Monday, June 22, 2015

Do the Islanders Deal Okposo?

The +New York Islanders are closing in on the "winning now" philosophy, as their franchise has taken a while through the rebuilding phase of the process of the professional cycle, so it seems awfully strange, when the reports surface that they have the late-blooming power forward, Kyle Okposo, on the trade block, trolling for draft picks.

I don't think there is anything necessarily wrong with keeping your cupboards stocked up with some young talent, but dealing an established (and rare) player on your roster, just to keep those cupboards stocked, seems a bit hasty.  Sure, the Islanders don't have a pick until the 3rd round, dealing their 1st and 2nd in a botched Thomas Vanek deal and then flipping another 2nd rounder in the deal that brought Johnny Boychuk to town.

There has been a lot said about the 2015 Entry Draft, how deep it is and how valuable these picks are, but at the end of the day, it's still a crap shoot.  If teams are willing to part with these picks, in order to get an established veteran player, it gets them ahead in the race for the Cup, while your team is not sure how this draft pick is going to fare in your system.

The Islanders were only 5 points clear of the playoff race, as a whole, in the Eastern Conference and that's still a pretty slim margin of error they are playing with, given what they are trying to accomplish.

Unless, the Islanders were confident in prospects like Michael Dal Colle or Josh Ho-Sang making an impact on their roster for next season, I would be certainly hesitant to deal Okposo, who may not have a 30-goal season yet to his credit, but he does seem to have a great mix in the team, as it currently stands.  You could really argue that the team missed him dearly, when he was out injured.

There are some other factors to consider, when thinking about keeping him... what happens next Summer?  He becomes an unrestricted free agent in one year's time.  Can the Islanders foresee some issues with trying to sign him to a long-term contract extension?  At only a $2.8 million cap hit for the coming year, the 27-year old forward may look to get paid next year and that could put him out of the Islanders' budget for the 2017 season.  Can the team get some value now, as he tries out for a new deal on a new team?  That is a reasonable cap hit this season, one that could turn out to be a bargain, if he remains healthy.

A team I could see going after a guy like Okposo would be the +Columbus Blue Jackets, as they wanted this type of player in Nathan Horton, but lost out on his services, due to his overall health.  The Jackets have a few 2nd round picks, holding onto Toronto's (#34), their own (#38) and Anaheim's (#58).  The Jackets could do well with a guy like Okposo on their side, if they are willing to part with some key picks.

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