Latest Islanders and Rangers Speculation – March 26, 2018

by | Mar 26, 2018 | Rumors | 55 comments

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.

Could the New York Islanders pursue a top-four defenseman such as Arizona’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson this summer? (Photo via NHL Images)


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. 


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. 



  1. Isles have way more assets to offer in a deal for a top 4 D than the thin Oilers. Nelson is just one + non roster and multiple picks. They could get it done. In any event, a Kings Ransom if they are looking at a player like Trouba. Oilers need forward depth.

    • looks like the Isles will have 2 lottery picks in this years draft, as Calgary isn’t going to make the playoffs. They could either swap the two to move up, or trade one of them in a deal for a D-man like OEL

      • If the lottery gives them two picks in the 6-15 range, it might be worth sending them both to AZ for OEL.

      • OEL is not worth 2 early 1st round picks below 15th… He is the most over rated player I’ve ever heard about that plays defense… Coyotes suck just like he does, without Yandle what have they done? Least Florida is competing for a playoff spot having Yandle while I think he was in the SCF w/ Rangers or around that time they got him/next year? It would be nice if they got Trouba who is a right shot D-man w/ massive upside while OEL is only in decline. Klefborn or whatever is another guy I’d rather have than OEL given the cost :). King Karl would be like reverse of when Islanders traded Chara ;). I think they did the Wade Redden/Berard deal back in day which means anything is possible… Besides even if Islanders had OEL they wouldn’t be any better… IF they could win the draft lottery to draft the stud D-man that would solve their problem quite cheaply. Devils/Flyers maybe were at or around the same spot Islanders or Flames will finish when they won 1st/2nd in draft. While Avalanche I think had best record for drafting 1st only to get shafted. Brock Nelson had a nice hat trick he wasn’t playing on a talented line though… Islanders 3rd line struggled so maybe signing Ilya would help. Trading Leddy might improve the Islanders on defense since he is really bad on defense ;). Boychuk missed chunks of the season, De Haan, they had a lot of issues on the blue line that I don’t think OEL would solve or improve. I’d rather make a lesser trade w/ Carolina for one of their young promising D-men. In my lifetime I don’t recall there ever being a more over rated D-man in the Western conference than OEL :). Besides its a top 4 D-man which isn’t even saying top 1 or 2… Which makes the pool much deeper for less value needed to be given out.

      • This would be a bizarre move but what if Calgary traded Brody to the islanders for their own 1sr round choice back.
        That means they would have traded Hamonic for Brody plus a second and a 3 rd round pick going to the islanders

      • Flamefan I always liked TJ Brodie along w/ Doogie Hamilton… Even back on his days when on Bruins I thought he should have played more… I remember him scoring a goal when probably had him in fantasy. I know many have been down on TJ Brodie even blaming him for this player or that struggling… I don’t think that would be a strange trade especially when factor in the Islanders history :).

    • I agree, the Oilers are not deep enough to trade a defencemen, especially Klefbom. Although Ethan Bear has been looking good since being called up a few weeks ago. He is still young and you don’t know if he can bring this type of play during a full season.

      • KevJam,

        I can’t resist asking you this; what do you think Ethan Bear’s nickname is in the dressing room?

      • Don’t know. Maybe Winnie? or Poo? or Paddington? lol
        I actually live in the Calgary area so I don’t get the new Oilers players nicknames all that quickly.

      • Bearsy

      • That is almost definitely correct. Not a lot of creativity for nhl nicknames.

        Boo boo would be a good onr

      • Well, with a few exceptions, hockey players aren’t really known for their cerebral prowess. In fact, coming from Ontario, I can attest that most of them are dumb dumbs. Extremely skilled and talented dumb dumbs no doubt though but most of them can’t even spell the word “algebra” let alone have any chance of being able to do it.

      • Wernt ballsma a harvard guy?

      • Unlike football and basketball, these guys are drafted out of highschool and not university. So one really has to wonder how many of them actually have their highschool diploma.

      • How dumb are hockey players? The testicular guard – i.e., the “cup” – was first used in 1874 … the first helmets appeared in 1974 … that means it only took 100 years for them to figure out that the brain is also important …

      • Brian Dumoulin did 3 years at Boston College and earned a degree and he is dumb as a box of rocks. I see him sitting in class like that episode where Beavis and Butthead had to take their SATs and it took Beavis the entire allotted time to fill in his name and he still spelt it “Beafus.” Love him as a player but that episode of In The Room where Matt Cullen was having trouble explaining to him that Soundgarden was a band and not a place said it all.

      • I never met the guy so I reserve judgement… though if he earned a degree in 3 years and it took me 4… that must make me… whats dumber than rocks… dumber than a post?

      • I remember the HObey Bake award being a joke for the player to win… It was worse than the HEisman busts haha… I’m sure many of the American players are smarter than the Canadian stars… Since it seems more American players come out of colleges compared to the Canada players or others who come from Junior Hockey at like 18ish. You see many of these college boys not sign the ELC w/ team who drafts them so they can pick where they play giving best chance to crack into lineups. So yeah I’m sure farm boys like Kyle Clifford who had to shovel manure might lack the brains of these Ivy League college USA boys :). Better to be rich/dumb than end up like Jack Johnson trusting his family who blew his fortune. So college boys might be book smart but many are not street smart which presents different challenges and problems ;).

      • Bear is looking more than good. The Oiler are trying to make him a PP quarterback which might be a stretch but he’s done it throughout his minor career so who knows.

        A guy like Bear may allow the oilers to move a D and look to free agency or another trade to shore up the D.

    • SilverSeven,
      The Oilers are a complete mess! I agree that the Islanders are in a much better position to acquire a defence man. If the Oilers screw up with McDavid as badly as they did with all of their other top picks then the Board Of Governors should vote to kick them out of the League!

      I hope the sarcasm here is blatantly obvious. If I were an Oilers fan right now I would be very annoyed!

      • How are the Oilers a complete mess? Yes as an Oiler fan the season was very disappointing. However there are positives nearing the end of this season.
        1) the last 2 games, which were back to back, against 2 teams fighting for playoff spots were very well played and very competitive.
        2) McDavid is finally shooting the puck, and scoring when he does. This past 2 years we Oiler fans have been screaming for him to shoot more.
        3) So far it looks like the defence will be healthy and ready to go next season, unlike this season.
        4) The last quarter of this season Talbot has looked like the Talbot of last season.
        5) Aberg seems like a great addition from the trade deadline.

        Yes the roster does need some tweaking to get faster, but I really disagree with your comment saying that they are a mess.

      • The oilers have nice pieces to build a contender around, but Chiarelli has made several poor decisions. Building a contender around the talent that he inherited should have been straight forward.

        Moving out Hall and Eberle for Larsson and Strome is abysmal value. Larsson is a good hockey player, but that deal was atrocious. Signing Lucic, Sekera and Russell is also a terrible waste of cap space. They basically committed $16.5M to a trio that has fewer total goals than Eberle, who was a cap casualty.

        The funny part is, had the Oilers just slowed down the rebuild a little, they had some nice pieces to build a good D around. Nurse took a massive step forward this season, and Klefbom is a top 4 D even in a down season. If last years version is more or less what you get, you actually have a potential execellent top pair in Klefbom and Nurse. Filling in around the fringes when you have a very good top pair is much easier than finding a top pair guy. De Haan would be available this summer, and guys like Vatanen, Methot, Hamonic have been traded, and would not have cost Hall.

        Patience is key, forcing something just for the sake of doing so ends up costing too much, whether it’s cap space or picks and players.

        I really hope they don’t leave Chiarelli in charge of a re-tooling as I believe there is a risk he continues to react to save his job, and continues to show a lack of patience.

        The oilers are terribly far away from being a consistent playoff threat, but I do think they are now a bit hamstrung from becoming the contender they should be, mainly because of bad contracts that will be near impossible to move.

      • IMO the Hall for Larson trade isn’t as bad as everyone thinks. For 1 Hall was a big part of the bad culture the Oilers had in their dressing room. Also at that time the Oilers desperately needed a big top pairing d-man who made things tough for the opposition in front of their own net. Yeah it would have been nice to get more for Hall but, who was going to give up more for a player who was known to be a distraction?
        As for Eberle, yeah it may have been the wrong time to trade him. This one is definitely on Chiarelli.
        The Lucic signing no Oilers fan was complaining at that time. This past offseason he lost a few pounds but lost a lot of body fat. A few weeks ago he said in an interview that he now plans to lose a bunch of weight. So next year we’ll see what a slimmer Lucic can do.
        Also lets not forget that Sekera missed training camp and the first few months of the season. Of course he was going to have an off season this year. Not an issue IMO.
        Russell may have been an overpayment, but he would have gotten $4mill from who ever he was going to sign. Is also a good gap filler while the younger defensive prospects develop like Bear and Jones.
        With the Cap to increase to about $80mill the Oilers are not in that bad of shape when it comes to the cap.
        Methot!? Really!? 30 games played for Dallas and only 1 point this season. Overrated.
        Vatanen would have been a huge overpayment to acquire from the Ducks for a Western team, let alone a team in the same division.
        Hamonic was an overpayment for the Flames with a non lottery protected 1st rounder and 2nds. Also not nearly as good as Larsson.
        Don’t see De Haan being moved this offseason.
        Also if it was so easy to build a contender around the talent the Oilers have/had then why did Lowe, Tambellini, and MacT fail so miserably?
        The Oilers need stability more than anything else right now, and replacing Chiarelli and McLellan right now is not what is needed.
        Take the Jets as an example. 2015/16 they made the playoffs. 2016/17 they had big hopes in and they failed at making the playoffs. This season they stay pat with their GM and coach and now look at them. Like you said, it takes patience.

      • Funny how Hall has been a terrific leader in jersey…

      • If that had come from an unreliable source, there is no way I’d believe it. But coming from It HAS to be true! Lmao!

      • @Danny, one other thing I forgot to add. The biggest mistake I believe Chiarelli made this past offseason was not resigning Pitlick. Last season from the start of the season to when he got injured he was the point getter in the bottom 6. Yeah he had injury problems, but for $1mill it was a low risk.

      • KevJam,
        Sorry, re-read the last line of my own post, meant to say the oilers “Aren’t” terribly far away from being a consistent playoff contender.
        I am a fan of the oilers, and I want them to be a good team, but I hated the Lucic signing from the beginning. The writing was on the wall, Chiarelli openly said that he knew the last years of that deal weren’t going to look pretty, but he was more concerned with the first few years. That is eerily similar to what Nonis said after he signed David Clarkson. This is a bad sign right out of the gate. Also, Lucic has only had a couple seasons in total where he approaches that type of value. He gets this additional intangible value added because he is big, strong and tough, but his results are largely based on those adding to his totals, so paying for those on top of what he has accomplished is just silly.
        The oilers may have felt it necessary to move on from Hall, but his numbers and contract should not have put them in as poor a bargaining position as he traded from. Hall did not publicly ask for a trade, and everything was based on rumours. Other, more qualified GM’s, have handled these situations far better. Chevy with Trouba, Yzerman with Drouin, Chevy with Kane, Sakic with Duchene. All of these situations were worse in the media than anything going with Hall, and each of the respective GM’s handled their personal and ended up either getting better value, or getting the player to better fall in line. Again, it’s not that Larsson isn’t solid, but he is no game changer.
        Like I said, my issue is that Chiarelli decided to get older, slower, and heavier despite the league heavily trending toward speed and skill. He managed to put pieces together in a roster that makes a team with Connor McDavid look slow most of the time. He had a young team that could grow together, and basically made moves he knew hurt the team long term because he was confident of the short term (Lucic, Sekera). The pieces are in Edmonton, largely due to some very good luck, and years of drafting high, but this team should be better given what they had to work with. They are better than they looked this year, but they should be Chicago, Pittsburgh, LA type good.

      • I’m friends with the brother of a guy that was on the Oilers with Hall and I know for a fact that if you look closely at his nostrils you can clearly see the word “Hoover” and he and Hall were and still are pretty tight so I have no reason to doubt this article one bit.

      • How can you say kick them out of the league have you seen Calgary mess

      • Steven that Oilers/Ducks game was disgrace way they choked it away then lost in OT… After they shafted the Kings in the prior game… Where was the NHL to call a delay of game on the Scumbag Ducks who were in own zone for 1:10 passing back and forth? If you don’t leave own defensive zone w/ control of the puck it should be delay of game if its a minute plus in the 3X3 OT… That OT was done to give fans something exciting instead of the shoot out that ruined hockey… I could see if it was OT in playoffs where it keeps going but what Ducks did disgraced the NHL… They should be fined and lose their 1st overall pick to Vegas ;).

      • de Haan is a UFA this summer free to sign any where he wants.

      • Striker Hickey is a FA as well free to sign anywhere… Though I kinda think he will be back along w/ de Haan… Seidenberg or so will probably retire or move on to another team though at age 36ish :).

  2. IMO the Islanders problems are not defence. They are in goal. It they can acquire a true number 1 goalie they would be a true playoff team.

    • KevJam,
      I hope you are right about the Oilers! As a Leafs fan I like to see all Canadian teams do well! Maybe the Oilers are a lot like this year’s Jets and ready for a comeback!

      I was thinking Teddy as a nickname for Ethan Bear!

    • Well KEvjam Gibson has looked really good in the games he has played too little and late. LEddy is awful on defense which don’t help among some other players are forward :). Halak might be gone after this season, Greiss was awful for most of the year, they got that Russian who played a period at Olympics too. I think they can upgrade Defense if they just stay healthy or add a UFA that Vegas will lose for nothing to gamble :).

    • The loss of Boychuk their #2 for 21 games & de Haan for the entire season early over exposed the kids. Halak’s #’s Plato g behind this roster especially on D were solid.

      They played run & gun as what choice did they have?

      The also lost 1 of their best defensive forward & penalty killers in Kulemin.

      A recipe for disaster. No position better reflects a teams faults than I. Net. Is Price a bad goalie? Can’t stop a beach ball playing behind that D. It was brutal with Weber, with out the worst in the league.

  3. As I said many times before everybody needs a top four defenceman! With the League expanding expect this need to continue! This League is so elite that there are honestly not enough top caliber athletes to fill the 6 roster spots for true NHL defenders across 31 rosters….. soon to be 32. If this statement, as silly as it seems, were not true then the need would not be there. Ironically, I see this as positive because it affirms just how truly elite this League is and what we as fans get to see. Everybody seems to need a centre as well and a top flight back up goalie. It’s already hard enough o make this League. Could you imagine with the skill set today of the modern athlete just how strong the quality of hockey would be in the NHL if say there were just 24 teams? I say 32 because Seattle is a given. Filling 24 rosters from the same pool of players would mean translate into even higher quality play for the fans! Yes I know everybody; which teams go the way of the dodo bird? There a few weak markets in the NHL case nobody noticed.

    • Anyone who needs a dman should look to Dallas for a deal. Apparently they can’t evaluate talent to save their lives. Getting Oleksiak for what amounted to Josh Archibald was highway robbery and they have a couple more guys they have all but give up on that are super talented and could help the right roster. Julius Honka for one could help a team like the Islanders and even the Oilers. And he’s been pretty much stuck in the AHL his whole career.

    • You got more than enough D-men who shoot left in the NHL to fill out the top 4 of over team twice over… There guys in KHL or other leagues if not buried in AHL who could play NHL level hockey… Look at Wild Bill on Vegas who is at about 40 goals after toiling away on 3rd lines… Besides NHL is in a better position compared to any of the major sports like MLB, NBA, NFL when it comes to talent… See the NHL is losing players from Russia to KHL which might hurt the skill positions… Yet they are gaining players from places like Germany, Switzerland, who not only are NHL level but actually elite players… So there might not be enough players from Canada/USA to fill out 32 teams… Though those people that are called black or some other created race will get picked more in the 1st round or early rounds w/ players from Russia playing in KHL more… ESpecially w/ all the xenophobic hatred that is directed at Russia to blame them for everything a commie under every bed mentality…

      Even places like Slovenia have produced elite players like Kopitar who are competing for Hart… Though they seem to have a player busted every olympics for cheating or some drug. Norway has improved as a hockey nation which will help fill out more rosters along w/ other teams not household names. If hockey was not a real international sport, then it might be a problem… Soccer is probably the only sport that has more talent from across the globe of the team style sports. Problem for most NHL team is dead salary cap money or an owner that imposes a salary they can pay. College players have become vastly better so they can get older NHL ready now players instead of developing 18 year olds for 3-5 years in junior/minors etc…

  4. The Isles should sign Ranta who is a free agent then trade Nelson, Ho Sang and picks for a top De man. But first they need a gm get rid of Snow and lose Weight.

    • Weight is gone if Chicago fires Coach Q.

    • Pete as I said before I think they should make a play for Grubaur who helped Germany qualify for Olympics too… Though he might end up taking over for Capitals in net if he don’t leave there after he took that rebate contract to stay in first place :).

  5. Canucks have Tanev here for the Isles for the right price.
    Nice top 4 D…right shot, long hair, warrior heart. Blocks everything. Not flashy…not in the line-uo long enough for you to notice him….

    Tongue in cheek

  6. Both Oilers and NYIs need to make bold moves. Agree, almost every team looking for Top Centre, Top D, Top G and talent thinning with the addition of 32nd team. If JT does not re-sign with NYI— this will be a huge pitfall. They need an aggressive move to satisfy JT and encourage him to stay. Re: Oilers— hear on Radio this morning that trading the big German is NOT out of the question—- is that a notion of the possibility of a move on OEL? EK? Price? Uncertain. PC cannot fail at the next trade— if it is a bold move he better be sure to win it. BTW— bully for McD and recent surge in points.

    • Pengy I don’t think Islanders are in as bad a position as Oilers… They just need to be healthy over making any bold moves. Hurt them that Flyers along w/ Devils bounced back when looked like they wouldn’t even compete not to mention Florida… Hell Islanders only missed playoffs by like one point last year. This year they were decimated w/ injuries especially on defense… The new arena will help them attract more players which helps… They got 2 1st round draft picks that should be in the top 10 too :).

  7. Sigh! No takers on my old school anti-expansion, pro contraction dream! I know it will never happen, but it’s fun when people try to tell me why. I know why….. money! $600,000,000 I hear is the going rate for Seattle.

    • Steven be glad if they stop at 32 I seen articles on USA today pushing for like 34 or 36 haha ;). NHL is one league that should keep expanding if anything compared to other leagues… Like MLB, NFL, NBA maybe they should contract since their talent pool is shallow compared to the amt of players NHL can get into… Also you got strong volleyball along w/ Basketball leagues in Italy which cut into those talents besides other leagues. NHL has already contracted teams back in the dark ages… KHL has contracted teams so be a fan of the KHL if want a smaller league ;).

    • The growth of hockey in the US is staggering. The influx of US born & developed players is just in it’s infancy.

      Bettman’s vision is decades ahead of today. No faster growing sport in the world.

  8. I think Grabner and or Nash coming back will depend on a lot of different things between now and July 1st. They have a ton of RFA/ UFA’s to deal with before they decide.
    I certainly don’t want to see them back if they’re taking a spot away from capable younger player.

    Right now NY is playing good hockey. And we’re about to see both Andersson and Chytl in the lineup for the rest of the year.

    Personally, I’d like to see them just stay the course. A month ago, I thought different. But NY is nowhere near as bad as I thought they’d be post Mcdonagh, Nash, Grabner, Miller etc.

    • Yeah they seem to be fine without them especially donut who I think got hurt anyways… I’d rather see Grabner come back if I was a Rangers fan since he has speed while able to produce on 3rd line.. Nash is done being elite so why have him around as he fades away. They might as well sign Ilya over bringing back Nash just to sell jerseys to all those Russians :). Don’t get too excited last time Kings had 3 first round picks they got Dustin BRown :). Really blew it, missing out on a few great players… Hell I Think they took Dustin Brown over Jeff Carter or somebody can’t remember off hand haha ;). Islanders look more like the team rebuilding way they have dropped in the standings :).

    • I can see grabner coming back. He’s a good bottom 6 guy that kills penalties and will probably sign reasonable contract. No way I bring Nash back

  9. Nelson, ok. There is no way you can trade Lee. The guy may end up with 40 goals. You can’t just replace that. Package Nelson and a dman such as Pelech or Aho and picks get something.

    • Yeah I’d rather not trade any of them… Though if Lee is flirting w/ 40 goals or more that is something need to keep :). Hell there players who will make HOF that never even scored 40 in a season :). Leddy is real bad on defense maybe they can ship him for a better player :). They traded Harmonic last year so guess they didn’t replace or recover from that loss ;).