In his most recent 31 Thoughts column for Sportsnet, Elliotte Friedman notes that the New York Islanders need help on defense as they deal with injuries to Calvin de Haan and Johnny Boychuk. Brock Nelson, a pending restricted free agent, is listed as a possible trade chip whose name is “starting to creep out there” though Friedman provides no further details other than noting that the Islanders are in a desperate win-now mode. That’s mostly because of the continued intrigue around John Tavares and his potential free agency, but it’s not just him that could walk this summer. Josh Bailey, Thomas Hickey, Jaroslav Halak and de Haan are all set to become unrestricted free agents, which could result in a very different Islanders team taking the ice next season. If they’re to compete with this group, it has to happen now. If the Islanders are to put Nelson up for sale, he would certainly garner interest despite his down year. Coming off three consecutive 20+ goal, 40+ point seasons, Nelson has just 14 points on the season this year playing reduced minutes behind Tavares and Mathew Barzal. His ability and size are still attractive attributes for teams looking to upgrade down the middle, especially when they come with just a $2.5MM cap hit. Most teams in the league could afford to add a contract like that, especially if a defenseman is headed back the other way. Defense isn’t the only thing Friedman mentions in regards to the Islanders, as he sneaks in a thought about their goaltending situation and a potential interest in Robin Lehner of the Buffalo Sabres. This doesn’t seem to be based on any inside information, but just seems like a logical fit from his point of view—for what it’s worth, Joe Yerdon of NHL.com has considered this idea before as well.
Islanders could be active at the trade deadline
Pro Hockey Rumors | Jan 10