Dreger sees Islanders poised to add offensive piece soon

(Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire)

While the New York Islanders fan base is waiting to hear good news on the John Tavares contract extension front, general manager Garth Snow is no doubt feverishly working behind the scenes to do everything in his power to make a more 91-friendly roster.

During a nearly 30-minute discussion on Toronto’s TSN 1050 on Monday afternoon, NHL Insider Darren Dreger was quizzed on a host of topics with the hockey world focused on the Vegas Golden Knights and the expansion draft variables.

There was one particular section of the conversation that piqued the curiosity of the Islanders’ faithful.

“I don’t ever remember a time when there were so many quality, young defensemen potentially available,” reflected Dreger. “You’ve got Travis Hamonic with the New York Islanders. The Islanders – they’re going to do something big in the next week here. And by big, I mean they’re going to add an offensive piece – a top-six forward – whoever that is. And it might have to include Travis Hamonic and something else going back as part of that.

“I mean, if it’s Matt Duchene, as an example, coming back and Hamonic goes the other way – well, now Tyson Barrie is available. He’s a d-winger (defenseman-winger) – but that puck movement has got to help a lot of clubs, right?

“Vatanen. Minnesota can’t keep all of those defense, which is why the speculation around Brodin is off the charts right now.

“And everybody is targeting Montreal because of the Galchenyuk rumors, but Montreal isn’t the only dog in the fight there.

“So there are lot of good young D. I feel if Toronto doesn’t grab one of those this off-season, it’s going to be a missed opportunity.”

The Islanders have been popping up quite a bit lately in the Insider community, being connected to a number of the top potential trade targets on the market.

Jordan Eberle, Matt Duchene, and Alex Galchenyuk are ranked third, fourth, and eighth respectively on the June 16 version of TSN’s Trade Bait list, and all three – who have been heavily-rumored to be on the move – have been tied to the Islanders in one way or another recently.

On Thursday of last week, Dreger reported that his sense as of the day before was that “there were at least six, maybe seven teams in” on Eberle. “The two that seem to be near the top of the front-runner list are the Colorado Avalanche and the New York Islanders.”

On Friday of last week, Elliotte Friedman was asked if there was any fire to the proverbial smoke of Duchene or Eberle as far as the Islanders go.

“I believe there’s been fire on Duchene for quite awhile,” said Friedman. “Duchene and Tavares share the same agent. And I would think the Islanders are probably looking at Tavares and saying, ‘How would you feel about this?’ So I do think the Islanders and Duchene has been a conversation/is a conversation for quite some time.

“The one thing I wonder about Eberle is Kelly Buchberger is going to the Islanders, and I know they butted heads at times when they were both in Edmonton. So I don’t know what that means.

“ … But I definitely think there’s interest in Eberle. I just don’t know about the whole Buchberger thing. I’m not ripping Kelly Buchberger or anything, I’m just saying that I know they butted heads, so I don’t know how they’d feel about each other in New York.”

On Friday of last week, Bob McKenzie indicated that he thinks the Islanders “are a team that’s interested in doing something” on Eberle front.

The day before, McKenzie had been quite specific in his wording about Eberle’s future with the Oilers.

“I think he’s going to get traded,” said McKenzie. “Now, not 100 percent guaranteed. But if you’re asking me if he’s going to get traded I would say it’s much more likely than not that Jordan Eberle gets traded.”

McKenzie also asserted this belief last week: “I think Hamonic is more than likely going to be traded by the Islanders. I’d be very surprised if he’s not dealt.”

For those connecting Hamonic and Eberle as a potential match between the Oilers and Islanders, Friedman had some food for thought on that subject on Friday of last week. He just didn’t see it happening, at least on a one-for-one basis.

“From what I hear on Hamonic, the price is really high. Like, I wonder if it’s higher than Eberle, to be perfectly honest.”

In Arthur Staple’s Thursday evening report on a potential expansion-related agreement in place between the Islanders and Vegas Golden Knights, he ties the team’s interest to Duchene, Eberle, and Galchenyuk up with a bow, noting how all three of those respective teams are seeking a defenseman and that the Islanders are believed to be willing to give up Hamonic to help their forward group.

There have been a lot of reports concerning the availability of Galchenyuk from the Canadiens, and Dreger passed along this nugget of information on Monday afternoon:

“Those who have expressed interest in Galchenyuk say that Bergevin, in fact, does want multiple pieces,” relayed the Insider. “That could explain why that transaction hasn’t happened to this point. But not saying he won’t get it. A lot of things can happen between now and the weekend. Certainly there’s an appetite for that on Friday in the first round on the draft floor in Chicago.”

The NHL’s expansion draft signing moratorium and trade freeze will be lifted on Thursday morning, and with the first round of the entry draft slated for Friday evening it’s hoped (expected!!) that fans will be treated to a flurry of activity.

Will Snow be able to nab one of Duchene, Eberle, or Galchenyuk to both shore up his offense and help to convince Tavares to put pen to paper on that mammoth contract extension as early as July 1?

Only time will tell, but this particular moment in time with the Golden Knights’ entry into the NHL is seen as one of the best opportunities for any team to satisfy whichever roster need they seek to fill.

It’s up to each general manager to carpe that diem.

Source: TSN 1050, TSN, Newsday, archives

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