Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
The offseason is always ripe with plenty of speculation and tension. Long suffering fanbases put their trust in management to identify the steps needed to be taken to get their teams to the next level.
For the New York Islanders, this spring and summer looks to be even more vital, as in addition to looking at roster improvements, the cloud of a future home and contract status of their captain and most important player hangs over the head of the organization. What they do on all fronts will no doubt alter the look of this team for the foreseeable future.
Whether in front of your television set hooked up to a PS4 or XBOX one or scouring the internet for the latest rumors, it's always fun to play general manager and mix-and-match with the current roster. With the expansion draft looming and each team in line to lose one player, trades could be coming shortly as teams prepare prior to submitting their protected lists.
As part of a four-part series, we start to take a look at who general manager Garth Snow could target in the trade market. Keep in mind, this is all purely speculative, as it's an ever changing dynamic from day to day, even hour to hour. These are not rumors nor predictions, only one opinion of who might be able to help the club and 'could' be available as we move forward.
Career: 572 GP, 174-244-418
The 26-year old Ontario native has spent his now eight-year NHL career with the Colorado Avalanche, who tumbled this season to 48 points, last in the entire league. Duchene was dogged with trade rumors from December forward and it clearly affected his play. He finished with 18 goals and only five his final 45 games, after scoring 30 just a short season ago. On a team that was so bad, he finished at 51% 5v5 Corsi.
A dynamic skater, Duchene would add instant credibility to a first line should he be placed with John Tavares. If not, he would make the Islanders attack more multi-faceted as part of a second scoring line. One of the most important traits Duchene could bring to the table would be his proficiency for winning faceoffs, a clear need for improvement across the entire roster. Last season, he won 62.6% of all his draws and has not finished below 50% since his rookie season as a 19-year old.
Snow was very close to acquiring his talents at this year's trade deadline, with talks falling apart at the last minute, as Colorado general manager Joe Sakic decided to hold onto his asset in an effort to drive up prices at next month's NHL draft, to be held in Chicago. That works against Snow with more teams now involved, but New York has the assets to pull this one off.
Career: 496 GP - 157-143-300
Kane is another terrific skater but plays with an edge, offering an element to his game that Duchene does not. The six-foot, two-inch winger would give the Islanders an excellent addition to the power forward characteristic and be a fine compliment to the developing Anders Lee.
At 25-years of age, he just completed his eighth season in the league and is coming off a 28-goal season for the dysfunctional Buffalo Sabres. Kane has been one of the hottest takes of all the players that might be available on the trade market, with off-ice issues sometimes overshadowing his on-ice talents. It was recently announced that he will not face charges for an incident outside a Buffalo bar in June of 2016.
That could be a factor for Snow, who in the past has talked on many occasions about judging a player's character almost as much as his talents, not wanting to create drama and invite strife to what seems to be a harmonious locker room. With Buffalo firing their general manager and head coach, the Sabres could finally pull the trigger and move the winger out.
A deal for Kane could come cheaper than the cost for Duchene, and his talents would be immediately welcomed to a team that could use size and grit on the wing. Does Snow allow the extracurricular activities when not in uniform to dictate the end result?