Grading The New York Islanders Non Existent Trades On The Deadline

Islanders Trade Deadline

As the New York Islanders are having a not-so-good season after being a contender only six months ago, many expected them to make some moves by the deadline. That did not happen. Actually, the only moves they did were signing Zach Parise and Cal Clutterbuck to contract extensions. Fans were expecting at least one of them to get traded. Now, the reason why their general manager didn’t trade away anyone is what they’ve been saying all season long. They believe in the team they have now. But was it the best thing Lou Lamoriello could’ve done on Monday? A lot of people think it was not.

Evaluating The Islanders Trade Deadline No-Moves

The biggest question for Isles fans after 3 P.M on Monday was “Where are the Islanders trades?”. The answer to that question came quickly: they didn’t make any. As soon as the insiders started saying that, the world collapsed in the Islanders area of social media. And to be fair, it’s understandable. The team is not doing well and hasn’t been for the entire season. But who could the Islanders trade that would not hurt the team too much and would get a good return for? That’s what will be looked into now.

Semyon Varlamov (G)

As said on the analysis before the deadline, Semyon Varlamov was the Islanders player with the highest value on the market. That’s not much on his numbers nor performance, it’s on the position he plays. Goaltenders are a huge need this year. Lou Lamoriello himself admitted there was plenty of interest in the goalie. But why didn’t he get moved then? Well, that’s actually a simple answer: it’s not the right timing.

When looking at the Islanders system as a whole, it becomes clear why Lamoriello didn’t move Varlamov. The Islanders don’t have another NHL-caliber goaltender to help Ilya Sorokin. Down with their AHL team are Jakub Skarek, Cory Schneider and Ken Appleby. None of them have numbers that could lead one to believe they’d do well in the NHL.

Besides all that, Varlamov is a huge reason why Sorokin left the KHL to finally sign with the Islanders back in 2020. He is still a great mentor for the younger player and Sorokin has expressed his love for the veteran multiple times. There was simply not a good enough reason to separate a duo that is working. The veteran still has one year on his $5M contract after this season and teams will likely still be interested as the offseason hits. His trade will come but not now.

No trade grade: A

Cal Clutterbuck (F)

Now comes the polemic part. The Islanders should have traded Cal Clutterbuck. But his contract extension isn’t as bad as people are painting it around the internet. Here’s the reason why: Clutterbuck is a huge part of the Islanders’ defence. “But he’s a forward” yes, he is but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a way better defensive forward than a lot of the players on the team. The so-called “identity line” hasn’t produced much and it’s understandable to be upset.

However, offence is not expected from Clutterbuck and it hasn’t been for a while. Probably since he got drafted. The 34-year-old is a shutdown forward and he does that job well. That’s likely what got the attention of multiple teams in the league that need someone like him. Lamoriello got calls from many teams on him but rejected all offers to extend the player for two more years. He did so because he sees the importance of Clutterbuck to the Islanders system.

No trade grade: C

Scott Mayfield (D)

Another player that could’ve been moved is Scott Mayfield. There were plenty of rumours surrounding him and a lot of speculation. Multiple teams could use a player like Mayfield on their team but not many were willing to pay what he would cost. However, that doesn’t mean he can’t – or won’t – be moved during the offseason. It just wasn’t the right timing. Mayfield is no longer a young player but on a team that has Andy Greene and Zdeno Chara, his speed and game view are welcomed. He has a year left on his team-friendly deal and then goes on to become an unrestricted free agent. However, his $1.45M cap hit makes him a good trade asset for the offseason.

No trade grade: A

What Should Be The Goal Next

Lamoriello said during his interview on Monday that the rest of the season is a trial run. Whoever works out, worked out. Whoever didn’t… well, no one knows but given the context, one can imagine they will get moved. That means the offseason will be much different from the deadline. The senior GM said in an interview during the game against the Senators on Tuesday that when a team makes a trade, they have to make sure to have a player to replace the subtraction. He’s not wrong. But he also said that in defence and offence a team can always improve. If the offer is right and fits what the Islanders need, Lamoriello will take it. Now, onto what the goal should be for them:

Make room for prospects and younger players. The Islanders are getting older and they don’t seem to want to make some space for their younger people. They have Oliver Wahlstrom and Kieffer Bellows itching for bigger roles. Aatu Raty is just waiting to come to North America. Samuel Bolduc and Robin Salo are two defencemen that have more than earned their spots in the big league. Now, all that needs to happen is to make space for them and stop being scared to make changes.

The Draft Picks Dilemma

The bonus addition to this piece is a quick note on the draft. The Isles need to stop trading draft picks like they have the greatest prospect pool in the world. They need to start adding more prospects as soon as possible if they want to continue being a top team for years to come. This year’s first-round pick cannot be traded away and if they can try to get another one in the offseason, that would be ideal.

Main photo:
Embed from Getty Images