Latest Islanders and Rangers Speculation – March 26, 2018
A look at some possible offseason moves by the New York Islanders and how Michael Grabner could return to the New York Rangers in your NHL rumor mill.
ISLANDERS MUST FIND A TOP-FOUR DEFENSEMAN
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Arthur Staple said finding a top-four defenseman should be the Isles priority. He feels they won’t win without one.
Asked about the possibility of the New York Islanders pursuing a trade for Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, Staple considers this “very, very unrealistic”. Better options could be someone such as Arizona’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba or Edmonton’s Oscar Klefbom if those clubs are interested in moving those players.
Staple suggested forward Brock Nelson could be a trade candidate, as he’s a year away from restricted free agent status and had a sub-par performance this season. If the Isles wants to sweeten an offer for a top-four defenseman or a center if John Tavares departs via free agency in July, Staple thinks Anders Lee could be a possible trade chip. He has a year left on his contract with an affordable $3.75-million cap hit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Apart from re-signing Tavares, landing a top-four blueliner is a must for the Islanders. Finding one, however, might not be easy. Such a move could cost them Lee or Nelson as part of the return.
Ekman-Larsson is a year away from unrestricted free agent status but he’s given no indication he wants out of Arizona. If the Coyotes decide to trade him this summer, they’ll seek a significant return.
Trouba is a restricted free agent this year with arbitration rights. While his previous contract talks with Jets management were contentious, things have changed since then. He’s taken on a larger role with their defense corps and the Jets have improved into potential Stanley Cup contenders. As a result, his next contract negotiations could go more smoothly. As for the Oilers, they also need blueline help and could be unwilling to part with Klefbom.
COULD GRABNER RETURN TO THE RANGERS?
NEW YORK POST: Brett Cyrgalis reports New Jersey Devils winger Michael Grabner is open to the possibility of returning to the New York Rangers as a free agent this summer. The Rangers dealt Grabner to the Devils before this season’s trade deadline. He resurrected his career with the Blueshirts, who signed him two years ago to a two-year, $3.3 million contract. He’s earned himself a substantial raise.
Cyrgalis believes a reunion between Grabner and the rebuilding Rangers is possible and thinks the same can also be said of winger Rick Nash, who was shipped to the Boston Bruins before the trade deadline. However, general manager Jeff Gorton is “very unlikely” to hand out more than a two-year deal to a veteran free agent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Grabner and/or Nash are willing to accept affordable two-year contract, Gorton could bring them back to help take some of the pressure off the Rangers’ younger players during the club’s rebuild process. If not, he’ll look elsewhere via free agency.