The New York Islanders revealed yesterday that they will be retaining their 2014 first-round pick and sending their 2015 first-round pick to the Buffalo Sabres in order to finish the deal that sent Thomas Vanek to the Islanders.
That means that the Islanders will be selecting fifth overall in the upcoming 2014 NHL Draft. Or will they? Shortly after saying he would he would keep the pick, Islanders general manager Garth Snow was asked if he would consider trading the pick. His answer was…
“Absolutely. We’re open to any deal that might make the team better. If that’s trading the pick for a player, standing pat and picking a quality player at No. 5, or trading it to move up or down, we’re open.”
Obviously the Islanders want to get better next season as they do not want to give the Sabres a better chance at drafting Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel.
This is where the Toronto Maple Leafs come in. It is unlikely that any player drafted fifth overall is not going to have a huge impact as early as next season. So it would probably be beneficial to trade the pick. Since even one of the higher picks is not all of a sudden going to turn the Islanders into a playoff contender, moving up doesn’t make much sense either.
This is why the Leafs should inquire about the fifth pick. The Leafs could send the Islanders either a good player that would net them the fifth pick by themselves. They could also send the eighth pick and a player in order to move up.
Whether it be a defenseman like Dion Phaneuf or Cody Franson or a forward like Dave Bolland or Nikolai Kulemin (the Islanders already have acquired the rights to a player and then signed him in Jaroslav Halak), the optimal route is to send a player along with the eighth pick to move up to No. 5. The Islanders need the help now for sure.
The Leafs are under pressure to succeed, but the Islanders are under more pressure, especially Snow. If they don’t make the playoffs next year, he will probably be facing the axe. The Leafs could definitely take advantage of the Islanders need and draft a player that has a higher ceiling than one they could get with the eighth pick.