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Pantorno: Islanders better off not trading for Matt Duchene

With Matt Duchene finally dealt from the Avalanche to Ottawa, the Isles were lucky not to have traded for him earlier.
Garth Snow did the right thing in hanging on to his prospects and not dealing them for Matt Duchene. (Photo: Getty Images)

Whether it was trading away Zdeno Chara, Roberto Luongo, Jason Spezza, Bryan McCabe or Todd Bertuzzi, the New York Islanders built a reputation for coming out on the bad end of the trade market over the last few decades. General manager Garth Snow has attempted to buck that trend thanks to the acquisitions of Nick Leddy, Johnny Boychuk and Jordan Eberle over the past three years, but it might be a trade that didn't go through that could be one of the most memorable of his tenure here. 

Over the summer and into the early parts of the 2017-18 season, the Islanders were looking to add to their offensive arsenal despite nabbing Eberle from the Edmonton Oilers for Ryan Strome. Eberle was expected to be the star first-line winger that John Tavares was missing, but that still left something to be desired on the lower lines, especially at second-line center. 

Duchene, at the time, seemed like the perfect fit. Scoring 20-plus goals in five of his first eight full NHL seasons, the 26-year-old playmaker who desperately wanted out of Colorado would have brought some much-needed depth to the Islanders' scoring lines. Only three players scored more than 20 goals last season, two of them being on the first line in Tavares and Anders Lee. 

The two sides held talks leading up to the NHL draft in late June and Avalanche GM Joe Sakic named his price. If the Islanders wanted Duchene, they'd have to give up defenseman Travis Hamonic, goalie prospect Ilya Sorokin, prospect Mathew Barzal and a first-round draft pick. 

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Snow declined, not wishing to part ways with Barzal and shortly after traded Hamonic to the Calgary Flames. 

His refusal has worked out well for the Islanders as Barzal is quickly developing into one of the game's most explosive rookies. His 13 points rank second among all first-year players behind Arizona Coyotes phenom Clayton Keller and he's coming off a huge Sunday night in which he set a franchise rookie record with five assists against who else? The Avalanche. 

The 20-year-old is just the sixth player in Islanders history to record five helpers in a game, joining Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin, Stefan Persson, Brent Sutter and Pat LaFontaine. That's some pretty good company to be in. 

Not to mention Sorokin could be the goalie of the future depending on his development as Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss have not shown that they can consistently be called upon as the Islanders' stalwart in goal.

Sorokin is 12-5-2 with a 1.78 GAA with CSKA Moscow in the KHL this season but has a pedestrian .916 save percentage.

During Sunday's 6-4 victory over the Avalanche in Brooklyn, the Islanders saw Duchene leave the ice during the first period as he finally got his wish of being traded. Sakic dealt him to the Ottawa Senators as a part of a three-team trade. 

The Avalanche got what they wanted in four prospects and three draft picks while the Senators sent Kyle Turris to the Nashville Predators. 

No real losers in that deal. 

And no real losers in Brooklyn, either as Islanders fans will have to find something else to complain about amidst their team's 8-5-1 start to the season that has them sitting in fourth place within a very competitive Metropolitan Division.

 

 
 
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