The Islanders are a wreck in goal as their postseason outlook starts to dim. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
By Allan Muir
Even as Evgeni Nabokov nears a return to action for the Islanders, Newsday’s Arthur Staple speculated on Wednesday that the team could be on the verge of making a deal to solve its season-long goalie issues.
The sooner, the better. Neither Nabokov nor young Kevin Poulin has done anything this season to suggest that he can help New York leapfrog the five teams between it and the third playoff spot in the weak-sister Metropolitan Division. But is there a deal to be made for a goalie who could help improve the Islanders’ already slim postseason chances?
The Hurricanes’ Anton Khudobin is intriguing — athletic and competitive, but hardly a proven commodity. The Ducks’ Jonas Hiller would be an upgrade, but the trading price for him in picks/prospects would be a little steep at this point.
That leaves Sabres goalie Ryan Miller as the obvious choice, but the risk involved in swapping for Buffalo’s netminder would be high — for both sides.
There’s no reason for the Sabres to do anything to help New York. Remember, Buffalo acquired, conditionally, the Islanders’ first-round pick in 2014, as well as a second-rounder in ’15, as part of the Thomas Vanek for Matt Moulson deal. It’s in the Sabres’ best interest then to see New York fail.
And even if Islanders GM Garth Snow was willing to pay Buffalo’s price (a high pick and a solid, though not elite, prospect), it might mean putting his job on the line. Miller and Vanek are pending UFAs, and if both walked after Snow had emptied New York’s coffers to acquire them, the losses would be devastating to the franchise.
So what’s likely to happen? Look for Snow to make two smaller deals: one to acquire a goalie with some longer-term potential, and one for a veteran defenseman to shore up the Islanders’ shaky blue line.