As the 2022 NHL trade deadline approaches, the New York Islanders appear to be involved in a number of conversations about potential deals. Unfortunately, they are not in the position they thought they were in. At the start of the season, fans and management expected the Islanders to be in the middle of a playoff race or in contention for playoff position. But instead of buyers, they’re sellers, and if they want to change things quickly, they’ll have to offload some contracts. Here’s a roundup of the Islanders’ trade rumors as they prepare to be sellers on Deadline.
Traded to the Islanders for Nino Niederreiter on the first day of free agency in 2013, Cal Clutterbuck had a huge impact on Long Island. Part of what many considered the best fourth line in the NHL, Clutterbuck, alongside Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas, helped define the identity of the Islanders even before the arrival of head coach Barry Trotz in 2018. But with the team slipping from the top of the league after back-to-back Stanley Cup semifinal appearances, it might be time to split the group.
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Even before Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic visited UBS Arena on Sunday as the Islanders took on the Montreal Canadiens, Clutterbuck would have been moved. Although it is believed that Sakic was there spot a defender, reports he was there for Clutterbuck stirred the simmering pot on the final six winger. A season-ending UFA, Clutterbuck could be a veteran boost for a playoff team looking for a playoff edge with offensive advantages and the ability to kill penalties. Sources said in the fourth periodand confirmed by other outlets, that if the Islanders can receive a midterm pick for Clutterbuck, he is likely to be moved.
Despite the Islanders’ poor season, Semyon Varlamov and his partner Ilya Sorokin have achieved excellent numbers this season. Add to that Varlamov’s contract, which still has another year at $5 million, and it’s no wonder teams are calling. Currently, rumors have it that the Vegas Golden Knights are interested in the goaltender after former Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner suffered what appeared to be a long-term injury. There is also a connection between Varlamov and Golden Knights president of hockey operations George McPhee, who drafted Varlamov when he was general manager of the Capitals.
But in just two days, that rumor is being challenged, as Lehner returned to practice on Wednesday (From “Robin Lehner Returns to Practice for the Golden Knights on Wednesday”, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 02/23/2022). However, his numbers haven’t been spectacular this season (19-13-1, 2.86 goals-against average, .907 save percentage) and they may still be looking for some reassurance as they seek to qualify for the playoffs.
Related: 3 reasons why islanders shouldn’t trade Varlamov
For the Islanders, while dealing him would offer a lot of relief for the offseason, it would still take a hefty package to keep Varlamov away, especially because the team doesn’t have many options for a backup if he is dealt. . That doesn’t mean a deal can’t be done, but it does create a hurdle for, at the very least, the rest of this season.
A controversial Islander as there have even been, Josh Bailey would be a player teams call ahead of the trade deadline. He hasn’t had a stellar season so far, catching the ire of many Islanders fans, but he could be a nice piece for a contender to add to their third line. Paired with the right linemates, Bailey could rack up assists as a middle-six forward on most playoff-bound teams. Reports indicate that the Minnesota Wild are a potential suitor for Bailey, although the trade would require the Wild to move $2.5 million before the trade or the Islanders to keep the money for at least the rest of the trade. this season.
Bailey still has two years left on his six-year, $30 million ($5 million AAV) contract after this season and has no trade protection. Like Varlamov, if Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello can move Bailey’s contract to the deadline, it would give the team some serious cap relief this offseason as it looks to retool and face the 2022-23 NHL season. This, of course, is only possible if they manage to keep their salary for this season only, given the aforementioned Wild cap issue at the moment.
On the same day, Zdeno Chara equaled the record of most games played by a defenderconversations have surfaced about Chara’s availability. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun said teams are interested in the oldest statesman who can still bring it physically and could be a good third pair defender down the stretch and in the playoffs for a contender.
LeBrun was also sure to mention that while Chara doesn’t have trade protection, Lamoriello would likely go to Chara at some point to see if he was interested in a move out of respect for the future Hall of Famer. Chara struggled a bit on Long Island, but his pedigree and leadership abilities are clearly enough for teams looking to add depth in the stretch.
Lamoriello is keeping things pretty quiet, so we probably won’t know much more than now until a trade actually happens. For many, these players made a lot of sense even before the rumors and reports started to be discussed. The Islanders may be waiting for a miraculous playoff push, but it seems more likely that they’ll be sellers at the deadline, and these players seem to be the center of the conversation.
Jon Zella is a 31 year old Long Island native who currently lives in Syracuse, NY. Outside of hockey, he enjoys motorcycles, beer, coffee and his dog Olive.