with a strong finish. And if he were to bring in one of his many good friends in the hockey world to be an associate coach with him — Luke Richardson, say, or Rod Brind’Amour — the Isles could end up with a couple good, young hockey minds behind the bench.
Still a lot to be decided here.
@Rant_or_Reason: This win streak is fine & dandy but what’s the word on a new VP/President/Director of Hockey Operations?
I think Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin are keeping their listening tour a little quieter these days, what with all that ownership-level stuff happening with arenas and county governments and such. They’ve also talked to quite a few people so I would think they have a sense of who they’d like to bring in when the time is right.
That time, it appears, is not now. Snow has the owners’ full faith to do what he needs to do to run the team (see the Thomas Greiss extension for that) so I imagine the GM/president will keep both roles for now and at season’s end we will see what the owners decide.
@jonnywax: Halak playing well in AHL. Where do you see that going? Also, #11 looking good. Any chance #15 becomes 13th man?
Halak has been hot in the AHL, with a .924 save percentage over seven straight wins. Good for him. He needed the confidence boost and to step away from what had become a toxic environment with the Isles, much of it his own making.
He certainly could come back up and play a backup role to Greiss, but there’s likely a bit of concern as to whether that situation would work. J-F Berube struggled on Saturday, and he’ll probably get the call Sunday against the Avalanche. If he’s not sharp again, perhaps there’s a move to be made.
And no on Cal Clutterbuck being a healthy scratch. The guy wears an ‘A,’ so I doubt he’s the odd man out. Shane Prince has been good, so I don’t think he’s automatic to come out next week if Clutterbuck returns. Beauvillier has hit a little wall of late, so it could be him.
@B_Darzzz: Strome and Ladd playing better lately it seems. Weight doing anything differently to get them going?
Doesn’t seem so, other than perhaps some conversations that have inspired those two a bit more than previously.
Ladd’s back injury does date back a while before he was shut down for 10 days, so he seems to be playing without any hesitation. And Strome, who was a frequent Jack Capuano target, still has made a couple thoughtless errors — his icing to set up the Wings’ game-winner last Friday stands out — but has gotten support from Weight and otherwise has been playing well.
@EFlax26: Do you think the Isles will pay more than 10.5m/year for JT or do you think he will give them a discount?
There’s no discounts, nor should there be. If Tavares is rightly concerned about the direction of the Isles — on the ice and where the heck they’ll play — then he’s got no need to leave money on the table. If there’s an extension coming July 1 or 2, it’s going to be eight years and around $85 million, plain and simple.
Tavares certainly will have to see what’s to come in the next few months, but I would take him at his word from All-Star weekend. He’s going to watch what Malkin and Ledecky do once the season ends and listen to what they and Snow offer him. As I said before in this space, if he’s not willing to even respond to an offer in July, that should be the full answer: It means he has no plans to sign after next season.
I’ve mentioned a few factors to keep in mind, among them Tavares’ NHLPA ties. His ties to Snow are strong as well. If Ledecky and Malkin decide to replace the GM in April, that’s a factor, likely not one in the Isles’ favor. Something to consider.
@MarkyyyMarkkkk: do you think the org sees Hamonic as expendable due to how the team has been playing in his absence?
It’s possible, though three straight seasons of knee injuries may have an impact on his trade value. I haven’t heard anything from inside the Isles organization on whether they would consider moving him now, but I have to believe it’s not a 100 percent “no” anymore.
That’s the risk for a player like Hamonic, who has a great value contract and no clauses to limit where he can go. Last season was difficult for him, his family and the Islanders, who didn’t want to trade him, and he ultimately didn’t want or need to move. This season is different, of course, and the Islanders are in a different situation.
I can’t see Snow moving Hamonic before the deadline. Perhaps the offseason brings a different story.
@adicandilo: What do u think the long term arena solution will be ? So sick of dealing with this for the last 20 YEARS!!
I can only imagine what the longtime fans are thinking now. I see on Twitter and in person how much this stuff has taken a toll — the sub-12,000 attendance for the last few weekday games, against teams that normally bring in plenty of visiting fans (Leafs, Caps, Canadiens), tells me everyone is worn out.
That said, I don’t know where this goes. The owners are dead set against a return to the Coliseum without significant revenue promises that the county can’t make. If they stay in Brooklyn, Barclays will want rollbacks on the money they give to the Isles and the team will want upgrades to facilities and preference for scheduling.
Citi Field or Belmont Park would be huge, but costly and time-consuming. There are no easy solutions. There are no even moderately difficult solutions. Just a lot of questions that may not be answered any time soon.
@christhedietguy: with two more goals tonight, is Ryan Pulock going to force the Isles to call him up sometime this season?
This mailbag’s most popular topic! Pulock has been his usual self of late, now with nine goals in 24 games. Of course he would help the Islanders power play. But is he steady enough in his own end to supplant Pelech? Obviously the coaching staffs of the Isles and Sound Tigers don’t think so yet.
As for Scott Mayfield, he’s filling a role I thought in training camp he’d fill: Seventh defenseman. Pulock is not that. So that’s not a swap the Islanders would make, since they want Pulock to play every night and Mayfield, who passed through waivers in camp and would need to do so again to be sent down now, is viewed as more expendable.
@McBertos: After a good streak #Isles back in playoff race, from your point who is gonna be the toughest opponent and why?
As far as the rest of the regular season, the Flyers and Hurricanes have given the Isles fits. The Isles have five games left against both of them, plus all four against the Devils. That’s a big chunk of the schedule remaining against teams close by in the standings.
If the Islanders continue their push and make the playoffs, it seems inevitable that they’d match up with the Caps. Washington has 11 regulation losses this season — three of those to the Islanders. Wouldn’t that be a fun series?
@HavAnotherDonut: can we ever have some sort of normalcy with the #Isles?
No. No you cannot. Sorry. Those are the rules.