There is cautious optimism surrounding the New York Islanders during the offseason.
That hasn’t happened much over the past 25 years or so.
After missing the postseason for the first time since 2014, the Islanders are about to become engaged in one of the most important summers in franchise history. With their star captain, John Tavares set to become a free agent next summer, this is one of general manager Garth Snow’s last chances to show his star that he is committed to building a winning team.
Islanders fans might have built there hopes up sky high for the coming days too as TSN’s Darren Dreger told TSN 1050 Toronto on Monday that New York is “going to do something big in the next week here. And by big, I mean they’re going to add an offensive piece.” (h/t Chris Nichols, FanRag Sports)
Translation: A top-six forward that can bring an added scoring punch to Tavares and Anders Lee.
There are already some solid names being floated around the trade market, so here is a look at who could be wearing blue and orange come the 2017-18 season:
This isn’t a new name that’s floated around the Islanders.
Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene has been linked with New York for the better part of a year now as the young playmaker has seemingly worn out his welcome in Denver.
While he is coming off a down season in which he recorded 18 goals and 23 assists in 77 games, Duchene is just 26 years old and has shown offensive firepower earlier in his career. In 2015-16, he hit the 30-goal mark for the first time in the NHL.
A speedster with the promise of 30-plus goals on the right wing would create a pretty imposing first line alongside Lee and Tavares. However, Josh Ho-Sang has shown early on in his NHL career that he can become one of the most explosive forwards in the league, which means Duchene could headline the second unit.
NHL sources told league insider Jimmy Murphy that forward Ryan Strome and defenseman Calvin de Haan could be involved, but it would likely take more than that to come away with Duchene.
Given the Edmonton Oilers’ embarrassment of riches, right winger Jordan Eberle has fallen by the wayside behind Leon Draisaitl and it’s all but guaranteed that he will be traded this summer.
This is where the Islanders must pounce. The Oilers are in need of defensive help and Travis Hamonic could be a part of the right package in order to get Eberle.
Despite being only 27 years old, Eberle will be entering his eighth NHL season and a change of scenery in which he’s given a larger role could work wonders. He’s been unable to regain the form that saw him score a career-best 34 goals in 2011-2012, though a lot of it has to do with relegating his role to the younger stars that have made their way through the organization like Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Draisaitl.
Playing alongside Tavares could rekindle his career after he scored just 20 goals last year, his lowest total since 2012-13.
The asking price for Eberle would most likely be less than Duchene, meaning Hamonic and possibly a draft pick would do enough to get the Edmonton winger.
Arthur Staple of Newsday reported that the Islanders are in talks with the Montreal Canadiens for center Alex Galchenyuk, who saw his spot with the Original Six club threatened after they traded for Tampa Bay Lightning youngster Jonathan Drouin.
It’s hard to believe that Galchenyuk is only a year older than Drouin but has two more years experience. The Habs center is preparing for his sixth NHL season after making his debut at just 18 years old.
The 23-year-old’s presence on the trade market is a surprising one given his development. Galchenyuk saw his scoring totals increase in each of his four years from nine, to 13, then 20 followed by 30 in 2015-16.
A knee injury stymied his progress last season, but he still managed to record 17 goals and 27 assists in just 61 games.
While he was stashed on Montreal’s third line at times, Galchenyuk would quickly be put into second-line duties with the Islanders while centering Andrew Ladd and either Josh Bailey or Jason Chimera.
Once again it would take defense to acquire Galchenyuk as one should expect Hamonic and de Haan’s name to be involved.