NHL Trade Deadline: 5 Deals New York Islanders Must Consider

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Trades Islanders Must Strongly Consider

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The New York Islanders find themselves in a similar situation to the Edmonton Oilers. They have a lot of talent among their group of forwards, yet their fatal flaw is in their lack of defensive depth and quality of goaltending. What's worse? One of their top forwards and arguably their top defenseman are poised to leave in free agency if they are not traded during the season. Thomas Vanek has reportedly turned down a seven-year contract extension, while the Islanders and Andrew MacDonald remain about $1 million apart in salary negotiations. It is understood that Vanek will understand if the Islanders trade him at the deadline. MacDonald, meanwhile, has incredible value as a rental player because of his low cap hit.

How can the Islanders survive while losing two key players? Islanders GM Garth Snow must take a dual approach to the future of his club. The first is well underway: develop young and talented players internally. The Islanders own some of the most impressive names in the world of prospects, especially on defense. Griffin Reinhart and Ryan Pulock are two very talented prospects playing in Canadian juniors that could impact the Islanders roster as soon as next season. The second side of the Islanders' new approach is to be active at the trade deadline and free agency. If the team loses MacDonald, they must find a suitable replacement that they can sign long-term to fortify the club.

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5. Trade Thomas Vanek

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Moving Vanek could allow New York to fix several of their issues in net and on defense. Interested teams include the St. Louis Blues and Pittsburgh Penguins.

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4. Trade Andrew MacDonald

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MacDonald and the Islanders have been in talks for a contract extension, but a difference in salary expectations has led to many saying that he will be dealt at the deadline. MacDonald leads the entire NHL in blocked shots and plays important minutes for the Islanders, so any team seeking a defenseman to shore up their lineup should take note. The reported asking price by the Islanders is a first-round pick.

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3. Replace Andrew MacDonald

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The Islanders cannot get by on talent alone. Experience is needed to mentor their young players. There are several defensemen that could be available towards the trade deadline, including Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros. He is a pending unrestricted free agent on a team with more than six NHL-level defensemen. He is more likely to agree to a deal in the salary range that was offered to MacDonald, which would provide long-term stability. Another option would be the Sabres' Christian Ehrhoff.

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2. Fortify Forward Depth

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The loss of Vanek on the team's top line will certainly be felt. The line includes Vanek, superstar John Tavares and Team USA snub Kyle Okposo. Tavares has been able to lift the ability of any linemate including Okposo, Vanek, Moulson and Colorado Avalanche forward Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau. This is why a left winger such as Montreal Canadiens forward Rene Bourque is a good fit to replace Vanek. Though Bourque has struggled since back-to-back seasons of 50 or more points with the Flames, he has the size and grit that could complement Tavares and Okposo well.

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1. Find a Suitable Starter

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If the Islanders want to improve next year, a legitimate NHL starter is needed. Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak has been rumored to be on the way out of St. Louis, yet is still a strong goaltender who has put up exceptional numbers. If the Islanders cannot acquire Halak at the deadline, he is poised to be a free agent in the summer, as is the Anaheim Ducks' Jonas Hiller.

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