Without a high first-round pick for the first time in quite a while, this year’s NHL Draft could be very uneventful for the New York Islanders. On the other hand, Garth Snow may have a trick or two up his sleeve.
When the opening round of the 2015 draft takes place at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida on Friday, the Islanders may only be spectators as they will not make their first selection until the third round, which doesn’t unfold until the following day. It marks the first time since 2007 that New York is without one of the top 15 picks.
The team’s general manager, however, could make things interesting by pulling off a trade.
Citing sources outside the organization, Newsday has reported that Michael Grabner is being actively shopped around the league and Kyle Okposo also could be on the block.
Both players will be entering the final year of their contracts, as will Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin. Snow has turned down offers for the latter two, but moving Grabner and/or Okposo is not out of the question.
“There’s a lot of different scenarios that could play out,” Snow told Newsday. “There could be a trade where we acquire a first or a second (round pick). We prepare the same way for this draft that we have in past drafts, because you just don’t know what’s going to happen.”
How much Grabner would bring back in a deal is anyone’s guess.
The 27-year-old Austrian has not come close to matching the 34 goals he scored in his first season with the Islanders in 2011-12, as his total has declined each campaign. Grabner was limited to 34 games last season due to injuries and recorded only eight tallies and five assists.
Grabner still has youth on his side, but his contract and health issues likely will scare off a lot of teams. He will make $5 million in 2015-16 and hopes to be ready for the start of the campaign as he recovers from a second sports hernia surgery he underwent after New York was eliminated from the playoffs by the Washington Capitals.
The return for Okposo should be far greater, even though he had a detached retina repaired in January. Drafted seventh overall in 2006, Okposo appeared in 60 games last season due to the surgery and produced 18 goals and 51 points.
Okposo is slated to make $2.8 million this season, a figure that should not drop teams from the running to acquire his services. What could dampen their interest is the new contract he may be seeking, which likely will be long in years and high in dollars.
Those numbers also could be what Snow is looking to avoid. And trading Okposo for a piece or two the Islanders need may just be the right move.
“Every contract has a last year to it, so I don’t feel we have any pressure or timetable that a move has to happen this offseason,” Snow said. “Every team has players with expiring contracts. If a move presents itself that will help both in the short and long term, we’ll take a look at it.”