New York Islanders: The Devon Toews trade was the right move

New York Islanders, Devon Toews

Everyone and their mother know that the New York Islanders had to trade Devon Toews because of cap space problems. Then all of a sudden, Johnny Boychuk retires and frees up a good amount of cap space. Now everyone is calling for Lou Lamoriello’s head because of this. This is interesting for many reasons, but a primary one is that no one knew how bad Boychuk’s eye was.

Boychuk was ready to play another season just two weeks ago, and now his illustrious career is over. I believe trading Devon Toews was the right move, and it’ll remain the right move.

Arbitration Hearing

Devon Toews was traded basically right before his court hearing. Lou Lamoriello has stated many times that he didn’t know how much they would award a player of his caliber. It’s not like Toews was being shopped the entire offseason like Boychuk was. But in the end, Toews got traded, and it’s the right move. I mean, let’s say we kept Toews and Boychuk still retired, those contracts almost cancel each other out, and the Isles still have no money to resign Mat Barzal.

Cap Space

The Islanders would have no room to sign Mat Barzal. Through my estimations, they would have around $6 million to sign him, Greene, Martin, and Schneider. This is not NHL 21; this is an unrealistic scenario. These players deserve money, and that’s what they’re going to get. How much Barzal wants remains a mystery.

Barzal could be asking for $9.5 million for all we know. I assume it’s lower than that based on what Ryan Pulock said when he resigned. But still, you could not keep Toews, Pulock, and Barzal on the Island if they re-signed Toews. The Isles chose the better two players, their franchise players stayed as they try to win a championship.

Why the New York Islanders likely elected to trade Devon Toews

New York Islanders, Devon Toews

The New York Islanders recently traded one of their “Big 3” RFA’s. Devon Toews was shipped off to Colorado for a second-round pick in 2021, and 2022. I don’t know many Islander fans who liked this move, but this move needed to happen, it’s just sad to see Garth Snow still ruining the Islanders.

The reason why Toews is not an Islander is because of Snow. Lou Lamoriello is still dealing with his terrible contract decisions. Sadly, he had to get rid of a good player to do this. But, there are other reasons Toews was traded yesterday.

Contract Arbitration

This was probably the deciding factor in moving Devon Toews. Not once was Toews mentioned in any trades until this happened. For those who don’t know, contract arbitration is a player not agreeing with the salary he will be given, so he files for a court hearing.

The court hearing happens if the two sides can’t meet in the middle on a good contract. If that doesn’t happen, an arbitrator gives the player a contract based on other players’ contracts around the league. Lou Lamoriello got scared about the amount Toews might’ve gotten rewarded with, and here we are now. There’s not enough money to go around, sometimes you gotta be team-friendly.

Noah Dobson

The New York Islanders do not make this trade without knowing that Noah Dobson is ready. Dobson is obviously going to take Devon Toews’ spot alongside Scott Mayfield on the 2nd defensive pairing. This is a huge responsibility for the youngster, but he wouldn’t be in this position if he weren’t ready. Noah Dobson takes Toews’ spot and tries to make Islander fans forget about him. The priority of RFA’s went Mat Barzal, Ryan Pulock, and then Devon Toews. Toews thought he was first in line.

Moving Johnny Boychuk

Johnny Boychuk will probably be traded within the next 48 hours. The Isles had no capital to trade away, Boychuk less than 24 hours ago. Well, now it’s a different story. The Islanders will undoubtedly use one of the 2nd round picks from the Toews’ trade to move Boychuk. If this move happens, the Islanders have $18 Million to sign Barzal, Pulock, Martin, Greene, and another player. It’s sad seeing a good player become a cap casualty, but Hockey is a business.

The Islanders had no choice but to trade Devon Toews

New York Islanders, Devon Toews

The first few days of NHL Free Agency had been quiet for the New York Islanders. That is until yesterday.

In a shocking move, the Islanders traded 26-year old d-man Devon Toews to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for two second-round picks in 2021-22.

Toews, who was a restriction free agent after this past season, was set to for arbitration with the organization. General manager Lou Lamoriello made it clear to reporters this was not a move he wanted to make but that the current situation played a part in the transaction along with the Isles’ cap issues while still needing to get Ryan Pulock and Mathew Barzal signed to new deals.

“It certainly played a role, I’ll be straight forward on it, unfortunately,” Lamoriello said. “Combination of the player going to arbitration with the unknown and being able to acquire assets, which we’ve used in previous trades. It’s all encompassing.”

No one had the thought that Toews wasn’t going to be a major part of the organization’s future moving forward, including me. Just a year and a half ago, Toews was projected to be an elite presence on the Islanders’ defense for the future. When he got the call up to the team in December of 2018, Toews showed he was worth all the hype. Immediately he added another dynamic to a blue line that was still in the early stages of becoming one of the best in the league and one in the midst of a historic season. His strong play followed into this past year his first full season in the NHL where he notched 28 points in 68 games and a postseason where he tied for most points by an Isles defenseman.

Toews did slow down towards the tail end of the Islanders’ run to the Eastern Conference Finals. However. the B.C. native more than established himself as a sturdy top-four d-man.

Obviously that wasn’t enough. And as much as Toews being the sacrificial lamb was something no one envisioned, and Lamoriello making it clear last week his intentions were to try and keep this current core together, he basically had his hands tied. There are too many factors just not in the Islanders’ favor right now beyond the cap.

The Islanders need to do everything in their power to get Barzal signed. We’ve heard — and I was told this again yesterday as well — that Barzal could be looking for $10 million in a possible new deal. They also needed to recoup assets after basically sending most of them away at the deadline in the deals for Andy Greene and J.G. Pageau. The Marc Staal deal by the rival Rangers set the tone of the market when it came to dealing picks. And up until yesterday that market looked like it was going to be extremely difficult to navigate for the Islanders.

Now, they have something they can work with and it can possibly lead to them being able to trade a bigger contract out like Johnny Boychuk, which has been rumored now the past few days.

Something to also be taken into consideration with Toews being dealt is the talented prospect pool on defense the Islanders have right now and how much head coach Barry Trotz likes Nick Leddy and his game. Besides Dobson, they have Sebastian Aho, Samuel Bolduc, Bode Wilde, Parker Wotherspoon, Grant Hutton and Mitch Vande Sompel (those two signed new deals  yesterday and this morning); a few of those names could be with the big club soon too. Trotz called Leddy the Islanders’ best player in the postseason.

“We did give up a good player to acquire assets,” Lamoriello said. “It takes two to make any transaction. Devon was the individual involved — that’s the best way to put it. Not that he was a player targeted (by us to trade).”

Toews will do great things in Colorado. Especially, being a part of an already stacked team featuring Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Cale Makar, Sam Girard and Bowan Byram.

On the flip side, the time has come for Noah Dobson. The organization knows it and they have put their full faith in him as the one to replace Toews. “Noah Dobson, we feel, is certainly ready to take the next step so we’ll have to just wait and see,” said Lamoriello.

So, yeah, trading Toews came at a price. But a lot of aspects probably went into the decision.

It sucks to see him go but the Islanders were really stuck with no choice.

New York Islanders: Predicting the 3 big RFA contracts

Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders have to re-sign their “big 3,” and they need to be re-signed soon. This “big 3” will not be a cheap resign. Each of those three players is crucial to the Islanders’ success now and in the future. The deals will most likely be completed soon. No one has any idea what the negotiation status for all three players currently is because Lou Lamoriello doesn’t let anything slip. But, for the sake of argument, let’s imagine what these deals would look like.

Three potentially big RFA contracts for the New York Islanders:

Mat Barzal

The franchise player, the golden boy, the fastest player in the NHL. Mat Barzal deserves a hefty contract right now due to his recent play. Do I think Barzal could be playing better? Definitely, but he’s only 23 years old, which is scary. I think this deal will be a bridge deal. What do I mean by this? A bridge deal is almost like a “prove that you deserve all our money” deal. So, instead of a 7-8 year deal, I believe it will be a 3-4 year deal. So, when the deal is over, Barzal can cash in on big money. Right now, due to cap concerns, the Isles can’t throw all their money at Barzal. But, Barzal knows this by now and will take a discount to help the team win. Final deal: 4 years, $8 million.

Ryan Pulock

The best defender needs a new contract, and he earned big money. The fact that Pulock isn’t an all-star is absolutely mindblowing. Ryan Pulock deserves at least $5.5 million. But, Pulock will probably get more than that. I think Pulock will get around 5-6 years. No reason to let Pulock possibly leave in 3 years. Isles must sign their best defender for a long time. Final deal: 6 years, $6.5 million.

Devon Toews

The Islanders have a growing star here in Devon Toews, and they need to lock him up for a little while longer. Toews doesn’t deserve big money yet, but he has earned a decent contract. I’m thinking around $3.5-$4 million, and that’s a little generous. The number of years will be around 4. I think it’s a solid bet that Toews’ deal will get done first. Final deal: 4 years, $3.5 million.

New York Islanders: Possible 3-Way Trade for Patrik Laine

New York Islanders, Patrik Laine

The New York Islanders have the possibility to make one of their biggest acquisitions ever. But, this move will come with a price, a price that’s very steep. This possible trade has a ton of speculation behind it. A reliable source has been vocal about the proposal. This trade involves the Montreal Canadiens, the Winnipeg Jets, and of course, the New York Islanders.

The Trade for the New York Islanders:

The New York Islanders relinquish Oliver Wahlstrom, Devon Toews, a 1st round pick, a 2nd round pick, and Kieffer Bellows. The Islanders only receive Patrik Laine. Wahlstrom, Toews, and the 2nd round pick go to Winnipeg. The Canadiens give up Max Domi to the Jets, while the Isles send Bellows and a 1st rounder to them.

Analysis

Why in god’s green earth would the Islanders ever accept this trade. First of all, Montreal doesn’t need to be involved in the trade at all. Like why would the Islanders want to trade Kieffer Bellows, one of their best prospects by the way, to the Canadiens, and get nothing in return? The Canadiens would have to send Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi back the other way. No, I am not overexaggerating that trade, this is the only way the Isles can win that 3-way trade.

Revamped Trade

Here is my deal for the new 3-way Patrik Laine trade. First, cut off Montreal. The Isles don’t need Montreal to complete the trade. So, it would be Devon Toews, Oliver Wahlstrom, and a 2nd for Patrick Laine. This deal makes a lot more sense for everyone. Max Domi can find another trade to hop into, the Isles certainly can’t lose both their top forward prospects. And as an extra, trade Ladd and Ho-Sang to Ottawa for a 7th round pick.

New York Islanders: Devon Toews’s Seesaw Sophomore Season will benefit him in the Future

New York Islanders, Devon Toews

The second season for any National Hockey League player is always a fascinating one, and it was no different for New York  Islanders’ Devon Toews.

Toews, who recorded 28 points in 68 games before the season was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, experienced the highs and lows that come with being a sophomore in the NHL after he came shot out of a cannon in his rookie year in 2018-19.

As this season got underway, Toews had solidified himself in the top-4 on defense for the Isles. It was a result of his strong rookie campaign.

The hype around the 26-year-old had built up for a while before he first joined the Isles in December 2018 after veteran d-man Thomas Hickey suffered a concussion. He quickly showed that hype was real. Toews stuck with the big club the rest of the season and became a regular fixture on the blue line showing off his excellent skating and two-way style.

He also had a coming-out party of sorts in the postseason. Toews was the Isles’ best all-around player when Carolina swept them, and his final stat line in the playoffs read five points in eight games. At that moment, it felt like not only was Toews off to the races, but the Islanders were too.

“I knew he was a good skater and his ability to move the puck and transport it and all that,” head coach Barry Trotz said last season about Toews to reporters.

“Probably the poise; the poise in small areas, where some guys feel crowded if you will. They get the puck, and they whack it. He seems to have the poise in small areas, which is pretty beneficial when you can make those small plays and understand how much pressure is around you. That part is probably what surprised me the most, the poise.”

Toews looked as last season wasn’t a fluke he with how hot on he was in the early going this season. He notched seven points in the first ten games, was averaging 18-21 minutes a night, and his display of swagger and confidence looked to be setting him up for a big season.

After the Isles’ 17-game point streak, his game seemed to tail off a bit. The term “sophomore slump” began to float its way out there, but its hard to say if it was precisely that. Sure the points weren’t coming in droves as they came earlier in the year, and some of his decisions with and without the puck could be questioned, but Toews was still contributing with his solid defensive play and helping quarterback the power play.

Then there came the Washington game just before the All-Star break, which was arguably Toews’s best and worst game of his career.

Toews had tallied three points — a goal and two assists –but it was his infamous mocking of the Caps’ Evgeny Kuznetsov’s bird celebration after he made it a 4-1 game that had a lasting effect. The Isles would surrender five straight goals in the third period and lost 6-4.

Trotz was furious with Toews and called out him out for “poking the bear” and exhibiting his immaturity.

“I didn’t like some of the antics,” he acknowledged after that loss. “It was a little bit immature on our part. Last year, we were dialed in there. This year, we’re not dialed in there in trying to accept what we really are.”

It’s moments such as that one that will be a learning tool for Toews to use, whether this season resumes or as he gets ready for next season. The same too for some of the other times, he prospered and dealt with adversity.

 Toews has proven he’s going to be a quality defenseman for the Islanders for a very long time, and the organization knows it. That’s why g.m. Lou Lamoriello is so adamant that he won’t have a problem signing him or the club’s two other RFAs — Mathew Barzal and Ryan Pulock — for that matter.

Even at 26, there’s still room for Toews to grow his game both from a maturity standpoint as well as his performance on the ice. And going through an up-and-down season might have been the best thing for him at this stage of his career.