We looked at some of the rumors circulating prior to the NHL Draft, where it is expected there will be some actions. Many teams are looking to move up in the draft or some are looking to get a first round pick since they have traded it away in a previous deal. Add to this, the fact the free agency pool is not deep and that some teams are near the cap on their roster salary cap, you have a perfect storm of many changes leading to the NHL Entry Draft in Sunrise, Florida.
Reports that Kyle Okposo could be on the trading block are surfacing from Newsday reporter Arthur Staples. We also keep an eye on who is in on the Patrick Sharp rumors and if the Leafs are not better by just trading Kessel in a real hockey deal.
Okposo on the trading block
There is a new target for teams ahead of the NHL Entry Draft this year. Arthur Staple from Newsday has reported that scoring right wing Kyle Okposo could be available for a trade to a team in need of offense. Staples reports the name came from two league sources outside the Isles organization. This is a bit of surprise considering the success the Islanders had in the past season.
In the case of Okposo who is coming out of his two best consecutive seasons, general manager Garth Snow is looking for a first round pick. Snow who will selecting at no.72 next weekend will be looking for a deal of value where he can get a higher pick and preferably in the first round. For Snow it is only the second time and the first time since 2007 that the New York Islanders are not selecting amongst the top 15. Snow has indicated he will want to select higher than 72 so a trade will definitely be the way to proceed for the Islander general manager.
Okposo’s current salary is 2.8M but he is due for a major raise and he has only one year left on his contract. His current deal with the Islanders is a 5 year 14 million dollars. Although is low cap hit makes it attractive to the cap strapped teams, next year may be an issue once his contract is due. Staples reported this with regards to Okposo: “Both sources indicated that nothing appears to be imminent. But with eight teams already committed to at least $63 million on a projected $71-million salary cap for 2015-16, player moves could come fast and furious during draft weekend, and Okposo’s extremely modest $2.8-million cap hit could be enticing.” Okposo recorded 18 goals this past season and 27 last year compiling two seasons worth 120 points.
Okposo’s eye injury may scare some teams away but the right winger has an exceptional talent and will definitely attract teams needing more scoring, which could be make it interesting on the draft floor. Staple also reports Michael Grabner, who is also in the final year of his contract, is actively being shopped. In fact the Islanders will have four players from their core who have one year left on their contracts at the beginning of the next season; Okposo, Grabner, Matt Martin and Frans Nielsen.
Who’s in on Patrick Sharp
Teams are lining up for Patrick Sharp and general manager is expected to trade his veteran forward in the coming week ahead of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft starting next Friday. According to Larry Brooks from the New York Post, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Islanders are in on the negotiations for Sharp. The Penguins are keen on wanting to add a scoring winger either with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. The same goes with Garth Snow and adding a scoring winger with center John Tavares.
Preference to Kessel gone
Steve Simmons from the Toronto Sun reports that the Maple Leafs could be more inclined to have Phil Kessel gone than Dion Phaneuf. Simmons declared this in his Sunday editorial: “What I’m hearing: Brendan Shanahan doesn’t love Phil Kessel and neither does new coach, Mike Babcock. They want him gone. But they want to make a hockey trade, not make Kessel an expensive garage-sale item.”
There is no doubt both players will bring interest from other teams on the eve of the NHL Entry Draft on Saturday, but head coach Mike Babcock and President of Hockey Operations, Brendan Shanahan may want to keep one player of the two – preferably Phaneuf and see if they can have him properly coached and have a good season next season.
What’s the return for Markstrom or Lack
That is the question. What do you get for a goalie who are to assume the role of backup next season but have the potential to develop into a no.1 goalie eventually. Jim Benning faces this dilemma right now and as reported a couple weeks ago, and made official by the Vancouver Canucks general manager. At that time Jim Benning made it clear he didn’t want to start the season with Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom with the big team. And forget resending Markstrom back in the AHL. He is NHL ready and it was clearly proven in the AHL finals against the Monarchs.
The return at best would be a second or third round. Those are selections the Canucks don’t hold for the upcoming draft and Benning would like to have a pick or two in those rounds. The question first is who they keep based on their needs. Ryan Miller is the no.1 and will play the majority of games but a bit older now, Miller wouldn’t let go a few games out for his backup. Lack and Markstrom are both 27, so it is not an issue of getting younger either.
Jim Benning believes he can get a second or a third round for one of his goalie. The choice might not be made until the best offer comes out from another team. With the amount of goaltenders available this off-season, it may be difficult to get a high return. One option could be to package either Lack or Markstrom with a roster player and get a high second round pick. Bottom line one of them will be gone soon.
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I’d pick Markstrom to stay