This was really the big question after an eventful week in Islanders Country. After the wheeling and dealing, were the Islanders better or not?
This article makes the argument that they are, in fact, better. I could see that. Not everyone agrees.
The thing I think a lot of Isles fans are missing, however, is just how bad things looked going into the exhibition draft. The Islanders were a team pretty much at the salary cap for next season already, that didn’t make the playoffs. That’s a disaster.
So yes, giving up a first round pick to “protect” core players, and then trading away one of them, Hamonic, for draft picks seems a little crazy, but that pick was the price you pay for two things, getting Grabovski’s contract off the cap next season, and getting Vegas to agree to pick a player who they could have just as easily signed next week.
The truth of the matter is, Berube wasn’t coming back. If Vegas wanted to, they could have picked any one of a number of Islanders roster players, and also signed Berube as an unrestricted free agent. By taking Berube, and the cap hit that Grabo stood to take next season, the Golden Knights did the Isles a real favor. A first round pick was their price, and Garth Snow paid it to get some cap flexibility, that then allowed him to make the deal for Eberle.
Will the picks they got for Hamonic turn into Matt Duchene or someone else to be the Isles second line center? Who knows? It could happen, it may not. If it doesn’t, the Isles have an obvious whole in their lineup unless Barzal would be capable of going straight into that spot. I wouldn’t count on that either.
My guess is that this will play out over the Summer, but given the question around this and the necessary contract extension for Calvin deHaan, I don’t see the Islanders making any free agent additions come July. There’s not much room on the roster or under the cap, to do that unless Garth is truly giving up on getting another center.
In the end, whether this team is enough to get back to the playoffs will come down to how well some of the kids play. Ho Sang, Barzal, Beauvillier, Pulock and Pelech are all going to be counted on this season. It’s their time just as much as it’s JT, Ladd and Eberle’s time.