The New York Islanders and Rangers don’t pull off trades too often.
Since the Islanders entered the NHL in 1972, the two teams have paired up for just three transactions.
Two of those came in 1972 before their rivalry ever began. The Rangers sent Ron Stewart to Long Island for cash after they delivered two 1973 draft picks to ensure the Islanders wouldn’t pick certain players during that year’s expansion draft.
The third came in 2010 when the Islanders sent Jyri Niemi to the Rangers for a sixth-round draft pick.
Preparing for the 2019 NHL Draft, the Islanders and Rangers might want to dust off the relationship and give it another go.
The rebuilding Rangers are on the verge of catapulting well ahead of schedule this week.
After trading for Winnipeg Jets star defenseman Jacob Trouba to bolster the defense, the Blueshirts will draft either Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko with the No. 2 pick of the draft on Friday night.
With the Rangers’ talent pool improving and expanding, there could be two big-money signings on the verge of taking place.
Since Trouba is a restricted free agent, the Rangers will have to offer him a contract between $7.5 million and $8 million to ensure he stays at Madison Square Garden.
That will cut away nearly half of their remaining $16 million in cap space, which would take them out of the running for star free-agent winger Artemi Panarin. The former Blackhawk and Blue Jacket will likely get a deal in the neighborhood of $11 million and the Rangers are considered one of the favorites alongside the Florida Panthers.
To stay in the Panarin hunt, the Rangers would have to shed some salary and a key man to help do so could be veteran winger Chris Kreider.
The 28-year-old has been listed as a trade candidate in multiple reports over the past month. He has one year left on his contract, providing a $4.6 million cap hit next season.
Kreider has had some of his most productive seasons as of late, recording 28 goals in two of the last three years. In the four seasons in which he’s played in at least 70 games beginning in 2014, he’s put up at least 20 goals every time.
As he enters the tail end of his prime, however, he doesn’t necessarily fit the Rangers’ plans of getting younger. Shedding that contract will also be a huge step to free enough space to make a serious run at Panarin, who is also a left winger.
The Islanders could be a good match for Kreider considering they are a few pieces away from becoming serious Stanley Cup contenders.
Kreider would provide the Islanders with the scoring depth they so desperately need while providing sizable upgrades at left wing over the likes of Tom Kuhnhackl and Leo Komarov behind Anders Lee.
The Islanders could slot Kreider in as a second-line left winger to flank Brock Nelson and either Josh Bailey or Jordan Eberle.
Granted, that could change if the Islanders go out and pull off some big moves that could yield the likes of Matt Duchene in free agency or Mike Hoffman on the trade market.
With Kreider’s contract expiring after next season, the price should not be too high. Considering the Rangers are getting the much-needed cap relief, the Islanders could offer one of their two second-round draft picks this year to help get the ball rolling.
Would the New York teams be willing to hook up for a trade that would help one another? History suggests no. But it should be something both teams consider on draft night this Friday.