Before we get started here, let's make something clear: The New York Islanders probably won't get Ottawa Senators stud defenseman Erik Karlsson.
They might not even inquire about him given general manager Garth Snow's inaction during his defense's heinous struggles this season. New York might very well be one of the 10 teams Karlsson put on his no-trade list, too. Which would make all of this for naught.
But the Islanders need a shot in the arm on defense as their blue line is the worst in the NHL, allowing 214 goals in just 58 games.
In terms of speculation, why not shoot for the stars, right?
The Senators made the first big move leading up to the NHL's Feb. 26 trade deadline, shipping defenseman Dion Phaneuf to the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night. It could be the first of a firesale for the team that is second-worst in the Eastern Conference; a swift fall from grace after making the Eastern Conference Finals last season.
Karlsson, who hits free agency after next season, is expected to test the market where he'll fetch a big paycheck considering he's one of the best defensemen in hockey. Over his first nine years in the NHL, the 27-year-old has won a pair of Norris Trophies as the league's top defenseman and made five All-Star Games. He's one of the best two-way defensemen in the NHL, recording four seasons of 65 points or more.
So if the Senators do in fact believe that they won't be able to retain the Swede in free agency this offseason, they might be aggressive on the market and try to get a solid return for him.
This is where the Islanders could come in as a potential match on the trade market.
Ottawa would likely be looking for future assets to help rebuild its roster whether it be in the form of prospects or draft picks. However, a return could be limited if Karlsson is looked upon as just a rental. It would be a demoralizing transaction should the team that gives up a sizable bounty for the defenseman not be able to re-sign him during the offseason.
Still, the Islanders have plenty of picks and prospects to put on the table should Snow miraculously engage in talks with the Senators.
New York has a pair of first and second-round picks in the 2018 draft, one each coming from the Calgary Flames in the Travis Hamonic deal.
In terms of young players, Mathew Barzal is untouchable. But the Islanders still have the likes of Anthony Beauvillier, Josh Ho-Sang, Scott Mayfield and Adam Pelech to include in a package deal. Deeper in the farm system, Kiefer Bellows, Devon Toews, Mitch Vande Sompel and Linus Soderstrom would likely come up on Ottawa's radar as well.
Given their team needs, Ottawa would likely call for at least one of the Islanders' young defensemen and possibly a goalie considering Craig Anderson is 36 years old and backup Mike Condon has struggled. The Islanders have two highly-rated goalies for the future in Soderstrom and Ilya Sorokin, but could offer Jaroslav Halak who will be a free agent himself after this season. While I wouldn't expect the Islanders to part with Toews, Vande Sompel could be included.
So for argument's sake, here is what a deal for Karlsson could possibly look like for the Islanders:
D- Erik Karlsson
F- Josh Ho-Sang
D- Mitch Vande Sompel
G- Linus Soderstrom or Jaroslav Halak
2018 1st-round draft pick
It would be a steep price for the Islanders to pay and it could come back to bite them if Karlsson wanted no part in staying on Long Island, but while the team is still in playoff contention and has to continue showing John Tavares that they want to be in a "win-now" mode, it might be a necessary risk to take.
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