However, while researching my Mike Milbury = Matt Millen post, it was hard to ignore Garth Snow's NHL draft wizardy. Doing the math is a little tricky so here's a visual aid from Isles info.com's Islanders' GM history:
06/20/08: NYI trade 2008 Entry Draft first round pick(fifth overall - D Luke Schenn) to TOR for first round pick in 2008 (seventh overall), TOR’s 3rd round pick in 2008 (68th overall) and TOR’s 2nd round pick in 2009.
06/20/08: NYI trade TOR’s 1st round pick in the 2008 Entry Draft (seventh overall - C Colin Wilson, previously acquired) to NSH for FLA’s 1st round pick in 2008 (ninth overall - C Josh Bailey, previously acquired) and FLA’s 2nd round pick in 2008 (40th overall - D Aaron Ness, previously acquired).
06/21/08: NYI acquire CHI's third round pick (72nd overall - D Jyri Niemi)and fourth round pick (102nd overall - W David Ullstrom) in 2008 for TOR’s
third round pick in 2008 (68th overall - D Shawn Lalonde, previously acquired).
Impressive. Snow basically moved the Islanders first round pick for Florida's first and second round picks, Chicago's third and fourth round picks in 2008 plus Toronto's 2009 2nd-rounder. As good as Luke Schenn and Colin Wilson could end up, that's a hell of a leap in the rebuilding process.
So that alone gives the Islanders a light at the end of the tunnel, but now let's get hypothetical:
Semi-plausible moves that could reignite the Islanders
Step 1: Winning the Tavares lottery
Obviously this is the portion that's dedicated exclusively to random chance. The Isles are the worst team in the NHL right now and will likely finish with the most lottery balls at the end of the season, but that in no way guarantees that they'll get the #1 pick.
Getting the second pick wouldn't be horrible since the only spot locked up long term is #1 goalie thanks to Rick Dipietro's
What better way to help the Islanders sell the idea of a new arena than to add the most hyped Canadian since Sidney Crosby?
(Quick aside for those hockey's futures nuts out there: what is a reasonable estimate for a healthy first season for Tavares? Could his production be Crosby-like, Patrick Kane-like or more like Joe Thornton's rough rookie year?)
Step 2: Trade for Kovalchuk or throw the bank at Marian Hossa
Personally, I think Kovalchuk would be a better bet because his talents are "sexier." Hossa's a fantastic player, but you get the feeling that Kovalchuk would dazzle New Yorkers deeply. A rare victory for sizzle over steak.
If Atlanta decides to deal Kovalchuk, the Islanders have picks and prospects to spare
With Doug Weight ($4.5 mil), Bill Guerin ($4.3 mil), Mike Comrie ($4 mil) and Mike Sillinger ($2.2 mil) coming off the books this summer, the Islanders could transform their roster from washed-up, overpaid veterans to whatever image the "new" Islanders would seek.
($17 million from four players for non-math majors)
If NHLSCAP figures are correct, their overall cap would be right under $31 million with 8 forwards, 7 defensemen and 1 goaltender under contract (not counting minor leaguers ... although you can argue many of their starters belong in the AHL).
In that dream scenario, Tavares would probably have a Stamkos-like cap hit. Let's say $4 million to be safe. Let's also assume that the cap goes down to , say, $55 million when factoring in the deadbeat economy.
The Islanders could throw a "horse head in the bed" offer at Marian Hossa or easily absorb the last year of Kovalchuk's contract. Hell, if you really want to dream big imagine the Islanders somehow landing Kovalchuk - Hossa - Tavares or Kovalchuk - Gaborik - Tavares or something of that nature. Crazier things have happened.