It is being speculated that Oliver Eckman-Larsson will be on the trade block this winter. Surprisingly there has been debate as to whether the Islanders need to look at acquiring the defenseman from Arizona. As Larry Brooks brought up in his column, this is the time for the Isles to strike. This team has shown enough success early in this season that adding a player with the talent of an OEL becomes an easy decision. OEL would step right in as this team’s most dependable defenseman. This is a team that desperately needs a top defenseman. Currently they Isles have a bunch of second, and third pairing defenseman, OEL would change that and give them a true top defenseman to go along with Nick Leddy. This is the type of move a team looking to make the jump from playoff contender to cup contender would make.
If this trade is made, the trade will hurt. There will be players that have to go to Arizona that many people believe will be the future of this team. This Isles may be dealing from a position of strength in order to acquire one of the best defenseman in the game. It is part of the team’s maturation process. Players that are seen as the future will end up being the future somewhere else. While the Coyotes organization has changed since they traded Keith Yandle, it is still a good example to look at since the situation is similar. Both OEL and Yandle (have) had a year and a half on their contracts which allows teams to pay more because they would get two playoff runs out of those players. There is little argument that OEL is a better player than Yandle and there is no obvious replacement for him after he is traded. But taking a look at the structure of the Rangers Coyotes deal may give some clues as to what a potential deal looks like.
The first player acquired by Arizona was John Moore. Moore finished the season with Arizona and then moved onto New Jersey as a free agent. He was nothing more than a lineup replacement for Yandle. There may be a similar motive for Arizona to fill out their lineup and also make sure they reach the cap floor after trading away one of their highest priced players. That would mean players like Thomas Hickey, Dennis Seidenberg or Scott Mayfield may fill that role. In addition, as of now the Isles have eight defensemen on the roster (and none can be sent to Bridgeport without waivers), moving one of the rostered defenseman will be required if the deal takes place.
At the time Anthony Duclair was the Rangers top prospect. After completing a gold medal victory for Canada in the World Juniors, he was looked at as a player that would be a big piece of the Coyotes future. While draft picks can help build a winning team, it is nice to be able to get a player fans can get excited about in return. I don’t think the Isles have anyone who could be considered that caliber a prospect at this time (Barzal would absolutely be a deal breaker at this point in time). It may take a combination of Josh Ho-Sang, Anthony Beauvillier and Ryan Pullock. This part of the trade will hurt the most but this may be the most important piece.
The next piece of the trade is the draft picks. Any trade of this magnitude has draft picks associated with it. In this particular deal I would imagine this would be the other focal point of the deal. To get Yandle, the Rangers had to give a first and second round pick. Again, I feel it would cost the Isles more than that to get OEL. This is the biggest strength the Isles have in these negotiations. They currently have two first rounders and two second rounders which would be critical for acquiring such a player.
The final parts of this trade will be different in structure then our example. These may be miscellaneous pieces that could take this trade in a different direction. Brock Nelson, while some have placed him in the trade, this is far from a guarantee. Nelson is a polarizing player, while his career goal numbers look enticing to a team, he does not always pass the eye test. The question with him would be how much Arizona likes him. There is no doubt he would step into Arizona and be one of their better players and it’s safe to say that trading Nelson for OEL is something most fans can handle. The next interesting case is Calvin deHaan. As a pending ufa he would have almost no value to Arizona unless they can flip him. deHaan may end up being the type of player moved in order to recoup some of the assets they have to give up to get OEL. The final pieces are Sebastian Aho, Devon Toews, and Kieffer Bellows, all three are unknown on the NHL level. Many believe that Aho, and Toews could step in if the Islanders need them. Trading any of those three may not hurt until they develop in the future. Lastly the Isles need to look at any other players from Arizona coming to Brooklyn. The only players that I can see meaning anything coming over are Brad Richardson and Anti Raanta with both of them being a stretch. Richardson would only make sense if a more than one active roster forward goes in the deal, and Raanta would not be a definitive improvement in net.
This is the biggest move the Islanders can make. While some may say that goaltending is the bigger need, that is not really an option at this point in time. No player (that may be traded) would make the impact on this time like OEL. The opportunities to get players at his level come few and far between, good teams are not in position to pass on players of this caliber.