How to Fix the New York Overpay-Landers

How to Fix the New York Overpay-Landers

The New York Islanders have peaked as a team in its current form. And they face a serious issue, thanks to the global pandemic and a frozen salary cap, but also an even bigger issue with the overpay of many, many contracts on the present roster. It’s ok, though. I’m going to tell you how to fix this.

Overpaid contracts, you may say? Didn’t the team just make it to the conference finals for a second year in a row? How is that bad?

Fair questions. And here’s the fair answer. It’s not bad at all. It’s just not good. Being in 3rd or 4th place, depending on how you look at it, isn’t something you aspire to. Yes, last season’s unexpected bubble playoff run was fantastic. Going to a game 6 in a conference final was a very needed step forward for this organization.

But the 2021 season? I have no idea how Lou Lamoriello won GM of the Year. In case you missed Lou’s moves? I’ll help you out:

  • He traded away young defenseman Devon Toews for a pair of second round draft picks.
  • He made a move to acquire a scorer after the leading goal scorer had a season ending injury, giving up a first round pick to do so.

That’s it, folks.

Now, if Lou brought in a goal scorer LAST fall to bolster the team for a whole season? I’d be impressed. Instead, he rolled out basically the same team that lost in 6 games, only to see them lose in 7 games. The excuse will be “We didn’t have Anders Lee!” True. And if you did? You don’t have Kyle Palmieri and his playoff hot streak.

Going from wining a round of playoffs before going home versus two games away from a cup is an impressive step. Going from missing by two games to missing by one game? And losing to the same team? It means you need changes.

Don’t believe me? Look at the recent 2 cups in 3 years trip of the LA Kings. They had 6 different starters and a 33% turnover on Defense the year they won the first of two cups compared to the year before. The Pittsburgh Penguins followed the same plan, and did 2 cups in 2 years with 6 different starters from the year before when they lost in the payoffs.

What hot dogs?

But the Islanders have a problem. They have good players, absolutely. Mathew Barzal is stifled a little in Coach Barry Trotz’s defensive minded system, but preventing a goal is the same as scoring a goal in the end run. Anders Lee grew exponentially against Washington in the 2020 playoffs as a clutch player. Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech have become a legitimate top defensive pairing.

BUT THE CONTRACTS. HOLY SHIT.

Lou is bad at contracts. Take, for instance, his first Islander negotiation- John Tavares.

Lou offered Tavares 8 years at $11 million a year. You may say “That was the market for a scumbag,” and you would be right. Allegedly the San Jose Sharks offered Tavares $13 million per.

So is it a bad contract? Ask Toronto. The vast majority of their fans started hating that contract last year, only to be confirmed with this season. And there’s still 4 years to go.

Would John Tavares help this Islanders team? Absolutely. Would his salary fuck the entire team like he’s doing in Toronto? Undeniably.

The same thing applies to the Artemi Panarin deal. Panarin is, in my opinion, a better player than Tavares. More speed, sneakier….and overpaid. Lou was in on that as well. And I’m not talking overpaid because he has an 8 figure annual cap hit, although that helps.

No, I mean NHL overpaid. Because the last time I checked? No team paying a guy an 8 figure salary has ever won a Stanley Cup. Not a single one. Shit, one player from Buffalo hasn’t even made the playoffs for that 8 figure deal.  

Now, despite their trying, the Islanders have no players making an 8 figure salary. But they have a lot of guys punching above their weight class.

Take, for instance, Anders Lee. Lee is a 20 goal scorer. It may be 21, it may be 25, but he’s a 20 goal scorer. Sure, with Tavares at center he was a 40 goal scorer, but there’s no Tavares here, and I think that his playing two years now with Barzal shows Barzal is no Tavares either. It’s easily arguable that Barzal makes no one better, whereas Tavares got Lee to 40 goals and Bailey to 71(!) points, totals that they will never touch again.

Anders Lee makes $7 million dollars a year to score 20 goals. Is that an overpay? Absolutely. Not even looking around the league but at their own roster? It’s an overpay. Why isn’t Brock Nelson being paid $7 million a year, except for the fact that he’s not worth it?

IF you look around the NHL, Anders Lee’s stats look an awful lot like Mike Hoffman. An outlier of a goal scoring year, but a 20 goal scoring power play guy. And Hoffman? His highest cap hit ever was basically $5.2 million. That means Lee is overpaid by 1.8 million dollars, and that’s just the beginning.

Another Lou contract- Brock Nelson. Islander fans may remember how soft he was before Trotz came around. They may recall his very soft 2021 playoff series vs. Tampa Bay. But they may have forgotten that he gets paid $6 million a season.

You know who else gets paid $6 million a season? Nathan McKinnon. $6.3 million, to be exact. And if I asked you “Hey, would you trade Brock Nelson straight up for Nathan McKinnon?” The only people saying they wouldn’t do it are true #IslesKoolAid, or brain damaged. Yeah, Brock Nelson is overpaid by league standards.

I’m not even finished.

JP Pageau. He was a 1C on the Ottawa Senators in a season where a 1C in Otawa is a 3C on a playoff team. And that’s exactly what he was for the Islanders. Now, I like Pageau, but when the Islanders extended him for $5 million a year? During the COVID crisis? Knowing the cap was frozen for a few season? Bidding exclusively so no one could influence your offer?

Pageau’s best season for goals was 24, and points was 43. Those bests were NOT in the same season. But you know whats funny? The Edmonton Oilers also made a COVID signing when just like the Islanders they were bidding against no one. And you know what happened?

Ryan Nugent Hopkins got paid $5.125m. RNH’s best seasons for goals and points? 28 goals and 69 points. In the same season! And he followed that season with another 60 point season. 69 is 50% more than 43, and yet they’re paid the same. RNH has 4 20 goal seasons, would have had a 5th in 2021 if it was 82 games, was 1 short in a season where he missed 2 games, and 2 short of 20 in a season where he missed 20 games. That’s a combined 7 20 goals seasons compared to 1, and a best year that was 67% as good as the guy making virtually the same money.

“But Pageau plays defense!” Yeah, I saw that defense versus elite forwards two years in a row now, and I’m not impressed. Regular season isn’t playoffs. Selke up Brayden Point, jerkoff.

“Are you going to attack Mat Barzal’s contract?” you may be wondering. No, no I’m not. Mat Barzal is a guy that would be a 20-60-80 player on other teams in this league. He was on pace for 20 goals in this shortened season DESPITE having Leo Komarov as a wing. He was the Islanders best player against Tampa, and the ONLY player who elevated his game versus the champs.

But that fucking Komarov? A minimum wage player eating $3 million.

Matt Martin came off of a deal paying him $2.5 million, but took a hometown discount to stay with the Islanders. Wait, who gave a 4th line grinder with no offensive output $2.5 million? Lou Lamoriello!. And then traded for him when Lou came to the Island!!

Maybe this trend started with Garth Snow giving Josh Bailey $5 million a year to score 13 goals a year- which is his career average of 13 years and 162 goals.  Or maybe it was that Casey Cizikas taking $3.4 million to score 9 goals and be a part of the highest paid 4th line in the NHL. No wonder they call it the “Identity Line.” The entire line is overpaid. They all need a Martin correction to stay with this team, or else they’re hurting it. Two time and soon to be three time cup champ Patrick Maroon does that exact same job with maybe better statistics for $900,000. So Cizikas is a million dollar player, statistically. And Maroon has not only Cizikas’s intangibles, but the experience of 3 cups, compared to zero for CC. And CC. And MM. All overpaid.

Yes, I know Cizikas had a 20 goals season. So that makes Bailey even MORE overpaid, as he’s never done that entry level top 6 achievement in 13 seasons. Bailey compares points per game to Craig Smith in Boston, who makes $3.1 million although Smith has a few 20 goals seasons under his belt as well.

Let’s talk goaltenders. Seymon Varlamov is being paid $5 million. Yes, he was a Vezina finalist, but by this point if you don’t realize that it’s Trotz’s defense first system and the incredible goalie coaching that helps these guys out, I don’t know what to tell you. But ;ets talk about Varlamov’s stats when he received that contract.

The Islanders signed Varlamov to a $5 million a year for 4 years deal coming off a season where his GAA 2.87 was and his save percentage was .909. Hmmm, there was an Islander goalie recently that was coming off of a season with a 2.69 GAA and a .913 save percentage and was given a 3 year deal for $3.3 million. And that same guy- with a much worse team- put up a 2.70 GAA and a .913 save percentage for…$3.6 million dollars just this last season.

Yeah, that was Thomas Greiss. Who is just about the same skill set as Varlamov. And makes $1.4 million less against the salary cap.

So, if Lee is $1.8 millon overpaid, Nelson at LEAST a million overpaid, Bailey almost $2 million overpaid, Komarov $2.2 million overpaid, Varlamov $1.4 million overpaid, well folks, that’s over $8 million dollars in salary cap money that can improve the team and retain key players. Lou, by giving bad contracts and not trading away issue contracts, has created a roughly 10% inflation rate on the Islanders cap hit.

And I didn’t even bring up Andrew Ladd and Thomas Hickey. Two complete waste of money deals because neither guy plays, but they eat over $5 million of the salary cap for the team while in Bridgeport.

What could the Islanders do with $8-$13 million more? Field a team that can beat Tampa Bay and win a Stanley Cup.

But that’s the #IslesKoolAid “Land of If’s.” We have to deal with reality. And the reality is, there needs to be some changes for the Islanders to get to the next level. Want some ideas?

Vladimir Tarasenko is a very recent Stanley Sup winner. I tend to like guys that win Cups. It’s the experience that the Islanders are lacking in, as they shop from teams like Ottawa and New Jersey. So to start, you can offer a Jordan Eberle- a top line offensive player until Trotz- and his $5.5 million contract to take back Tarasenko and his $7.5 million deal. Maybe St Louis even eats $1 million of that deal to facilitate it. That’s a net $1 million add to the Isles cap.

Next, Detroit has said we will take salary from you if you send us defense. Hey Nick Leddy, its time to go. And we’ll even throw in “veteran leadership” with Leo Komarov and the last year of his contract. Plus, Komarov is being paid less than his cap hit, which is always a plus for the team acquiring him. We can take a 3rd rd draft pick in return. That’s a net -$8 million from the cap.

The Edmonton Oilers always seems to lose important games. I’d bet its because they roll out Islander castoff Mikko Koskinen as their starting goalie. The Islanders have a goalie of the future in Ilya Sorokin, and he needs to get paid. Varlamov as a $5 million backup is crazy.  But $5 million as a starter with playoff experience? Here you go, Oilers. We’ll take a 3rd round pick in return.  That saves $4.2 million on the cap.

ADURRRRRR

There’s also an expansion draft. Wouldn’t a team that’s new LOVE some veteran leadership? Here you go Seattle- take Josh Bailey. We’ll throw in that 3rd from Edmonton to ensure that taking. Savings? $5 million on the cap.

How do we replace Nick Leddy? That should be Noah Dobson. Or, you COULD play Thomas Hickey and honor the bad contract Lou gave him. But I say be creative here. First off, the Andy Greene era should be over. But if you want a veteran at minimum wage And a feel good story? Zdeno Chara. He forms half of the bottom pair, has a homecoming, the fans can cheer a hall of famer who started and maybe ends his career on the Island, and he is absolutely coming in at minimum wage. Add $800k to the cap.

That’s still only 5 defensemen on the roster, however. So I’d look to promote either Bode Wilde or Sam Bolduc as the 6, and have Chara teach them like he did in Boston with Charlie McAvoy. McAvoy seems to be pretty good, and gave Chara a gigantic hug on the handshake line when Boston beat Washington in the 2021 playoffs. That speaks volumes to his tutelage. And a rookie deal? $800K.

If you’re doing the math, that leaves the Islanders $15 million to retain Kyle Palmieri, resign Pelech, Cizikas, Sorokin, and Beauvilier, and to add a backup goalie- Pekka Rinne maybe at a minimum deal? – which should be more than enough money to make that happen. Especially is Cizikas takes a Martin deal- time over money. That’d save the team $1.5 million.

Also, there’s rumors that the Minnesota Wild are looking to buy out Zach Parise. If they do? A Father-Son homecoming, at a league minimum deal. Or dare to dream and add cup winner Blake Coleman to your roster in between $3.6 million per season, a 100% raise for the player.

The end result?

TarasenkoBarzalLee
WhalstromNelsonPalmieri
BeauvilierPageauBellows/Parise/Coleman
MartinCizikasClutterbuck
PelechPulock
DobsonMayfield
CharaBolduc/Wilde
SorokinRinne? An $1m backup?

What’s the cap hit for this lineup? Well, that’s a tough one. Lou is bad at market value. But the knowns? Line one is $21.5 million. Line 2 projects to $11m. Line 3 projects to $9-13 million. Line 4? $7 million. That’s $49.5-52.5 million at forward.

Defense? The knowns and minimum deals combine to $9.5 million. Pelech getting $4-5M? $14.5 m on defense.

In goal? Sorokin should come in between $3-4 million, as he is a restricted free agent and there’s no need to pay hi like a king without seeing him perform like one. And $1m for a backup makes goal AT MOST $5 million.

The future, right?

Total cap hit? $69 – 72 million dollars. Leaving the Islanders $9.5 -$12.5 million under the cap. And an arguably better roster. And future flexibility. And this lets Hickey’s contract fade away in that season to free up another more than $2 million or make him a in season trade option on a cheap expiring contract on a defenseman, which is an asset in this league. Clutterbuck needs a pay cut as well after this season. And if Ladd goes fishing again? You add over $5 million in LTIR to chill with Boychuk’s $6 million that’s already there, giving the Islanders a total over $20 million of cap space to Tampa up the roster. Ovechkin, anyone?

The above is a deeper team at forward, a similar team at defense and goal, and a team that has a financial future which will be needed with all of Lou’s draft pick trade aways. It adds cup winners, experience, youth, speed, and subtracts nothing. It follows the trend of teams making serious moves to get over the top. It adds guys with power play experience. It creates a top six spot for their top offensive prospect. And I can absolutely guarantee you this- no team with Josh Bailey in the top six will ever win a Stanley Cup. This lineup fixes that.

Or, you can wait for Lou to trade another good, young player to make sure you pay the same team minus one part to compete against the two time champs. More to the point, do you think that having Toews on the blueline instead of Greene gets you the same results? You know, a speedy guy who had 6 goals and 28 points with Trotz and followed with 10 points in 22 playoff games compared to Greene’s last 2 playoffs combining for 5 points in 40 games?

Another guarantee- unless there’s some substantive changes on this team, you’re going to see the return of the same roster, only slightly diminished, and probably a second round loss versus Carolina. Or at best? A third round loss to Tampa Bay. Again. Or as we say a lot around here, more of the same.

A Cautionary Tale for the New York Islanders

A Cautionary Tale for the New York Islanders

This is the story of the 2021 New York Islanders hockey season. And maybe the 2024 Islanders season. And possibly the 2027 Islanders season.

The 2021 New York Islanders season on the surface was an excellent run. With a shortened regular season, we won’t spend too much time discussing the day by day or month by month progress of the team. That was not the goal of the Islanders. They were built for the postseason. Rather, we will explore two aspects of the regular season that helped shape the Islanders postseason, and will help shape both the near and distant future.

I’m sure you can predict that one event for consideration would be the Anders Lee injury. Lee’s torn ACL was a giant setback for a team that struggles greatly with offense- especially the powerplay, which is the most important aspects to Lee’s game.. This setback also hurt Matt Barzal as not only did he lose a twenty goal scoring wing, but that wing was immediately replaced with a two goal scoring wing. The decision to play Leo Komarov on the first line of the New York Islanders is absolutely the biggest NHL mystery of the 2021 regular season or postseason.

The next aspect of the regular season I wanted to discuss were the trade deadline acquisitions. Adding Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac, and Brayden Coburn was the equivalent of adding Kyle Palmieri. Palmieri was the only player of those three to make any significant impact due to having two excellent playoff rounds. You can point to Zajac preventing a goal during the playoffs as maybe something worthwhile as well, but ultimately in acquiring Zajac and convincing the New Jersey Devils to retain salary on both players, the cost to the Islanders was a first round pick – something they have not had a lot of in the last two years. More on this later.

The main focus of an Islander retrospective needs to be on the postseason. The series against the Pittsburgh Penguins it was fantastic. It was enjoyable, it was exciting, and if Pittsburgh had competent goaltending they might have won that series. When Josh Bailey is lighting you up for goals you know you’ve got goalie issues. Personally, I did not expect Pittsburgh to win that series and made it known to everyone I could that the Islanders would win that series in six games. If only there was sports betting in New York…

Pregaming for Pittsburgh

The Boston series was a bit tougher for me to predict as I didn’t see much of Boston during the regular season except against the Islanders. After watching two games of the series I was fully confident that the Islanders would win  because Boston is a one line team, even with the addition of Taylor hall. Boston’s time is clearly fading away. Their title was a decade ago. Getting rid of Zdeno Chara was just one of the many required dismantling moves that the team will need to make in order to stay competitive. Boston has to rebuild their forward ranks as even with Hall they had no effective line after the first one.

Booing at Boston

the Islanders returned to the Eastern Conference finals, site of last years single handed dismantling and manhandling by Victor Hedman. And to make it worse, this time Tampa would have the services of Steven Stamkos, who had missed last year’s playoffs against the Islanders due to injury.

Was this series closer than last year’s series? Yes. absolutely. Did the Islanders perform marginally better than they did last year? Yes, as they played in seven games this year instead of 6. But there was something about the way that series ended that left a bad taste in my mouth. That being the final 16 goals of the series, 13 of which were scored by Tampa. That is an overwhelmingly oppressive statistic.

Shockingly the Islanders were two and two in that span, as the first two of those 16 came after the Islanders built a three goal lead in game 4, ad needed an amazing play at the end of the game to keep Tampa from hitting virtually empty net. This was followed by the worst playoff loss in franchise history in Game 5. The Islanders needed overtime to win Game 6, only to be shut out for a second time in a 5 days in a game seven defeat off of a power play goal, except the team with the power play didn’t score the goal. This is nothing new to any Islander fan that watched that series. They knew that the Islanders were the underdogs just like they were in the first two rounds, but it’s something entirely different to be the underdogs against the Champions.

WHY?

Against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Islanders saw a multitude of players stepping up on different nights to be heroes. And that’s kind of a problem. When a team is relying on Scott Mayfield for game tying goals and Matt Martin for game winning goals? There’s a failure in the execution of your top six forwards. I do understand that Tampa Bay has a perennial Norris trophy candidate on defense and a former Norris trophy candidate on defense as well as an up and coming young defenseman who is already very good making up half of their blue line, but not everyone on the Islanders is guarded by a Norris trophy defenseman.

Take, for instance, Islanders forward JG Pageau. Pageau is the Islanders third line center but just a season ago he was the Ottawa Senators first line center. Pageau was not often facing Norris trophy winning defenseman, even though Pageau has in done such in the past as a 1C.  Pageau had zero goals against Tampa Bay.

Kyle Palmieri also did nothing offensively against Tampa Bay in either goals or assists despite two strong postseason series against Pittsburgh and Boston. Travis Zajac did nothing in any scoring category at all against Tampa unless you count plus minus as a scoring category, to which he was minus 3. Those three players we’re not facing Norris trophy defenseman and yet they did nothing. if you want people to step up and be heroes from unusual places, a good place to look would be from guys you acquired in trades who were top line players on other teams. And also, Travis Zajac.

Why does this matter? Because in acquiring both Pageau and Palmieri the Islanders gave up multiple draft picks. Three picks for Pageau, and 2 picks and 2 prospects for Palmieri. And while it’s true that the Islanders went to the conference finals in both of those seasons, if one scans the Islanders roster and looks at the ages of the players in the top six they threw out against Tampa Bay, you’ll notice that when the next time this team takes ice only two of their top 6 is on the right side of 30. Speaking of a top 6, let’s address that now.

The Islanders first line of Mat Barzal, Jordan Eberle and Leo Komarov combined for four goals. Three of those goals came off the stick of Barzal, and zero of those goals came off of the stick of Leo Komarov. This begs to ask the question “How is a player who only has two goals in 60 career playoff games on the first line of a team that you expect to win the Stanley Cup?”

There is no good answer to that question. A better question would be “Say there was a player you could have rotated in to that spot who was one of your leaders in power play production during the regular season. Would you do it at the expense of the guy that doesn’t score?” The reality is that there was a better option, but the stubbornness of a defense first coach who refused to consider that option on any meaningful level ultimately diminished the production of every other player on that first line.

Now am I saying fire Barry Trotz? Not at all. Without Trotz this team doesn’t make the playoffs, nevertheless the Eastern Conference finals. But can you question Trotz and his decision making process? 100% absolutely yes. Trotz even gave us evidence of his thinking when he pulled Semyon Varlamov out of goal against Pittsburgh to let NHL rookie but very experienced goaltender Ilya Sorokin take over goaltending duties. All Sorokin did was win every game he played against Pittsburgh, to be mothballed after one bad game versus Boston. Who scored by the second shot of every game in which they faced Varlamov.

I bet one team jumps out to an early lead…

Let’s look at that second line. The production of Josh Bailey, Anthony Beauvillier and Brock Nelson combined equaled the output of Matthew Barzal by himself. While I’m not expecting much production from a fourth line I won’t forget that Matt Martin had the game winning goal in game 4, and that in seven games line 4 scored one less goal than lines two and three combined. I guess line 4 didn’t face elite defenders. Oh, they did?  

By the way, isn’t the second line of a conference finals team supposed to be excellent? Yep. Wouldn’t you expect any team going to the conference finals to at least have two lines? We certainly know Tampa had two lines because after the Islanders finally stopped the first line from scoring in every game of the series, a different line scored. That Brayden Point’s individual output on Tampa was more than half of the Islanders team output in goals is a pressing issue.

Not to beleaguer the playoffs any more than I have to but I do want to come up with one final point regarding the 2021 season and end of the Islanders playoff run. Could the Islanders have beaten Tampa Bay? A fair question. The Islanders had a dominant game one in Tampa, the Islanders lost game three by a goal, and the Islanders lost game 7 by a goal.

Of course the Islanders also won game one by a goal, game four by a goal, and game 6 by a goal in overtime. Also game four will be remembered for the Islanders almost completely blowing a three goal lead without a superhuman play by Ryan Pollack. If Tampa scores in that game 4 at that point in time I would bet my house at the Islanders lose in overtime. There would just be too much momentum after coming back from such a huge deficit.

So good!

So when we come back to the question could the Islanders have beaten Tampa Bay , my answer is in two parts. One part is an old theory that I have that is still 100% right to this day , and the other one is a theory I developed about seven games ago in the Islander season. The first theory- that a team with Josh Bailey in your top 6 will never go to a Stanley Cup finals- is now both 100% correct and on a 13 year “Dan is right“ streak.

The second part of that answer is this- if Leo Komarov is your answer to replacing Anders Lee at wing, you will never make it to a Stanley Cup final. That was the theory I developed with the intense research f watching Komarov play 19 games on the first line in the playoffs and never score a goal. Which was predictable, because last year we watched him play 17 playoff games on a third line and only score one goal against weaker defensive competition. So if you factor in Komarov competing against better defenseman that one would become zero. In Komarov’s Islander career he has two playoff goals in 44 games, going one, one, 0 for those three entire post seasons. 1,1,0. Komarov’s new nickname? Binary.     

No shit.

The next part in this retrospective is the what’s next section. The 2021 Islanders already have a glimpse of what’s next thanks to the 2020 Islanders. After the 2020 game 6 loss to Tampa in the conference finals, the Islanders had to part way with Devon Toews from their defense and also were gifted with the injury retirement of Johnny Boychuk just to hold the remaining players together.

The Islanders face a steeper cliff this offseason. The Islanders have eight players who need new contracts. Some of these eight players are clearly replaceable, such as Travis Zajac, Michael Dal Calle or Andy Greene. Even if all those are ejected from the team? That’s not much of a savings as those players weren’t making that much money.

Then there comes the hard questions. Casey Cizikas is a UFA. Kyle Palmieri is a UFA. Both were key in this Islanders run until they ran into Tampa Bay. The question you have to ask is “are these players worth the money- which for both of them will be north of $4 million per year- to come back and if facing Tampa Bay in the playoffs do absolutely nothing again?”

On this question I would say one of those players is definitely worth keeping and that would be Kyle Palmieri. No offense to Casey Cizikas. He has been a lifelong Islander, an extra hard player, a guy with a tainted back story who came here kept his head down and worked hard to make himself rich. And if he wants one last contract making big money in his career? God bless him. Let him go and play 60 games out of 82 for some other team for $4 million . And if whoever that team is shows up in a conference finals, understand that Cizikas will not score a goal, as he has no goals in 13 conference finals games. He only scores about 9 per regular season anyway.

I’d rather see a Blake Coleman take a spot on this team- a guy w cup experience, a gritty game, 20 goals seasons, and did I mention the very recent cup experience? Remember how vast the changes were to the Islanders culture with the acquisition of Stanley Cup winners Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk?

The next two players that are restricted free agents are must sign players. Why? Because they are under 30 and the team still has some control on what they get paid and how long their contracts are. This means that they can be had on some level of a discount compared to being on the open market. Anthony Beauvilier and Adam Pelech our players that are key to the Islanders future. They’re young, there is still a level of control over them, and frankly the team is barren of prospects, which gets to the next point in the what’s next section- which players to protect in the expansion draft.

First Derogatory Nickname? Ass Kracken

Personally? If you’re making more than $3 million for the Islanders and if you’re over 30 you would be exposed in the expansion draft. The only player in that criteria I would even consider keeping is Anders Lee. Lee is the team captain and he is a productive player, but he’s also coming off of a major injury and isn’t getting younger. Also it’s the type of injury that could make you slower, and Lee’s game was already pretty slow. In short, if Lee was exposed, would anyone even take him for $7 million a year for the next half decade?

Ideally the Islanders would negotiate a trade with Seattle in which they would send a predetermined player to Seattle for salary cap relief and maybe add an additional asset of a third round graph pick, or even a second round draft pick. Why? Because lately the Islanders have showed no regard for draft picks. They are absolutely a win now team , as our discussion of 67% of the top two lines are players 30 and over. And that trade away the future for the now problem? That problem will fully reveal itself fully when in two years Brock Nelson, Andres Lee, and whatever is left from these 30 year olds are slower and there’s nothing immediately there to replace them. GM Lou Lamiorello is already on that path, and it seems can not be stopped despite common sense, so why not go all in?

Maybe the way to keep Palmieri?

One thing I kept hearing during these playoffs is that Tampa Bay was cheating on the salary cap. Did Tampa cheat the cap? No. They exploited a rule that let them accumulate a $99 million dollar payroll. Another team that also took advantage of that rule for almost $10 million dollars? The New York Islanders. If you think Tampa cheated the cap, then so did the Islanders. Some say that if you ain’t cheatin, you ain’t trying. I’m OK with that.

Barry Trotz is on record saying that this team was special, and will look different next year. You have to expect that based on the expansion draft, the frozen salary cap, and the inevitable decline of aging players or injured players. However, let’s talk about how Tampa Bay handled that exact same situation very recently.

A Tampa Bay Sidestory in How to Create Success

In the 2003-04 season, Tampa Bay’s young forwards Vincent Lecavlier, Brad Richards, Martin St Louis and defenseman Dan Boyle led Tampa to their first cup. After a lockout and a few unsuccessful playoff runs, Tampa traded away Richards. The team did not play well and ended up drafting 1st overall in 2008. While Islanders fans cheered over Josh Bailey, Tampa Bay was taking Steven Stamkos. They traded away Boyle after finishing year one of a deal he had signed for 6 years. The reward for that trade? Drafting Victor Hedman.

As the Lightning improved as a team? They made a move that was brilliant- the bought out the contract of Vincent Lecavilier. Not because of his play, but because his cap hit of over $7 million a year until 2020 would hurt the team’s development at that time.

When St. Louis demanded a trade to the Rangers, Tampa took back Ryan Callahan and gave him a healthy contract extension. Tampa Bay returned to the Stanley Cup finals that season. And when Callahan started to deteriorate, traded him to Ottawa for almost $3 million of cap savings.

So how’d that work out?

Tampa traded starting goalie Ben Bishop for cap concerns, replacing him with 2012 first round pick Andrei Vasilevskiy for a much smaller paycheck and a return in talent. They ignored a 2015 trade request from top offensive prospect Jonathan Drouin, but complied in 2017 after he proved his value in the NHL. The return? Montreal Canadiens top defensive prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

When 2011 2nd round pick Nikita Kucherov had a breakout season? The Lightning took his breakout linemate Vladilav Namestnikov and traded him to the New York Rangers for Ryan McDonough.  

In short, back in 2014, Tampa came off a few seasons of successful playoff advancements including a Stanley Cup championship, and their management looked at their asked themselves “can they do it again?” And the front office looked at that team and said no. The result?

A 2019 Presidents Trophy, a 2020 Stanley Cup championship, and a 2021 Championship defense. And the willingness to trade any player at any time to any place for pretty much hopeful returns, as no player is bigger than the team.

Yuck.

Even in building this 2021 team, Tampa Bay acquired players to put on that injured reserve to exceed the salary cap. On purpose! And what are those teams demand for you taking millions of actual dollars away from their ownerships during a pandemic? They demanded that you also take their draft picks. So when acquiring $4 million of cap spacee from Ottawa, Tampa Bay also acquired the second round draft pick from Ottawa for that service, meaning Tampa Bay will be drafting somewhere in the twice somewhere in the between 30 and 35 in the upcoming NHL draft. Or maybe bunching those two picks to move up into the top 20 in the NHL draft.

As an Islander fan, I’d like to see the misery of John Tavares suffering as he makes $11 million a year in Toronto. The thing I love to pick on is at Toronto has invested over $40 million of salary cap space more than 50% of the salary cap goes to four players. Toronto uses that for four forwards all of which are talented scorers. I had this theory that bas based on Toronto, which was that you cannot invest half your cap in four players and expect to be a championship team.

Which it was why to my surprise it was to my surprise that Tampa has about 50% of the salary cap invested in four players. The goalie Vasilevsky, maybe the best goalie in the world, Victor Hedman – one of the best defensive players in the world , Steven Stamkos- a team leader and who’s been there from the lows to highs, and Nikita Kucherov, whose 9.5 million this year was hidden under the injury clause of the salary cap to allow attempt to create the first 9.5 of the 18 million or so dollars they violated cap space with. So I guess Toronto’s mistake wasn’t paying for guys half a cap it was paying one position half a cap.

What do I share this story? Because if the Islanders do not break into champions next season, it would be time to sell high on your “core” players, and to redefine what the core is. You make the core players Pelech, Pulock, Barzal, Beauvillier, Sorokin. You give legitimate auditions to Bellows, Wahlstrom and Dobsons . Auditions like actual time on ice playing. You try out the kids you have in your system like Bolduc, Wilde, Jenkins, to see what you have. If you’re not willing to do that? Then you trade those players to fill immediate and long term needs.

If you don’t sell high? Look at the shitshow that happened in Chicago. Or the shitshow that happened in Los Angeles. Or the shitshow happening in Pittsburgh. With good management, good scouting, good drafting, good trading, and good coaching? It seems that the Tampa way is the way to not get bogged down in the past at the expense of the future. And different than the Oiler way, where players get paid AFTER they achieve something.

My foil on Twitter is a man that #IslesREealsits call Kool-Aid Rob. KAR will throw his remote control into a wall over a lost game, and maybe even a lost faceoff. To me, that is a respectable fan. But recently KAR said “This season is over. We don’t have to worry about the roster again until October.“ For a guy that loves hockey so much? That is a horrible take. Do fans influence a team managements decisions? I would argue yes. Remember all the clamoring for Miroslav Satan to play with Alexei Yashin? Remember the calls for the Islanders to acquire Michael Peca after his personal strike against Buffalo? I love that when fans clamored for Thomas Vanek, they got Thomas Vanek. Thankfully Vanek isn’t good at betting and turned down 49 million guaranteed dollars when that contract was offered in 2015, because it would have run out last Friday.

But I don’t blame KAR for his view. His view is issue I call the mistake of the fan that has never seen success. The fan that has to root for individuals because the team was so bad. I was there back in the day for Mariuz Czerkawski dropping 35 goals playing with Ted Donato and Mats Lindrgren, so I get it. Sometimes fans like individual players so much that they can’t bear to see them traded.

However, I would argue that those are not true fans of a team.

When a fan base looks at the success of successful teams, they see teams often trade popular players for other players. Case in point- the New York Islanders . When the Islanders were moving toward a Stanley Cup they traded Billy Harris and Dave Lewis- 2 popular players- for Butch Goring. Hard to argue about the results there.

When the Charles Wang Islanders were looking to be respected? They traded future Hall of Fame defenseman Zdeno Chara to acquire Alexei Yashin. Sometimes you trade players people like. Players know that. Which is why players will always tell you it’s a business. When fans wish players would take a home team discount? They are not thinking about the players perspective at all.”Stay here for less money, which makes me more tradable?” Even if a player likes a location, a smaller deal will help insure that it’s a temporary visit.

In fact, the last Islanders player to take a home team discount was Jordan Eberle, who took less money than his previous contract to stay with the others. And the fans now want to see him traded. Keep that in mind when the Casey Cizikas negotiations happen…and expect CC to have a different crest next season. Tampa Bay has becomes MORE successful with frequent purges of expensive plyers from rosters. Good drafting helps that along, so maybe don’t be so hasty in trading away those first and second round picks?

The reality is, the Islanders are a win now team. But winning just one more playoff game than last season? That’s not the type of growth you need. The growth the Islanders needed this year was to make it to a Stanley Cup finals. If they lose in the Stanley Cup, THAT’S the learning experience. Losing to the same team in consecutive years in playoffs? They already got that lesson.

And as KAR points out, its really hard to go to three consecutive Eastern Conference finals. Odds are they won’t get there again. And if that’s the case? That’s when you 100% know it’s time to sell.

The problem with selling however, is twofold. Fold one is- will Barry Trotz coach a rebuilding team, or is he too far along in life to you want to start from scratch? Trotz has a history of not playing young players in important situations, which can stunt their growth in the short term. See the handling of Noah Dobson in the 2020 postseason, and the handling of Whalstrom in the 2021 post season, and the overall handling of Keifer Bellows. The Islanders do not have time for short term growth stunting.

Not a lot of youth there…

The other aspect with this team is the brand new arena that opens at Belmont in time for the 2021- 2022 season. If after one year at Belmont the Islanders go into a rebuild, the owners are going to shit a brick. They want that arena full for 40 years. The only way that’s going to happen? An annually competitive product. And the only way a competitive product is going to happen annually is with honest raw player assessments and frequent turnover of non key players.

So to conclude this very long 2021 season wrap up, as the New York Islanders are seeing their championship window closing, they have this one off season to short run redefine their team and gear up for one more deep playoff run, and hopefully stay healthy to have a full team coming into their first postseaon at Belmont. After that? Having not had a first round draft pick in two years? And the one from three years ago already a bust? They better stay friendly with Josh ho sang, because in the long run they may actually need him.

Hockey Assists are Participation Trophies

Hockey Assists are Participation Trophies

We have a matter to clean up here. There is some kind of debate as to what is more important in the NHL- goals or assists. That some people even make this a conversation shows the desperation they have for you to like a player that they like who doesn’t contribute a lot to their hockey team.

To this question, there really is no debate, if you use your head. To see which is more important, Just look at the scoreboard. There’s no assist board when the Islanders play the Rangers. The only thing that determines an outcomes are goals. And when you have more than the other team, you win.

The assist is a relatively limited stat in its application. For example, there is no way to get an assist in the NFL. If an entire sport can exist without an assist? I’m sure they’re not alone. When football was invented they determined that at a touchdown pass is not an assist for a touchdown reception. Why? I don’t know. But it makes sense. If you disagree, you can dig up the father of football – Walter Camp. Be sure to blow him so his zombified body doesn’t immediately eat your brains, Then ask him why there are no assists, and watch him eat you for wasting the time of the undead just to ask them a stupid question.

The three sports where assists are most common are baseball, basketball and hockey. Baseball assists are unique in that they’re about defense, and probably have a bigger impact on a game day in and day out than any other type of assist. They even have two versions of an unassisted play- a strikeout, and a play handled by one fielder by himself. It’s important to note that pitchers do not get assists on groundouts or flyouts.

Regarding assists, in some cases, baseball assists are the most impressive, but basketball is where you see the offensive assists impact a game directly, and it varies greatly from how you get assists in hockey.

In basketball, you get an assist when you directly assist in setting up a player to score. To get an assist you have a period of roughly 2 seconds after you pass the ball for a teammate to score to get an assist. When the rules of the game were originally created, players receiving a pass weren’t even allowed a dribble before scoring before a player could be credited with an assist.

But the assist in hockey? You can pass the puck to someone else, watch that guy skate 100 feet away, watch them pass the puck to someone else, then watch that guy shoot it in and BOOM you’re in the box score! For a whole lot of watching and non-involvement! Passengers, Capuano style.

Now, I get the people defending the mythos of the “hockey playmaker,” the guy that compiles assists on the back of others work. That type of player exists in abundance, and we’re going to discuss the player I call the “Coat Tails” player later on.

Don’t get me wrong, there are genuine playmakers in the NHL. Anze Kopitar comes to mind. Jumbo Joe Thornton. Cindy Crosby. A playmaker is probably in the top 50 in assists in the NHL for current players, especially if they have a decade plus in the league. If not, you have to question if they’re a playmaker.

“Why limit a list to 50 players?” you may ask? Fair question, 50 players would be more than 2 full teams, making up almost 10 percent of the NHL.

A playmaker is not just about assists. What makes a playmaker REALLY effective is if they can also score goals. If it’s a 2 on 1 and you know that the playmaker is always going to pass, you can break up the play way more easily than if the player with the puck is a goal scoring threat.  

In short, I will accept that a playmaker makes assists argument, if and only if the playmaker can make a play for himself as well and light the lamp. If a player has never scored 20 goals, they are not a playmaker. Also, if you have scored 20 goals, it doesn’t mean you’re a playmaker.

Beyond that, lets talk about the way hockey awards an assist. It’s a misleading statistic. Why? Because a goal can be unassisted, but there is no assist without a goal. Meaning? The assist is the participation trophy of hockey. And any unnecessary statistic is unimportant, and as you will see, it is absolutely damaging.

Not convinced? Lets set up a little scenario on the value of statistics.

Team A plays Team B. Team B gets 6 assists. Team A gets two assists. Final Score? 4-3, Team A wins.

“HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?,” assist fans say.

Easy. Every goal scored by Team B had 2 assists. One guy made a pass and then went into the locker room to take a shit. Meanwhile someone skated between 5 defenders, drew a penalty, then passed to the extra attacker who was staring at an IPad before he was pushed onto the ice by the bench coach to score the goal.

Another play had a guy grind a puck from the corner, then pass to a guy that dicked around for ten seconds at the point, then shot it at the goalie. On the way, the shot hit a guy in the ass as he skated in front of the net and went into the goal.

Last scoring play for A? On a 3 on 2, there was a crisp passing play that took all of 2 seconds, resulting in a goal.

For team A? One guy got into a passing lane, stole a pass with a fine defensive play, got a breakaway and scored. The next goal? A successful penalty shot. Next, a player chipped a puck past a defenseman along the boards allowing his teammate to swoop in unopposed to score a goal. And the game winner?  A 2 on 1 break on a coughed up puck at the point- think Lee and Eberle on the overtime ECF game winning goal in game 5.

I’m not saying that as a concept assists are invalid. But assists can invalidate individual efforts, which make them a misleading statistic, which is bad. But we shouldn’t always focus on bad. Here comes some good.

The FIVE Best Assists in all of Sports:

  • Outfielder throws out a guy at home plate. Pumps up the entire team, the fanbase, and Youtube content makers. Outfielder does roughly 90% of the work, maybe more now that the play at the plate is non-contact.
  • The Alley Oop. I think that’s French for “Jump your mother behind a building.” A player throws a ball in the very close vicinity of the basket, where some 6’9” guy puts his arms out and jumps a few inches to throw the ball directly into the basket. All skill goes to the guy making the pass.
  • The one timer. Named after your sex life, but not your girlfriend’s. This should be the standard for NHL assists.
  • 1-2-3 double play. Pitcher throws, catches, throws again. Catcher throws. No one scores, the asshole that hit it back to the pitcher is out for sucking, and his teammates trash talk him for being useless.
  • Magic Johnson. Not specifically an assist. More like an assist machine. Highest career Assists Per Game in basketball regular season history, which is an assist per game lower than his highest APG in NBA playoff history. As the game got harder he got better. Known to say “whoo whoo!” as he broke down 40% of the defense singlehandedly and then toss a ball to a 6’10” guy a foot from the basket for an easy 2.

The problem is that the NHL hands out assists like candy, padding the stats of many mediocre players. This is a BAD IDEA. The sport lives in a salary cap world. And not like the NBA salary cap, which has gone up on average of $10 million a year each year over the last four years. You can have players with stats that look something like a half point a game of productivity while actually impacting the scoreboard and outcome of the game about 10% of the time looking to get paid on par with the people with similar surface stats who impact the scoreboard 150% more frequently.

So, how should the NHL reform the stat of assist to make it like the NBA- a direct impact on the scoring- without destroying their salary structure and without rewarding marginal talent?

Let’s start with changing what an assist is and isn’t.

An assist should clearly cause a goal. Like a chip pass to a guy sneaking behind defensemen. Or a one timer pass. Or a saucer pass over a defemsemans stick that someone takes to make a deke and score a goal. Or a passing play where one guy feeds a cutter who collects the pass and rips a wrist shot past the goalie. Like these:

It should not be when a guy makes a pass and goes off for a change to watch a goal get scored. You’re not even on the ice, so how did you affect the play?

It should not be when a guy that passed from the circle in front of his own goal to the guy in the other circle, who then skates singlehandedly across the length of the ice, dekes all defenders, and scores a goal. The fans had as much impact in that play as did the first pass.  

As a whole, secondary assists should almost entirely not exist. No other sport does secondary assists. Why? Because they’re stupid. There is only one way a secondary assist should be allowed to happen. Player A hits player B with a pass who immediately hits player C who shoots and scores. Entire play takes 2 seconds. Then maybe you can make the case for everyone being involved contributors. But a guy who skates around, then hits another guy with a pass who skates around, then shoots it at goal to have it redirected? One assist.

A goalie makes a save on your shot on goal and someone tucks in a rebound? That’s not even a fucking pass. No assist at all.

Puck hits you in the ass and goes in? No assist. Puck hits the opposing team and goes in the net? No assist. Accidents aren’t assists.

What would you find from these changes? Let’s take a couple of players to study, shall we?

Wayne Gretzky had over 100 assists in a season 11 times. Is he a playmaker? Fuck yes. Why? Because Gretzky also has 894 goals. Not counting the 46 more from the WHA. Defend the pass, don’t defend the pass, he’ll still fuck you. One of the most dominant players in any sport ever. Think 99 would have been less great if you added more strict assist rules? Nope, because he scored 900 fucking goals.

Too high a standard? OK, lets take it down a notch. Ziggy Palffy.

12 year career. 684 career games- that’s a 57 game a year average. 329 goals, 384 assists. More than a point a game. If you made assists less frequent? Still a 500 point player in the NHL. I find Palffys last two seasons in the NHL interesting. Here’s why:

16-25-41 in 35 games, then a retirement, followed by a year off, and then his second and final NHL retirement year of 11-31-42 in 42 games. He couldn’t stay NHL healthy, yet he came back at a point a game pace. After Palffy’s second retirement from the NHL? he played 5 more pro seasons in Europe at a pace of almost two points a game, Into his 40’s.

Stat lines like 16-25-41 and 11-31-42 remind me of a certain player….hmmm….can any reader guess whose full season totals I’m thinking of?

An average of 12-20-32 over a full season for 8 years in a row. Anyone calling that elite? Now, add in tougher assist rules and you’re looking at a roughly 20 point a season player.

Welcome to 2008-2016 Josh Bailey, ladies and gentlemen.

Bailey is the player that is often called elite by #IslesKoolAid, who are often cultish in defending the players that they like. So lets start with Ziggy Paffy. Is HE a 20 point a season player with tougher assist rules? Hell no. Is Anze Kpoptiar? Or Patrick Laine? Hell no.

No, Bailey is a different type of player. He’s a coattail player. When others score, he gets points. And that is a problem in a salary cap sport- coattail points.

Because Baileys stats look productive, he is paid like he is productive. But research shows? A drastic overpay- almost 100% over valued.

4 stars in shooting? How generous!

This is TERRIBLE for the sport. It causes skilled players to ask for even more money because coattail players are getting rich. This ties up the salary cap for a team, locking them into a win now mentality as they can’t pay today’s coatails and today’s RFA’s. Salary caps are tied up with players getting contracts in career years, and from padded stats, damaging teams and fan bases. Frans Neilsen in Detroit, anyone? Bobby Ryan in Ottawa?

Wait, what’s that I’m hearing from coattail fans and #IslesKoolAid? What about Baileys coattail prime year hanging around 40 goal scoring Anders Lee and 36 goal scoring John Tavares? Sure, lets look at Bailey averages for career phase two:

15-41-56 over a full 4 seasons, including 15% of his career points coming in one outlying glorious coattail year. “HOW CAN YOU CALL THAT COATTAILS!?,” #IslesKoolAid screams. Here’s how:

Anders Lee scored 34 then 40 goals playing wing next to Some Piece of Shit. Since those years? A 20 something goal scorer, just like before those years. Also, Lee played the 2018-19 season with his same linemate Bailey, just without his center King Douchbag. What happened? Lee saw his goal scoring output drop 30%, back again into the 20somethings. Anders Lee gets paid $7 million a year to score 20something goals. That’s who he is.

And Bailey? Without Snake, his points total that first year dropped over 20%. So…how could both Bailey and Lee have production drops if one guy was such a great playmaker? And why did that “playmaker” drop in his point total another 10% in the season after that? Because the real playmaker is in Toronto. How do I know?

Because one guy was 272-349-631 in 669 games, and the other was 154-322-476 in 865 games. Judging by those two stat lines, which is the playmaker and which rides coattails? Now factor in tougher assist standards and which seems to have more value?

Also, how impactful was that outlier year for Bailey? Without it, Bailey’s FOUR SEASON average drops 10% to 14-37-51.

“Unassisted”

Look at the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Bailey was the Islanders leading scorer with 20 points, breaking down as 2-18-20. The team that won the cup was led by Braden Point who was 14-19-33. Imagine the difference in the Islanders season if Bailey had 9 more goals to go with all of those coattails? Shit, although Nikita Kucherov had 26 assists in the playoffs, he had 350% more goals than Bailey.

Defensemen even had larger impacts on goal scoring than an elite forward. Dallas Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen was 6-20-26 in the playoffs, dwarfing the offensive output of Bailey in goals and grabbing almost 50% more points on the power play. And very deserved playoff MVP Victor Hedman? 10-12-22, 13 power play points, 3 game winning goals including one in overtime. GAME WINNING GOALS. I don’t see any category for game winning assist, however. Because there shouldn’t be.

This isn’t a knock solely on Bailey. Many teams have a Bailey. Kyle Turris in Nashville. Vladislav Namestnikov in Colorado. Ryan Strome on the Ranjerkoffs are some examples of the guys who bring something to the table, but take way more off of it.

Hockey needs to reassess how it hands out its participation awards. It would be healthy for the sport and would keep parity among salaries for the elite, the good, the average, and the bad, which would benefit the fans by maximizing their entertainment value. It would both externally and internally manage a salary cap, and there would still be actual playmakers in the game, not guys who are called playmakers who do not rank in the top 50 in active players for assists after a decade in the game. Those guys are coattails. Feel free to use that when discussing hockey. It’s on me- call it an assist.

Based on its revenues, hockey needs to be a sport of penny pinchers. It need not pay players that watch others players play hockey like any fan can, just from better seats. Paying people for shit that they don’t do is never a good idea. Hockey needs to reinvent how they credit assists, because not doing such will lead them into a greater financial crisis than they already face, which is the most dire of professional sports. Consider this my assist to the league.

*This piece was written without help, so it was unassisted, which was my goal.   

Introducing the Playoff Draft!

Introducing the Playoff Draft!

Want to make sports more exciting? Welcome to Playoff Drafts!

COVID brought all sorts of new ideas to sports. It may be the ultimate legacy to a botched public response to a global pandemic- new sports rules. Like? A baseball double header lasting 14 innings. If it goes extra innings? The inning starts with a guy on 2nd base. Everyone gets a DH, like the games are played in Oprah’s studio.

As a sport, baseball was way ahead of its rivals. They made fundamental short term changes to the game in order to have something that looked like a season. Football? Showed its true mentality. “SMASH! RUN!” was the Commissioners reaction grunt to how football would deal with fans and corona.

Two sports thought of a bubble. One thought of one without prostitutes, which may speak to the long run difference of being raised with one parent versus two.  

Wow…

But there was one change I would have liked to have seen be introduced in every sport. And not just this year, but going forward forever. That idea? Playoff drafts.

What’s a playoff draft? I’m not sure it even exists, so I get to totally create this new and brilliant idea. In theory, a playoff draft is a way to make playoff sports more interesting and exciting. How does it work? It goes like this:

Team A beats Team B in the playoffs. Fuck you, Team B, you pieces of shit! After A dispatches B, depending on the sport, Team A can harvest players off of Team B’s roster. How many players? Easy.

NBA? 1 guy. NHL? 2 guys. MLB? 2 guys. NFL? 3 guys.

A smart team would select other players to cover for weaknesses. Is your running back average? Steal the better one! Did a star player get hurt? Take the equivalent?

Think back to when the Jets beat anyone in the playoffs. In 2010 Tom Brady would have been a Jet. That’s a big wow factor, no?

The player additions are also a per round total. If your baseball team wins the play in and the wild card? You have 4 new guys on your team.

Forever? No. You get the player back on your team after the postseason.

Do you have to take other players? No, its up to your GM and coach.

You may say “Since we won, why would we take a player from the other team?” The better question is- Why wouldn’t you? What, you think by sharing how you’re coached a guy or two will have the keys to your weaknesses? They just lost to you, so if they couldn’t figure it out then, one player wont break a code in an extra week or two. The only thing he may figure out is that his regular coach sucks.

No, this is about rewarding winning. About adding excitement for the fan. About offering the best product that you possibly can. Plus now you get multi city appeal. Derek Jeter on the 2004 Red Sox? New York will be watching that World Series.

For the players, it’s like a free agency window. You get to check out other teams operations first hand. Players should love that because it will push wages up when they jump ship for teams that they liked.

What if there is an upset? Holy cow is that a game changer! Say The LA Lakers lose in the semi finals. Suddenly you have LeBron James or Anthony Davis coming off of your bench in the next round. That’s sudden interest in an underdog team. And the more LeBron, the more ESPN exists.

What about the guys that they replace? Those guys get put into suspended animation on your roster. New guy gets injured? Fuck off. You’re down one. You have to give the suspended animation list a positive sounding name so it doesn’t sound like a punishment. Call it the “Recent Reserves” list.

The 2020 New York Islanders and their awful power play beat the Capitals. Top 5 bust Michael Dal Colle goes on the Reserves list, add Alexander Ovechkin to your lineup. Power play issues solved, maybe the Islanders beat Tampa Bay and add Braden Point to their team at forward, and Victor Hedman on defense. But Tampa won….bet Josh Bailey wouldn’t be in their top ten players to poach list.

Reunited with Trotz? Power play solved.

Players you take in a playoff draft? They get playoff money shares, a title ring, but their name isn’t added to your team history or on the Stanley Cup. Their stats however are added to their personal history. Say Pete Alonso is taken by the Braves and hits 4 playoff home runs? That’s all Alonso stats, not the Braves.

The Celtics beat the Sixers? Suddenly backing up at point for the Celtics? Ben Simmons! Makes the game more interesting, and the team stronger. This year in the NBA Kawai Leonard would have been picked up by Denver. How would that change their approach in the next round?

Plus, the selection process itself would be super exciting. All sports leagues make a big deal about amateur drafts. Imagine the headlines of a professional draft? It would be interesting to see who would get picked. Sorry, choking ass Clayton Kershaw!

Whomp whomp!

And if you chose a player who was a bum? The second guessing would make a whole new world of sport talk what if’s. “Imagine how it would have turned out if the Yankees took Ichiro, Tim Hudson and Barry Zito in 2001? They win 6 World Series in a row!”

Think about the revenue opportunities available for sports teams. Sport leagues keep making money off of TV ratings. Why would they want to water down a product?

Could players throw games? Absolutely. That makes the selection more exciting- it’s the chance you take as a franchise. Plus, couldn’t a player throw a game in the playoffs anyway, or was John Starks that god awful bad versus Houston?

Reggie Miller was right

This idea is most definitely outside the box, and will insult sports purists. However, if would create dream teams in each sport, and that’s what fans want to see, right? So come on big leagues, time to grow a pair and start the playoff draft!

2019-2020 New York Islanders Retrospective- Why the Herd Mentality of #IslesKoolAid Fails

2019-2020 New York Islanders Retrospective- Why the Herd Mentality of #IslesKoolAid Fails

As we wrap up part three to the Islanders 2019-2020 retrospective and prospective, I’m going to fire up the couchbound GM in me and talk about potential deals that can be made, because if you look at the landscape of the NHL, there are deals to be made if only someone had the courage to do something unthinkable by Islander Kool Aid standards- like make a trade. You know, like Lou did at the deadline to get us to our first ECF ever, and he didn’t even trade for Tyler Kennedy!

Then I’m going to tell you how far distanced from reality the fans known as Islander Kool Aid #IslesKoolAid are. Which is a different planet.

TL;DR- the Islanders have 7 slots to fill to have a roster next year, and $9 million dollars in cap space, with three of those slots being Barzal, Toews, and Pulock. That’s the reality of the situation that #IslesKoolAid never gets their head around.

If you look at the NHL landscape, there are certainly haves and have nots. The New Jersey Devils fit in many have not boxes. Two of their needs are defensemen, as they only have 4 of them signed for the upcoming season. They also need about $5 million to reach the CAP FLOOR. No matter what the Devils do, they are going to suck next year. Why not help them suck less, get them to the cap floor, address their glaring hole in defense, and help yourself out at the same time, albeit temporarily?

Kyle Palmieri is a top 3 payer on the Devils. After the 2020-21 season he will be an unrestricted free agent, and he is NOT sticking around in New Jersey.

Deal one: Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk to NJ for Kyle Palmieri. The trade gets the Devils merely to the floor. It strengthens their defense with a pairing with immediate chemistry. It ties the Devils to this upcoming suck year with these guys, then a year until you free up nearly $12 million in cap space for the Debbies. Both defensive players are still productive.

For the Islanders, it frees $5 million of cap space. Considering Barzal’s present salary of roughly $900,000? There’s the finding for almost all of Barzals raise. And it gives them a season to decide what to do with Palmieri before he hits unrestricted free agency.

Deal two: This isn’t even my creation, it’s already being kicked around as a rumor out there. The RFA rights to Devon Toews, one of the two prospects of Walhstrom or Bellows, Josh Bailey or Jordan Eberle, and a 3rd rounder for Patrick Laine and a 2nd.

How does this work for both teams?

Winnipeg gets rid of a 30+ goal scoring future contract headache who is already making almost $7 million dollars and will want a raise after this season. Winnipeg gets a quick and offensive defender on a team with only 4 defenders under contract for 2020. They also get an experienced playoff forward to mix in with a group of mostly young skill forwards where Bailey can post another 20 meaningless playoff points or Eberle can add in a mix of .6ppg playoff production without being a centerpiece. 

Pricewise Winnipeg loses almost $7 million. They’ll take back the $5m of Bailey and end up around $4-5m for Toews, but they also get a future first round forward piece and a pick. The Isles get a few dollars in savings, but they also get a pick back because they may only have Laine for one season and need a reason to eat the risk of losing a talented player.

Next trade?

Eberle/Bailey to Colorado for the rights to Ryan Graves. Colorado has a need for skill forwards to advance in the playoffs. They also need some money to get to the cap floor. Graves is a restricted free agent that is coming into his own and will demand a contract, but unlike at forward, the Avs have way more bodies at defense than at offense. Trading from a strength to fill a weakness is smart.

For the Isles? Graves will cost about $2 million a year for 3 years- a 300% raise-  before they have to make a hard decision on him. This will give them some breathing room in the decision making realm of what to do with Mayfield and Pulock over the next two years.

At this point I already know that we’re talking fantasy GM stuff, because there is NO GM in the NHL that will make a trade for the overpaid, underproductive Josh Bailey. ZERO FOR THIRTY ONE. Why?

Trade Four: revisiting Andrew Ladd and Sebastian Aho for Zach Parise, with Minnesota eating the difference in salary for Ladd for the remainder of the Parise deal. How does this work? The Islanders get rid of Ladd and his $5.5m cap hit. Minnesota will only actually pay Ladd $9m, based on how Ladd’s deal was structured. That’s how they can float the $10 million they won’t be paying Parise to be an Islander, while the Islanders have to pay Parise $27.5 million to ride out that deal. That’s a fantastic cash savings for Minnesota- it’s thje ability to afford a different impact player. Ladd is likely to LTIR anyway, so it’s win- win for Minnesota. And Aho gives Minny depth at defense, which needs a defenseman right now, and 2 more the next season.

There is no cash savings here for the Islanders, its actually trading 3 bad years for 5 unknowns, but also a guy that scores 20 goals every year, will be a power play asset, and can take a 3rd line shift and work with a newly acquired 3C with no wings rather than be grinding for top 6 minutes and beatings.  That will prolong a career.

Next up? Offer Pietrangelo $10 million a year for 5 years. Give him a $5 million a year salary and $25m as a signing bonus.  Because it’s hard to say no to a check for $25 million.

How does that work? The new owners are clearly flush with cash. These are no longer the days of Cheap Charlie. The owners also would want to make a splash in time for a brand new arena, especially after going 0 for 2 on the last two big UFA’s on the market in Panarin and Snake. You have to step up for moments like a new arena opening, unless you want to do that without any shiny new toys. The cap hit is $10 million either way. But $5m in actual salary makes a player tradable if his decline comes on like a Subban. Pietrangelo isn’t likely to retire before 36 so there’s a small concern about reclaiming salary against the cap if he retires. And he’s be the most potent offensive force on the blueline since Mark Streit, but also plays defense.

Not happening with Bailey on your roster

So let’s look at the video game lineup:

On offense:

Laine Barzal Palmeiri – roughly $18m

Lee Nelson Beauvillier- roughly $15m

Parise Pageau Bellows/Whalstrom- roughly $11.5m

Johnston Cizikas Clutterbuk- roughly $8m

Komorov – $2.5m Dal Colle $700k

Total Cost- about $56m

Last year’s hit- $48m

2019-2020 Goals Scored: 160

2020-2021 Projected Goals (based on repeating 2019-2020 stats): 215

The forwards would actually cost a lot more than last years group. $8 million more. $6 million of that increase is the salary of Mathew Barzal. Palmieri somewhat amazingly makes less than what Bailey does. Laine makes about a million more than Eberle, although that’s going to change in 2021. Johnston makes less than Martin. Minnesota will be eating the salary difference between the exiting Ladd and what impact Parise would have on the salary cap. Whichever rookie F will make what Khunackl did. Brassard’s cap hit is gone. And that top 9 is lethal compared to what they had.

On Defense:

Pietrangelo Pulock – roughly $15m

Pelech Dobson – roughly $2.5m

Mayfield Graves- roughly $3.5m

Hickey $2.5m

Total Cost- $24.5M

Last years hit – about $23m.

2019-2020 Goals Scored: 28

2020-2021 Projected Goals (based on 2019-2020 stats): 43

This defense will cost about the same as least years defense, as the raise for Pulock would be made up of Pulock and Toews last years salaries, plus whatever small raise he gets to carry him to his UFA days.  Pietrangelo will not make $11.5m which is what Leddy and Boychuk make. Dobson Mayfield Pelech and Hickey already have contracts. Graves would come in around half of Greene’s $5m cap hit, as he is also an RFA.

At goal:

Sorokin – $2m.

Varlamov – $5m

Total Cost- $7m.

Last years cost- $8.3m.

This is already set in stone, which made it easy. This will change in the summer of 2021 if Sorokin is any good. The salary cap, however, will not.

Total cost for 2020-2021 Islanders? $88m. Which is why it cant be done, right? Not with a cap ceiling of $81.5m.

Now you have the wonderful option of how to compensate for being $7.5m over the cap. Do you trade Lee? Do you sign a different option than a sexy name like Pietrangelo? Do you give Pulock a one year deal at $3m? Bury deals in the AHL? Break up the rest of the best 4th line in hockey w less expensive options?

I started to feel bad that I spent time writing this, but not really, because there is a lesson to be learned in the exercise.

All the proposed trades offset salary for the Islanders, so new bodies aren’t the issue. The issue the Islanders face is the timing of the RFA deals that will add at least $8m to the payroll if you just keep Pulock and Barzal. If you want Toews? Y
ou’re adding $12m to keep the same team and eat up more cap space than you actually have. On a team that was a win now team.

That, and then you weigh the overpays that were justified at the time with stupid phrases like “yes it’s 6 years but it’s below market 6 years from now” and realize that those long term deals have impacts on the present frozen salary cap. In 2019-2020 Ladd and Bailey ate $10.5m for under 20 goals. That’s similar to what Tavares made last year. Which situation would you prefer?

And we know that the Islanders lack of ability to score goals against high octane teams- they would probably have lost a tight contest to Dallas just as well as they did to Tampa- means that they do need to make wholesale changes at F.

Islander fans like to shit on proposed trades, and thus will try to shit on my entire hypothetical, one where I knew going in that Lou would not trade away half a dozen guys from his roster, mostly because he doesn’t have to be that bold anymore for league wide recognition.

Actually, let me be the first to shit on the fans hearts for this upcoming season. The Islanders caught every break possible, including a global pandemic, just to LOSE in an Eastern Conference Final. Not the championship, but a pre-championship. They’re going to return with the same team? No, they’re not.

Larry Brooks recently wrote about how losing breeds character in a locker room. Well, Carolina went to the ECF against the Bruins last year. Carolina lost the series last year, and Boston lost the Cup. NEITHER team made a return to the ECF. Columbus made it past their first round ever last year. Not this time. Toronto didn’t even make the playoffs, technically. Henrik Lundqvist’s final season will be bought out because he could not carry the Rangers on his bi-curious back one last time. Stanley Cup champs St Louis are at home watching this year and are going to lose a key player. But the Islanders are the team that’s going to buck that trend? If you believe that, I have a big bag of dicks right over here for you to eat.

Keeping this roster together the same way as it was last year? DEFINITELY SHOULD NOT HAPPEN. It’s already changed at Goalie, and the limits of the salary cap and trade rumors says changes are far from over. So, think about what changes you want to see and where, because they are going to happen. You’re going to lose some favorite sons, or you’re not going back to an ECF. So decide what you like more- the players or the team, because only one of those matter.

Oh, we also have to take into account one more roster. The most unrealistic roster of all. The #IslesKoolAid roster.

What is the Kool Aid roster? Some fans seem to like individual players more than they like the team. The root for the opposite of Gestalt. Those fans do not want to see one single removal of any player on the roster. They want it to be just like last year, forever. This is the Garth Snow effect- when you lose so fucking much that you think it’s normal. IT’S NOT. It’s embarrassing. It’s the mentality of the bad fan. It leads to shit like adults waiting to wave at an airplane full of millionaires because fans are concerned that the rich folk will have hurt feelings.

The #islesKoolAid roster? Here we go. Barzal sees $8 million. I said $6m is a more than a fair price to pay the guy short term to eat the rest of his RFA and a little of his UFA, but we’re talking Kool Aiders here. Barzal needs to be paid like Crosby before he even plays in a final, nevertheless wins a cup.

Matt Martin? He can’t go to the Rangers! It’d hurt our feelings! Rangers are offering him $3m a year? Lets go the same as Cizikas and Clutterbuck and do $3.4m.

Brassard had some key plays in the playoffs. Yes, he’s in a career decline, but he can come back on the same bargain deal at $1.5m.

Can’t trade Ladd for Parise. Sure Parise had 25 goals in the shortened season, which is about what Ladd has scored for his entire Islanders career (39 goals in 4 seasons for $26.5 million dollars) , but Parise will be at the end of his career…just like Ladd. We can’t change what we know!

The one change? Khunackl can go. We have an offensive minded prospect to bury on the bottom 6 and the pressbox, just like first round pick Josh Ho Sang.

2020-2021 cap hit for Kool Aid forward roster: $62.5m

2019-202 cap hit for team: $48m for the same roster.

On defense?

We can’t let Toews OR Pulock walk. Pulock has become a top 2 defender and needs to be paid AT LEAST $6 million dollars just like Boychuk. And Toews? $5.5 million just like Leddy. Pelech is a restricted free agent next year, but lets not look down the road at next summer. Hand out that money now!

2020-2021 cap hit for Kool Aid roster: $29.5m

2019-2020 cap hit for the same roster: $23m.

And goal?

2020-2021 cap hit for Kool Aid goalies: $6m

How? Well, they like Greiss more than Varlamov because he was here longer. So the Islanders should resign Greiss- with a small raise of course- for $4m and work to trade the $20 million left remaining on Varlamov. That’s probably not impossible, but it creates a problem when Sorokin leaves after the 2020-2021 season because he was sold a false bill of goods regarding goaltender partnerships, and the Islanders need another goalie with nothing at all in the pipeline. Because Bridgeport develops players, yo.

2019- 220 cap hit for the roster: $8.3m.

The #IslesKoolAid cap hit? $98 million. For at best, more of the same. So who’s lineup looks crazy now? Fact is, by not changing anything, your fantasy roster is more expensive and less talented than the one I cobbled together, which added “all stars” and removed “all stains.”

In conclusion, #IslesKoolAid has pipe dreams of bringing a team back to hope it can do more of the same, which was lose. Me? I like that saying, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results each time.

My fantasy roster is improbably. But the wishes of #IslesKooAId? Batshit crazy.

2019-2020 New York Islanders Prospective- What’s Next?

2019-2020 New York Islanders Prospective- What’s Next?

Part one of the season retrospective looked at the season. Part two of this will look at the upcoming off season, because that’s where we are now, but this CAN NOT be where it ends. Islander fans are dying to know- what’s up next?

Let us not forget, this pas Islanders season was indeed a successful season, thanks to the COVID break.  But this team has a whole lot of work ahead of it. Think of the team as a muscle car. Muscle cars are fast and fun, but every one that’s ever worked on one knows that there’s always an upgrade for every friggin part of the car. I need a Holly carburetor and get me some Cragars!

The Tampa series showed the struggles that the Islanders have versus against high end talent on a night in, night out basis. It also highlighted the lack of high end talent on the team. In the face of such, some players vanished, while others showed how one dimensional they are. Very few manned up and found the sack to compete at a higher level. Kudos, Brock Nelson.

We can talk about roster signings and upgrades for days, and as my buddy @AmazingInsights points out, the salary cap is another player that needs to be coached in the new NHL. The Islanders are saddled with panicky Lou contracts and terrible Snow contracts, with very few bargains in their grasp.

So with that, with would I do if I were the GM and were dealing with reality? Not the #IslesKoolAid reality, where every player is both untradeable for the value to the team but also untradeable because you would need to trade the entire first line for fucking Bryan Smolinski? Think of it as a video game GM. You know, one that makes trades.

First move- See ya, Matt Martin. I enjoy Matt Martin. He’s a good Islander and a fun player to watch. But he hasn’t played a full season since 2016-2017, is often hurt, and will only wear more as he plays that aggressive style which averages 4 hits a game and also less games all the time. Plus, the NY Rangers are willing to offer him $3 million per? Take him. Piss away 2 salary slots- one for Martin, and one for the guy that spells Martin for 40 games. Martin had 5 playoff goals, which matched his entire regular season. And that surprising output made him…even for the playoffs, the first time he wasn’t a playoff negative in 5 seasons.

Speaking of, the “Best 4th line in Hockey” is just about done. Martin is gone this year. Next year Cizikas hits the UFA road, and in 2021 we see the winding down of the Clutterbuck contract. People call the 4th line the Islanders “Identity” line, which is true. That identity is a lack of scoring ability and nobody on the power play causing deficits to opponents. It’s just stabilizing a situation. Outside of the one year in his career that Casey Cizikas scored 20 goals- a feat Josh Bailey has yet to achieve- the 4th line scoring a goal is like finding a $100 on the street: a pleasant surprise, maybe a game changer, but incredibly inconsistent and unpredictable. 

The Islanders have what some would call a crisis of an RFA situation, but it reminds me of a saying from good ol’ “More World Series Rings than Fingers” Yogi Berra- if there’s a fork in the road, take it.

The Islanders have RFA situations with three players- Mathew Barzal, Devon Toews, and Ryan Pulock. The only must sign of the three is Barzal. He is the highest end talent of the team. And he needs his talent equivalent to show you ghow good he is, much like Braden Point and Steven Stamoks needed a Kucherov to show you how to put up 100 points a year.

Barzal is indeed an RFA and the Islanders- and the league- are in a cap crunch what with COVID and the frozen for three years’ salary cap. So first move? Barzal for the rest of his RFA, plus 2 years. Ideally one. That way he can be traded if he starts bitching, unlike the mistake they made with the snake. There is no need for one of those team crippling pay for stats deals that you see in Edmonton, Buffalo, Winnipeg and Toronto where you pay for hope for the future, rather than results.

As an aside, you don’t overpay for winning, either. Anytime a player asks for $10 million dollars when they win a title? The team stops winning titles. See Chicago, Los Angeles for examples. What about Pittsburgh, you say? If Cindy Crosby can make $8.7 per year to be the best player in hockey with 3 cups? So can your best player, and they should definitely make less. Barzal’s offer should be in the $5.5m to $6m a year range. Fair for a guy who did nothing in an Eastern Conference Final, in the first time he even got there.

Ryan Pulock? He is an important part of this team. But like every non-Hall of Famer, he too is replaceable. Also, he can get a deal that eats one more year of his restricted free agency. A one year deal? Think $3 million and if you have to, work on a trade to replace him. Why? I can answer that.

Why overpay for a guy that’s never been an all star, never won a cup, and was the equivalent of one trick pony Marc Andre Bergeron until Trotz showed up? Lets see if he can take the next step before you pay him for it. And if he won’t sign? Trade. Then sign proven commodity, two time all star, cup winning Alex Pietrangelo who has more career points per game than Josh Bailey- from the same draft class- as a defenseman. Alex made $6.5 million last year. He’s looking for $10 million. St. Louis didn’t pay him that. No one can afford to pay him that without moving a player or two off of their team thanks to the frozen cap.

If you’re telling me I get the choice of Toews and Pulock or Pietrangelo? I take Pete. Ideally? You have Pietrangelo AND Pulock, so that means Leddy’s got to go. With Boychuk. Each have 2 years left on their deals, but I’d prefer 4-7 years of Pietrangelo versus two years each of a plateaued Leddy and a Boychuk in decline.

So how do you move two, add one, keep one? By moving three. Devon Toews is shown the door.  In these playoffs he has shown me two things- he has a nose for offense, but a bigger nose for avoiding contact. He’s soft. Like Bailey soft. Also, just like Bailey, fans confuse liking a player because they play for your team with productivity. While in the regular season when you’re playing less successful teams, half of whom don’t even make the playoffs, Toews looks good. But what Toews has shown that when the going gets tough? The soft get wincing. The man shied away from so much contact that I thought HE was the bubble.

Toews provides offense, so the challenge for Lou is to find a guy with better speed, similar offense, and a defensive propensity to play a body instead of ice pucks to avoid a stick check. Like Pietrangelo. Maybe make a one year offer to Greene. Or maybe we wait for video game GM mode to show you my master plan.  

Plus, the Islanders can steal a page from Tampa Bay and grab a recently dejected defenseman on a super low risk contract with lots of experience who may have been overmatched as a 2 or a 4 but would fir in smoothly as a 6 or 7. On the market this year are Kevin Shattenkirk, Zack Bogosian, and very possibly Marc Staal and Brendan Smith of the New York Douchebags. The last two would make less than Noah Dobson and could be a way cheaper injury replacement than Thomas Hickey and the mystery of how he got a 4 year $10m deal out of Lou.

Are you saying that you would trade half the defense off of a conference finals team?

Yes, yes I am.

Boychuk? Hardly played. Greene made him look one dimensional. Toews? Guy has as many hits as Enuff Z’Nuff, and avoided more contact that a double bagged boner. Leddy? Is he getting any better?

Plus, Dobson needs a spot. He’s clearly ready for the NHL. Sits for 5 months then steps into a game 6 against the eventual Eastern Conference champs and looks like he belongs? Yeah we can move three guys for an internal replacement and an external replacement. And save money.

Some other players to consider selling high?

Jordan Eberle comes to mind. His 15 playoff points (5-9-14) put him tied with teammate Anthony Beauvillier (9-5-14) in points, plus he had the biggest goal of the postseason. But he makes a lot of money, is nearing the end of his prime, and his regular season wasn’t spectacular. He would prosper in an environment that didn’t ask him to play a complete two way game and could skate more openly, Western Conference style. Also, in my opinion 1.25 goals a playoff series is awfully terrible for a top six forward. If you can’t go more than one goal a series, you have issues. Speaking of….

Josh Bailey. 20 playoff points looks great until you see that only two were goals. One came in game one of the “real” playoffs versus Washington, which was the biggest goal of his 12 year unaccomplished career. The other was an empty netter against Washington when the series was already decided. However, the Islanders also played Florida in a best of 5 that went 4 games, a best of 7 that went 7 games versus Philadelphia, and a best of 7 that went 6 games versus Tampa where he scored ZERO GOALS PER SERIES. 17 games, nothing. And don’t forget about how he singlehanded lost the series to Tampa with his unprecedented worst shot in hockey history. Tampa Bay’s goalie Andrei Vasilevsky looked thoroughly confused as to how that shot wasn’t in the goal, and where the puck was exactly.

100% Baileys fault

Some team may see 20 playoff points and go “ELITE! WE NEED THAT!” Awesome. Take the $5 million off the cap that will be replaced with at the least $900,000 of Oliver Whalstrom or Keifer Bellows. Which is how you would look to improve a top six. Remember, Bellows was on a 20 goal pace if had had 80 games.

But which of the 31 other teams GM’s would see a 20 point playoff and overlook the game 5 where he played 30 minutes of ice time without a shot on goal or hit? Will they overlook the over a month where he didn’t score a goal against a goalie? And will they say “This guy rides coattails like he’s a vice president?”

The thing Islanders fans say about Bailey is that he’s elite, but that also in a trade he would return a 6th round pick. They’re half right.

Islander fans have an issue of falling too in love with their players. That’s a bad idea. The Isles had a season where they’re seen as a winning team. On a winning team, your 6 is bad teams 4. Or in the case of the 2014-2015 Islanders, Chicago’s 6 was the Islanders 1. Mayfield now is Chicago’s Leddy then. Is it time to maybe make a Mayfield someone elses Leddy? What’s a fair trade assessment for the next 3 years of prime Scott Mayfield? A 1st round pick? A pair of seconds? Pick and a prospect? All of those options are ok, because it gives the Islanders something they need. A future. Why’s that?

Because for everything Lou has done that’s been great, there is one glaring hole. The prospect system. Which harkens back to a piece I had written called something like “How does Brett Thompson still have a Fucking Job?”

I ask this because I wonder, how is the development of Kieffer Bellows, Oliver Wahlstrom, Simon Holstrom, Otto Koivula, Sebastian Aho, and Jakub Skarek going in the AHL? I don’t have to wonder statistically, because from all the forwards and defensemen, they have combined for 3 goals in the NHL. That makes Michael Dal Colle career 7 NHL goals look prolific, not to mention Josh Ho Sang’s almost unmatchable 7-17-24 in 53 games, stats in line with the first two seasons of Josh Bailey.

Going back to 2012 (!) the top three highest NHL game playing offensive producing Islander draft picks?

1)Barzal

2) Beauvilier

3) Ho Sang

Want better than that? 2009 and 2010. 3 in a decade, folks. Two worth a shit.

Ideally al five prospects become NHL impact players, but what are the odds? Zero percent. So the upcoming training camp? Time to decide who gets a job, and who get a new organization to call home.

What’s next? The last part of this analysis will be the fantasy GM section of the piece, with the bonus section on how unrealistic #IslesKoolAid are regarding the 2020-2021 Islanders, and the awful reality of heading into Belmont with no shiny new toys.