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Isles mailbag: Call-ups, trade talks, concerns

Michael Dal Colle  of the New York Islanders

Michael Dal Colle  of the New York Islanders skates during the practice at Northwell Health Ice Center on Sept. 16, 2017. Photo Credit: Anna Sergeeva

Newsday’s Islanders beat writer Arthur Staple answers questions from his Twitter followers in the latest Isles mailbag:

@Jschul630 Does the poor play of beau and chimera warrant a JHS call up in the near future?

@Greg_Orto With Quine now ready to play and Kulemin on IR, Can you see a situation where Ho-Sang is called up and Beauvillier sent down to bridgeport? Or will Chimera be the Healthy Scratch?

If the Islanders forwards were fully healthy, this could have been an interesting scenario with Alan Quine back in the fold and likely back in the lineup on Friday. He was already on the 23-man roster so it simply would have been a decision for Doug Weight on who sat, with the likeliest candidates being Nikolay Kulemin, Jason Chimera and Anthony Beauvillier.

Kulemin’s injury — the Islanders have said nothing but I believe we’re looking at weeks or months, not days — means Quine can slide in and no one else comes out. Chimera has struggled at times to start the season, as he did last season (he ended with 20 goals). I’m sure that’s what Weight and his coaching staff are hoping for as they take a patient approach with a proven veteran who provides a spark in the locker room.

Beauvillier is another story. Other than a couple of notable games two weeks ago, he seems a little lost since his three-game benching last month. He admitted it bugged him because he felt he’d done nothing to warrant a healthy scratch, and Weight is feeling bugged because he can’t find Beauvillier a consistent role.

But with Kulemin on IR, the Islanders can call up Josh Ho-Sang and keep Beauvillier here. Then we’ll find out who’s the odd man out up front.

@sfarieri Realistically, if it were trade deadline, what area do you think #isles need an upgrade in?

@JosephGrassia now that Duchene is off the table, any foreseeable acquisitions this team might make?

As you look at the Isles right now, Weight’s biggest concern is figuring out which two defensemen to sit each game and deciding on the right time to bring back Ho-Sang. That doesn’t scream trade to me.

So if you’d have to guess, goaltender might be an area of concern. Thomas Greiss has had a couple of good starts the last two games and Jaroslav Halak had a nice run of three straight before last week in Washington. That’s OK, but I would imagine Weight wants someone to take the reins in goal. If that doesn’t happen and he feels the skaters are playing well (which he does), then goaltender could be a low-cost area to upgrade.

Couldn’t guess at who might be available aside from some obvious, flawed candidates (Kari Lehtonen, maybe Jimmy Howard, Curtis McElhinney), but it doesn’t seem like there’s a significant upgrade available right now.

@cward21187 Of all the pending #isles UFA, who do you see being resigned & do you see any of them happening during the season?

@swedishislander With prospects like Toews and Aho making an impact in Bridgeport, do you see guys like Hickey and DeHaan perhaps being moved at trade deadline?

@barbitosfritos Who comes up first, Devon Toews (#BestToews) or Sebastian Aho (#RealAho)?

I think everything waits for John Tavares at this point, unless it’s a restricted free agent like Ryan Pulock and there’s a deal that makes both sides happy. All the rest are contingent on whatever giant contract Tavares gets or whether it goes deep into the offseason.

Devon Toews and Sebastian Aho have been good in Bridgeport and certainly that’s a nice feeling for Garth Snow that two low picks are looking like possible NHLers, but there’s no need to rush. Aho has played in North America for all of two months, so I can’t see him getting a call over Toews just yet.

And trading contributing players to a team’s success in the middle of the season isn’t really Snow’s style. De Haan is showing that he’s going to hit the jackpot in free agency and the Islanders likely won’t be able to afford him. That’s life in the NHL. Unless Snow and Weight feel Toews or Adam Pelech can handle the heavy minutes de Haan gets, I doubt there’s a deal that would make sense to move him as a rental.

@rightontime31 Any concern that Ladd is down to third line in year 2? This guy paid to play first line minutes... ?

He did OK as a third-liner last year, after that slow start of course… If the Islanders knew what they know now about who best fits with Tavares, would they have foregone signing Ladd? Or trading for Jordan Eberle? Not so sure about that.

Pointing to contracts is a tricky business. There’s no salary floor for first-line players and no cap for fourth-liners; you can certainly take issue with contracts handed out and seven years at $5.5 million per may very well have been better spent elsewhere in hindsight.

But on the whole, if you can populate your lineup with a decent mix of veterans (who are usually overpaid, especially the ones picked up in free agency) and young guys (who are underpaid) and all of them provide a little scoring punch, that’s a good thing.

So a 20-plus goal scorer who is consistently better in the second half of the season is someone I’d want on my team, third line or elsewhere. The contract stuff once he’s already signed is a moot point.

@sab31nyi After his recent scratch, what are the main concerns about Dal Colle? Is he destined to be a first round bust in your opinion?

No one’s a bust until they’re out of the organization or have failed at the NHL level, I think. Dal Colle is still just 21, he’s a big guy whose skating is his main issue so there’s room to improve that.

It’s not great that the Isles’ two top picks from a year after Dal Colle was drafted have leapfrogged him on the depth chart. It’s also not great that he needs to be scratched in an AHL game, though Brent Thompson uses his healthy scratches pretty frequently for the younger prospects. Dal Colle should be putting up points and pushing for a promotion by now, no question.

He reminds me a bit of Pulock – a talented player who has seemed too hesitant at times. Pulock is playing much freer this season with some confidence gained by pushing his way into the lineup. Perhaps it will be the same for Dal Colle next year, but I don’t think you write him off already.

@kpmats10 wondering if the 8 Dman rotation could become an issue like the 3 goalie situation was last year. I think Hickey has played like the odd man out for a while. Maybe move him for assets before deadline?

It’s hard to get rid of veteran defensemen when your bottom five – granting that Nick Leddy, Johnny Boychuk and de Haan all play every game – has three younger players in it. Some veterans can make the transition from occasional scratch to the lineup much easier than younger players (see the Beauvillier question from earlier). That’s a skill and if Hickey has it, why send him out for a third-round pick when you might need him at a moment’s notice?

The same is true for Dennis Seidenberg. With only young guys waiting in the AHL, it’d be hard to justify dumping off a veteran for a small return just to say you could make a deal.

@ec_cabral If Isles aren’t awarded the winning bid for the Belmont Park land, would they consider relocating?

I’m sure they would. I wonder what Gary Bettman would say about that, but given how lousy the Barclays Center partnership has been and how unsuitable the Coliseum is in its current state, moving might be on the table if Belmont falls through.

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