An NHL general manager once told me that if you want to predict his next trading partner, all you have to do is look at his history of deals. Taking his advice, I’m predicting the New York Islanders will make a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers prior to the trade deadline.
The possibility is certainly there. The Flyers need at least one experienced defenseman. Like every team, they could always use help on the power play. A Flyers prospect plus an expensive veteran could come the Islanders’ way. Skilled 25-year old center Joffrey Lupul, even before his surprise cameo on “Sober House,” was rumored to be available (bring him on!). Although Philadelphia’s salary cap problems could prevent their acquisition of a Brendan Witt, the Islanders have plenty of cap space to help them out in other deals.
That’s what friends are for, and Islanders GM Garth Snow and Flyers GM Paul Holmgren are friendly. Two years ago they hooked up for two deals that – if you can believe it – weren’t rumored anywhere.
On Dec. 16, 2006 Snow traded defenseman Alexei Zhitnik and saved $3 million in annual salary for the next two years by getting Freddy Meyer and a third round pick. The draft selection turned into Sarnia (OHL) defenseman Mark Katic, whom we ranked No. 7 among Islanders junior, college and European prospects.
(Sidebar: Three months later Holmgren somehow managed to wheel Zhitnik to Atlanta GM Don Waddell in exchange for stud young dman Brayden Coburn. While several Islanders fans on this blog wrote last week that Snow should be able to make a Coburnian heist for any of the team’s available veterans, don’t count on it. Waddell will live with that move forever).
Three days after the Zhitnik trade, the Islanders unloaded the shockingly-done-like-dinner Mike York on the Flyers for Randy Robitaille and a fifth round draft pick in 2008 that turned out to be Sarnia (OHL) forward Matt Martin, ranked No. 8 on our prospect list.
Snow and Holmgren have a history. They have made deals that have helped their teams. They have talked about other trades that didn’t come to fruition. The Islanders are 28 points behind Philadelphia, making a trade within the division not out of the question. Right now, the Islanders are barely in the same league as the Flyers.
Don’t be surprised if they do some business in a few weeks.
ETC: Mark Streit (upper body) expected to miss his third straight game. Jack Hillen and Joe Callahan back with the Islanders and will play tonight’s home match against Los Angeles. Islanders fans will get their first Coliseum look at Kings prized rookie defenseman Drew Doughty.