Game 82: The Why-Landers vs. the Dead Wings

By Danny Radical

The regular season ends for two teams today, one of the rare games in this NHL season where both teams are packing their bags and heading home after the game to watch some playoff hockey on the TV. Understand, that's not a usual thing, as 16 teams out of 31 make the playoffs. Only one other game features double losers, when the Edmonton Oilers suck it up versus the Vancouver Canucks. Congratulations guys!


In the Western Conference loser set I'm pulling for Edmonton. Let the Oilers get useless points so maybe they'll leapfrog past the Islanders for a better end of season record, just like Chicago did recently. The higher the opportunity for the odds for the top lottery pick, the better.

But that Isles- Red Wings game: The Battle of Who Gives a Shit? Detroit will be in a spot where a win or a loss doesn't matter, but the Islanders may have a shot for gaining one higher choice in round one, so whereas I am not rooting for an Islanders loss, I will not be heartbroken if it happens. I remember when a win on the last day of the season moved the Islanders from the 5th pick to the 6th, and from choosing Jaromir Jagr in the draft to Scott Scissions. The great Scott Scissions and his 2 career NHL games, versus Jagr who retired just this season.


We're at the point of the season where we can look at what went wrong for both teams, and maybe ponder how these teams can reload for next year.

The Red Wings are old. 20 years ago it was ok to load up on older players, as the game was slower and the players were more cerebral. Listening to interviews from years ago and then now is like listening to a valedictorian speech from Harvard versus the kid from your local middle school.

The Red Wings have ten starters over 30, and 2 more getting awfully close. They're an old team. And on top of that, they're a veteran team with veteran contracts. And veteran contracts come in one of two forms: very little, or crazy millions. The Red Wings have the former.

The Red Wings are in salary cap hell. They have one of the highest payrolls in the NHL- they're in the top 33% of the league and had less than $500,000 in cap space on the season. They have about $10 million coming off of the cap for next year, which isn't much considering they need to replace a goalie, a defenseman, and 6 forwards, 5 of whom are restricted free agents including Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin.


They also have about $5.5 million in buyout and long term injured reserved money lingering around the team for the next two years, which is a bit of a bummer, but also a bold move to keep a player on LTIR instead of trading him away with a 1st and 2nd round draft pick and a prospect just to get rid of one year of a contract.

The Red Wings have lots of draft picks coming up, four 1st round picks and 3 seconds in the next two seasons. Those are potential trade chips, but with the cap hell Ken Holland has created, they're most likely to be used the same as the 11 draft picks Detroit gathered last year- franchise reloading.

Personally, I don't think the Red Wings can reload for next year with all of the long term deals to aging veterans handed out in Detroit. The Red Wings are going to stink in 2018-19, 2019-20, and possibly 2020-21 before things get better. And with Detroit legend Mike Illitch not involved in creating winning, the Red Wings may fall victim to hands off ownership who let the team rust because it's not their priority.

Not that Islander fans have ever seen such. Surely their last 4 owners weren't about acquiring the team to gain land in Nassau County! <Lighthouse! Cough! Belmont! Cough!>


And speaking of the Islanders, their season can be summed up in one word: abortion. That sounds rough, but look at this list of season highlights:

- Three 20 goal scorers
- Two point a game players
- Two 30 goal scorers
- Career high in points for Defensemen Thomas Hickey and Ryan Pulock
- Two more guys knocking on the 20 goals doorstep

You want to know the last team that had two point-a-game players that missed the NHL playoffs? The 2009-2010 Tampa Bay Lightning. What happened after the season? New General Manager, new Head Coach, new coaching staff.
And the last Islanders team with two point a game players? Lost to Montreal in the Wales Conference Finals. Which brings me to the next point.

What was the end game of the coach? Scoring? Here are the highlights of the Dough Weight era: On New Years Day 2018, the Islanders had the 2nd best offense in the NHL, and the3rd worst defense. Presently, the Islanders have the 7th best offense in the NHL, and the worst defense. None of those things are trending positively.

Looking at the prospects in the Islanders organization, they have the two best since Gretzky and Coffey. Well, #IslesKoolAid says so. And so did the moronic GM Garth Snow.


The Islanders have Keifer Bellows as their top forward prospect. Bellows leapfrogged the top offensive prospect Michael Dal Colle and the top offensive prospect Joshua Ho Sang in the race to top offensive prospect. I think that I have a different view as what is considered offensive as compared to the Garth Snow "Unaccountable" tour.

Now, #IslesKoolAid will say "Look at Barzal! Home Run! Look At Beau! 20 goal scorer!" Both true. But I have questions.
Barzal looks very legitimate. But...doesn't his excessive puck handling remind you of...oh, say Joshua Ho Sang?

Yes, I have a bias because Ho Stank took a picture with me in September. And the bias will be to protect his alleged state of sobriety. But his play? Whole different story. His points per game? Better at his age than the $5 million dollar man Josh Bailey was. Defensively responsible? How's Nick Leddy doing?


And surging mid 6 forward Beauvillier? Wasn't he a 4th line center last year? Why was he there wasting away? Because maybe the same GM that demoted Matthew Barzal had no idea how to instruct his lackey coach to balance time between talent and bad contracts?

And Devin Toews better be the best defenseman coming from the Isles ranks since Denis Potvin. Why? Because Garth Snow blamed Toews AHL injury as the reason that the Islanders were missing the playoffs by 500 points. If he's right, then why didn't Toews make the team out of camp. Or if he's wrong, and he is, why isn't Snow held accountable for his mismanaging a roster?

Devin Toews- come one down! You're the next excuse on "The Garth is Wrong!"

So how is Garth employed?

Rumor says that Charles Wang gave Garth a contract extension before the team was sold so that it would be the financial burden of the new owners if they tried to fire Snow.


To clarify- Wang made a contract that was injurious to the team to remove a general manager that was injurious to the team. Because it's about winning, right?

Nah. It's about pride. And ego. And about losing the Lighthouse because you weren't transparent, then being passive aggressive like a little boy because you didn't get your way, so you stamped your rich feet. Just like you did with Old Plainview. A sanitarium is now a supermarket. Well done.

The Islanders have prospects. They are overrated by #IslesKoolAid who are emboldened by Matthew Barzal, but the history says that they'll range from bust to bottom 4 D, bottom 6 F.

So where are the Islanders next year? That all depends on two things: who is the general manager? Who is the head coach?

Because despite the impending free agency of John Tavares, the most important additions to the team would be at general manger and head coach.


John Tavares is replaceable. Not today, no. But at $11 million? Sure. There are players that can put up 60 points for $6 million and allow another player to join the defense at $4m to play strong defense and tighten up the defense, and leave extra money over to improve the team.

I'm not saying Stanley Cup caliber team, but the Snow Islanders are no contender. However, if Matthew Barzal is legitimate, then he is your first line star at under a million dollars, followed by your second line center w 60 points at $6m- Matt Duchene? And that's only a short term loss as Tyler Seguin is available in 15 months.

Then there's the missing defenseman and goaltender. With the non-Tavares money, you can trade Greiss and picks for Holtsby for a cap exchange of only $3 million. You can use the Tavares gain plus the Kulemin and DeHaan loss to trade for and sign Eric Karlsson for $9 million a year.

You can hope Keifer Bellows is good. You can promote showboat Joshua Ho Sang. Both are money saving moves. You can say goodbye to Shane Prince and Alan Quine. Both are money saving moves.


Understand, this is all flight of fancy. Why? Because until Garth Snow is gone, here's what will happen:

- Brock Nelson will get a 3 year, $9 million extension
- Ryan Pulock will get a 3 year, $9 million extension
- Shane Prince and Alan Quine will be extended
- Christopher Gibson will be offered 2 years at $2 million
- John Tavares will refuse any offer less than $11 million a year
- Islanders will miss the playoffs because nothing changed
- The Islanders will lose either Anders Lee or Jordan Eberle in 2019 because of the cap hit. Maybe both
- The Islanders will trade 3 players to retain RFA Matthew Barzal, making the team weaker
- The 2021 Islanders will begin rebuild 23 centered at supporting Matthew Barzal, which will go as well as the rebuild around John Tavares went.
- In 2021, Matthew Barzal will leave the Islanders with a team record of 37-37-8 to go find playoff hockey.
- In 2022, Ledecky and Malkin will sell the Belmont Arena, and also the team rights to Quebec. The Islanders become the Nordiques, move to Quebec, and the Quebecois will make revenue from events in the most western of Nassau.
- In 2023 Kate Murray eats Nassau Coliseum in the complete sweep of a fat Rangers fan. Bullets can't stop it. Rockets can't stop it. We may have to use nuclear force!
- Garth reminisces of having Nathaniel Lawson as pretzel vendor, eats Nathaniel Lawson.


So the first step towards the Islanders improvement, even before Tavares, is a culture change. Accountability must be implemented across the organization. If it costs you a star player, so be it. But Tavares is on record as saying he wants to win, and maybe if the organization shows that they want to win too, it would be worth more than any paycheck any team could write him. #SnowMustGo

And check out our gaming partner for the Radical Picks for Game 82 of the season:

Lee Tavares Eberle will score a goal
Teams combine for over 5 goals
Islanders forwards score more than 2.5 goals