In this week’s column, I’m going to touch on a variety of subjects, including the relocation of several AHL franchises, Michael Dal Colle’s red hot play as of late, and the likelihood of any top prospect being moved at the deadline, as #IslesTwitter has gone full #IslesTwitter over the past few days.
AHL Moves West to Form Pacific Division
Toward the end of this year’s preseason, reports began to surface that Western Conference teams would be looking to relocate their AHL affiliates closer to their homes on the West Coast. The move was inevitable as the majority of AHL teams being located around the northeastern border between Canada and the US, the only exception being about 5 teams that stretch only as far west as San Antonio.
Take a look at the map below which gives an idea of how far away the affiliates of West Coast teams are. Keep in mind that the Calgary Flames affiliate is no longer the Abbotsford Heat as pictured, but rather the Adirondack Flames (Glen Falls, NY).
There are five teams set to relocate their affiliates and form the Pacific Division:
Los Angeles Kings: Manchester Monarchs will relocate to Ontario, California
San Jose Sharks: Worcester Sharks will move in with the big club in San Jose
Edmonton Oilers: Oklahoma City Barons will relocate to Bakersfield, California
Anaheim Ducks: Norfolk Admirals will relocate to San Diego, California
Calgary Flames: Adirondack Flames will relocate to Stockton, California
What this means for the Islanders:
For those of you that don’t know, below the American Hockey League (AHL) is the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). The Islanders ECHL affiliate is the Stockton Thunder, who has recently been purchased by the Calgary Flames and will most likely be relocated to Glen Falls, NY as part of a swap with their AHL affiliate, the Adirondack Flames.
The Flames are currently affiliated with the Colorado Eagles of the ECHL and their deal with them will expire at the end of this season, as will the Islander’s deal with Stockton. It is safe to assume that because Calgary now owns whatever team the Thunder is going to become, they will become the new affiliate for the Flames. That would in turn leave the Islanders searching for a new ECHL franchise to partner with. The ECHL may not hold the best prospects, but it has proven valuable to be affiliated with an ECHL squad in order for lower level prospects to get more ice time instead of sitting in the press box with the AHL team.
Most recently, Islanders prospect Lukas Sutter has worked his way up to Bridgeport from Stockton after being named an ECHL All-Star. Now Lukas will have the opportunity to prove himself with the Soundtigers. All in all, having an ECHL franchise below your AHL team is important for the development of low-level prospects and in some cases, ECHL alum prove to be valuable NHLers…ever heard of a guy named Jaroslav Halak?
Michael Dal Colle once again riding a hot streak
Islander’s top prospect and the OHL’s 11th leader scorer, Michael Dal Colle has been on fire lately, riding a seven game scoring streak that unfortunately came to an end in last night’s 5-2 win against the Windsor Spitfires.
During the seven games, Dal Colle scored 4 goals and recorded 6 assists for a total of 10 points. Dal Colle is no stranger to scoring streaks, as he rode a 21 game scoring streak between late October and early January, scoring 46 points during that stretch.
He has been absolutely on fire this season and his physically imposing play combined with his deadly shot make for some entertaining highlights. If you aren’t excited to see this kid play in an Islander uniform, take a look at the video below and get back to me.
My insight on prospect trading
As many of you know, this week in “#IslesTwitter” trade talk related to the deadline erupted amongst armchair GMs. We saw names such as Evander Kane and Phil Kessel thrown around, so naturally the franchise’s top prospects entered the conversation. Regardless of Garth Snow’s tendency to be pretty unpredictable, I do not believe any real impact trade takes place at this year’s deadline, let alone one involving any of the big four prospects (Dal Colle, Pulock, Reinhart, Ho-Sang).
I understand the opinion that there is no time like the present; however there are four first round picks of the rebuild era that haven’t even surfaced yet as impactful NHLers. The future is looking pretty bright and messing with that for a deadline stop gap forward doesn’t seem like the right move. Let us also keep in mind that Garth Snow loves his prospects. Another reason why I don’t see any major trade taking place is the lack of draft picks that the Islanders have to offer in one of the more talented drafts in recent history. Teams that are dumping players at the deadline are looking to improve the future of their organization and in most cases are trying to acquire early round draft picks, draft picks that the Islanders simply don’t have to offer.
With that in mind I do believe that in any scenario where a trade is made, Garth Snow may be looking to acquire a draft pick or two in the upcoming draft as the Islanders won’t be drafting until the third round as of right now. The system is overloaded with “B” level prospects and I would not count out the possibility of one or two of these prospects be moved for a second or third round pick given the hype behind this year’s draft class. Guys like defensemen Scott Mayfield and Adam Pelech carry decent value and could easily be moved in return for draft picks, as they sit behind two back to back first round draft choices in the organization, Bridgeport teammates Ryan Pulock and Griffin Reinhart. As far as forwards are concerned, there is a lot less value, however a player like Sebastian Collberg still grades well as a mid level prospect and could be used in a deal for a draft pick.
You can argue that the Islanders may be in the market for a backup goaltender, and depending on Chad Johnson’s performance in Boston tonight that may become more and more of a possibility. The market for goal tenders is bound to be pretty weak in the upcoming weeks; however teams that are selling at this year’s deadline such as Toronto and Buffalo may be willing to listen to offers regarding James Reimer or Michal Neuvirth, for example.
In the end, I wouldn’t worry too much about a top prospect being moved in a block buster trade; however I wouldn’t count out the possibility of a small deal or two for a backup net minder or draft picks.
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