After the gut-punch of the loss of John Tavares on Sunday, anyone could understand the desire to rebound. Who among us hasn't been dumped, only to dream of bouncing back with someone just as dazzling?
Otherwise, count me in the minority when it comes to clamoring for the Islanders to make a trade for Erik Karlsson. The Islanders will inquire, and would be right to investigate, but it is not the right move at this time for the club. The reasons...
Even if the Islanders agree to take on the annual $7.25 million cap hit of the inconsistent Bobby Ryan for the next four seasons, you'd have to believe the price for the Islanders starts with their first pick in 2019. Ottawa would insist on it being unprotected, and the Islanders would be no lock - yes, even with Karlsson - of being a very good team. Karlsson's brilliance certainly wasn't enough to guarantee that for the Senators, who failed to qualify for the playoffs three of the last five seasons.
From there, the Senators - although, to be fair, you never know about the NHL's most troubled franchise - could insist on receiving one of the Islanders' highly-praised picks from the 2018 draft: Oliver Wahlstrom or Noah Dobson. In the mess Ottawa is in, it's doubtful they view Joshua Ho-Sang as a must-have piece. Kieffer Bellows? I'm told most scouts like his scoring touch, but don't view him as a blue-chipper.
If you didn't like the price St. Louis paid for Ryan O'Reilly, a ransom that Lou Lamoriello rightfully declined to meet despite the need for another strong center, chances are you'll get sticker-shock on the cost for Karlsson. Ottawa will get teams in a bidding war for Karlsson. Some borderline contenders believe he's the final piece for a legitimate run at a Stanley Cup. The Senators need to make a statement with this trade. They view it as their launchpad to a major rebuilding program. They will try to get the assets the Islanders didn't get for Tavares.
Lamoriello's eyes are on the Stanley Cup. His job is not to plug the hole in the Country's heart after the departure of Tavares. He does not have a mission of making the team fun to watch as it fights for a playoff berth the next two years.
If the Islanders add Karlsson to the current squad, and even if they acquire a solid goaltender while the defense improves under Barry Trotz - let's face it, it will improve because there's no way it could be worse - are the Islanders are a Cup contender any time soon? No, they're not. They're a playoff team, probably.
Karlsson has a year left on his contract, but the Senators are shopping him now and will give some prospective trade partners the opportunity to discuss a long-term extension with him. So, in reality, Karlsson is an unrestricted free agent now. He and his agent will have a lot of say in what team he is traded to. Karlsson can pick where he'd like to play this season and the following eight.
While the hysteria over #KarlssonWatch inevitably gets out of hand across several markets this month, it should be noted that as an all-zone player, he is not Denis Potvin, Niklas Lidstrom or Scott Niedermayer. However, this is a No. 1 defenseman in the prime of his career, a two-time Norris Trophy winner, a future Hall of Famer who is exhilarating to watch. He displayed remarkable guts by playing through significant injuries as the Sens reached the Eastern Conference Final in 2017.
He would make any team better, if the price was right.
And with that, we go back to reality. The Islanders play in two arenas and have yet to place a shovel in the ground for their future permanent home. Despite the promise that Lamoriello and Trotz bring in the front office and behind the bench, no one would rank the current edition of the Islanders among the top 12 teams currently in the NHL. Most would not have them in the top 20 or 25.
Would the New York Islanders be anywhere near the top of Karlsson's genuine wish list of destinations at this time?
Lamoriello should make the phone call and inquire about the trade price for Karlsson. He wouldn't be doing his job if he didn't at least inquire. If Lamoriello makes the bold move for a reasonable price, and gets Karlsson's name on a long-term contract, it would be cause for celebration.
But that sounds like a lot of hopeful thinking. While the Islanders are in dire need of defense and goaltending, the last thing they need is a desperate, costly move, or more hopes dashed.