The Curious Case of Garth Snow And The Fresh Prince
By Brett Malamud
Fans of the New York Islanders were anticipating a big trade deadline day for their club on Monday. The team sits in third place in the Metropolitan Division, now seven points behind the rival New York Rangers, with three games in hand. All along, Islanders general manager Garth Snow remained adamant in keeping his team’s first round picks, as well as his top four prospects — forwards Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier, Michael Dal Colle and Joshua Ho-Sang — in any deal for a potential unrestricted free agent forward. Snow’s goal was to add a depth forward without giving up any major piece. When the day was all said and done, the Islanders finished a quiet trade deadline day by making just one NHL deal, acquiring prospect forward Shane Prince and a 2016 seventh round pick in exchange for a 2016 third round pick.
Shane Prince for me is a familiar face. As a Binghamton University student, I have had the opportunity to watch Prince many times with the Binghamton Senators. The 23-year-old is extremely quick and has great hands. He reminds me of a young Kyle Okposo, who was projected to be a second liner, and that is where Prince is projected to wind up as well (Okposo ended up a first liner, and Prince could end up one too if his development pans out). Prince is also a versatile forward who can play both at the center and wing positions, which should help the Islanders going forward. It’s also being reported out of Ottawa that the Senators were actually seeking a second round pick for Prince, and settled for the Islanders third round pick (the Islanders actually do not have a second round pick in 2016, as it was traded in the deal for Johnny Boychuk at the start of last season).
Over the last week, the Islanders were linked to numerous names on the trade market, such as Andrew Ladd and former Islander P.A. Parenteau. The Islanders certainly spoke to the Winnipeg Jets at some point this season about Ladd while shopping defenseman Travis Hamonic, after he requested a trade to a team located near his home in Western Canada. However, the asking price was far too high for Snow’s liking. So rumors swirled all week of a Parenteau-Isles reunion. It was later found out that Toronto was seeking a second round pick, a price that Snow wasn’t going to pay. According to Newsday’s Arthur Staple, Snow didn’t even have Parenteau on his radar, leading to speculation that Toronto started the rumor to attempt to start a bidding war. By the 3 p.m. deadline, a Parenteau deal was not made, and the high asking price was certainly the reason why any deal including him didn’t come to fruition. All in all, the Snow stuck to his guns and kept his key pieces on the roster, which is certainly a win for New York.
Many had high expectations for the Islanders this trade deadline to upgrade in a big way. I’d agree that the Isles are one major piece away from being a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. They failed to acquire that big piece, and the fans are certainly letting the team hear it on social media. As for the rookie acquisition, Prince has just three goals and 12 points in 42 games this season for the Senators. He hasn’t been able to get it together this season, even though he was so dominant in the minor leagues (he had 28 goals and 65 points in 72 games for Binghamton in 2014-15). He also couldn’t progress up Ottawa’s lineup, remaining stuck on the team’s fourth line.
Of course this raises the question: “Where does Shane Prince even fit in to the Islanders roster?”
I believe that Prince could see time on the second and third lines, with Mikhail Grabovski still out till the weekend. Prince may see time on the second line with Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo, or with third-liners Brock Nelson and Anders Lee. He should not be on the team’s fourth line, as the phenomenal chemistry between Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin isn’t worth tinkering with.
Not to bail out Garth Snow, but trades are a two-way street, and the other team does have to accept the deal as well. Many people forget that. In fact, with high asking prices, it’s tough for teams to decide to settle and accept deals for below a player’s value (ex. Drouin, Yakupov, and Eriksson staying put), especially in a high-pressure situation such as a trade deadline day. We may never hear what deals were in the works for Garth Snow on Monday afternoon, but I can assure you that although he only made one NHL deal on deadline day, Snow wasn’t twiddling his thumbs all day. Some deals just don’t work out.
No, this deal doesn’t make the Islanders an elite team. We know that. They got a young prospect who will make an impact as a depth forward. No, I do not believe that the Isles are a cup contender this year either, but they should be able to get past the first round. Kyle Okposo is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year, and while reports say that he’s destined to leave the Islanders, never say never.
The same reports came out last season about defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy, before they were signed to long-term extensions. Garth Snow keeps his organization tight lipped, so who really knows what Snow is going to do? The team will also have to re-sign pending UFAs Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin. It’s probably more likely that the team re-signs Nielsen and Martin rather than Okposo, but again, anything is possible.
With rising prospects Barzal, Beauvillier, Dal Colle and Ho-Sang, the Islanders find themselves with a bright future. In fact, Dal Colle and Barzal may be on the team come September, and Ho-Sang may start the season in Bridgeport.
If they were to deal any of their current players for an impact player such as Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, or Max Pacioretty (Again, just examples of the kind of player that may be available), the Islanders would become a contender. The Oilers seem like a likely candidate in that department, knowing that a Travis Hamonic trade to a Western Canadian team may involve Edmonton. The Islanders would obviously inquire about Hall but Eberle has been linked to them as well. If Edmonton came to the Islanders on draft day and offered Taylor Hall for the Islanders’ 2016 first round pick, Anders Lee, and Travis Hamonic, would you do it if you were Garth Snow? Now Edmonton fans, before you freak out, realize that GM Peter Chiarelli’s ship can’t sink any deeper. The Oilers would get their defenseman in Hamonic, a young forward in Lee, and another first round pick, plus free up $6 million a year for four years in Hall’s contract. That’s a lot to spark a quick turn around. From the Islanders’ perspective, imagine paying for Hall in the place of Okposo, letting him walk, and freeing up room for Ryan Pulock and Dal Colle/Barzal. It’d be a different team than the one out on the ice now. This may not just be a trade for EA Sports, but also for the Islanders and Oilers to examine.
But that’s talk for the draft, which is still 114 days away. For now, the Islanders acquired a potential top-six forward in Prince, and didn’t have to give up much to get him. They also didn’t break the bank for a pending UFA. Yes, Prince is having an off year, which drove his price down, but again, he’s very talented. If he comes around, he’ll be a great addition to this Islanders team who needs to shoot the puck more. I won’t call this trade a “steal” but rather a very good trade.
Brett Malamud is an English Rhetoric Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy