If William Shakespeare was writing an article about the Islanders at the trade deadline, his title would be “Much Ado About Nothing.” While fans were hoping for a blockbuster move at the trade deadline, the Islanders made only two minor deals.
The bigger transaction was acquiring forward Shane Prince and a seventh-round pick in the 2016 draft from Ottawa in exchange for a third-round pick in this year’s draft. General manager Garth Snow also dealt minor league forward Taylor Beck to the Avalanche in exchange for forward Marc-Andre Cliche.
Prince, 23, is in his first season with the Senators. In 42 games this season, he has three goals and 12 points and has a plus-two rating. Ottawa selected Prince in the second round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Last season, he had his best in the AHL, scoring 28 goals and 65 poins for the Binghamton Senators.
Prince will add depth to the Islanders lineup this season. He will be a restricted free agent this summer.
The Isles acquired Beck from Toronto as part of the Michael Grabner deal last summer. He appeared in two games with the Islanders this season and accumulated two penalty minutes.
Cliche played for the Avalanche for the last two seasons but has spent the all of the 2015-16 campaign with San Antonio of the AHL. In 151 career games with the Avs, the 28-year-old native of Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, scored three goals and 14 points. He was originally drafted by the New York Rangers in the 2nd round of the 2005 NHL Draft. Cliche is expected to be assigned to the Isles’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.
As expected, the Islanders did not trade away pending UFAs Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen and they did not deal defenseman Travis Hamonic who had asked to be sent to a team closer to his home in western Canada. They also did not pull off a major trade for a top-six forward or a top-four defenseman who would have been a major difference maker during the playoff push.
Snow will now have to decide whether or not he can re-sign Okposo and Nielsen before they become free agents this summer. The organization has cap room to work with, but must make a determination as to whether Okposo and Nielsen are worth the money they could command on the open market.
It is likely that Snow will look to trade Hamonic before next summer’s draft. The Isles lack of depth on defense and injuries at that position made it tough to deal the young defenseman at the deadline. Snow feels he will get a better offer for Hamonic during the summer than he would have at the this week.
This summer will be a time of transition for the Islanders’ organization. New majority ownership may take a different approach to free agency and the way the Isles build their roster.
As for this season, the Islanders will finish make the season with the players already on their roster. The Islanders are a good hockey team, but they will not be considered one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference. The team hopes to win a playoff series for the first time since 1993 and go on a lengthy playoff run.