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Isles give Sabres 2015 first-rounder; reach deal with Halak

May 22, 2014, 3:23 PM EDT

Erie Otters v Guelph Storm Getty Images

As expected, the New York Islanders are keeping their first-round pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, which means they’re giving their first-round pick in the 2015 draft — the one that will feature potential superstars Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel — to the Buffalo Sabres.

All of this stems from the Thomas Vanek trade, between the Sabres and Islanders, in October of 2013.

The decision to retain the 2014 selection, even though it’s the fifth overall pick, is a big gamble for the Islanders, who will need to make the playoffs to avoid transferring a 2015 lottery pick to Buffalo.

And making the playoffs will be easier said than done for an Isles team that fell well short of the mark in 2013-14. The injury to John Tavares hurt, yes, but that wasn’t the only reason they struggled. Once again, goaltending was a weakness, a factor that necessitated the acquisition of Jaroslav Halak’s exclusive negotiating rights earlier this month.

So, not surprisingly, we also learn today that the Isles have reached a deal with Halak, as first reported by TSN’s Bob McKenzie. Apparently, it’s a four-year contract for the 29-year-old, with a cap hit of $4.5 million.

  1. imleftcoast - May 22, 2014 at 3:28 PM

    I don’t think keeping the 2014 pick is a good idea. Not that the stories are linked by more than team, but Halak for $4.5 million per season seems reasonable.

    • bennydabeata - May 22, 2014 at 4:36 PM

      King Henrik makes $5 million a year and you call $4.5 for a guy no team wanted this year a bargain?

      • 3linepass - May 22, 2014 at 4:43 PM

        try $6.8 million (cap, not sure if cash) and then next season $8.5million for like a billion years.

      • bennydabeata - May 22, 2014 at 4:59 PM

        This year he makes $5 at the tail end. I do suppose next year at $8.5 makes the argument less valid

  2. bcisleman - May 22, 2014 at 3:28 PM

    It really is NOT that much of a gamble. Goaltending was the primary reason the Isles fell short this year and they will likely be getting a quality backup behind Halak. Put all the McDavid pics up you want. BUF will not be getting him via the Isles 2015 pick.

    • miketoasty - May 22, 2014 at 4:49 PM

      Yea but it makes for great click bait. I couldn’t agree more though, Isles will be finishing closer to 15th this season than closer to 1st.

      Unless there is a ridiculously lucky lottery that pick shouldn’t hurt the Isles too much.

      • teramarus - May 22, 2014 at 6:14 PM

        Sorry, but you guys are nuts. Isles will likely be even worse this year than last year. Really bad choice. But that’s what Garth does.

      • canadiansportsfan77 - May 22, 2014 at 6:44 PM

        Would love to hear how they would be worse next year, but I assume ur just trying to troll

      • miketoasty - May 23, 2014 at 8:08 AM

        teramarus – So they are getting their best player back in Tavares (Missed the end of the season due to Olympic injury). They are playing in an arguably weaker division next year than they had this year (The Penguins will most likely not be the same team, which leaves the Rangers as the only real threat in the Metro). They will be getting a top 5 pick who may be able to start the season with the team plus any free agent pickups from this summer. Finally, they also added a goalie with some actual talent, which should make a huge difference at least in the regular season.

        I find it hard to believe with everything I just typed for them to be worse next year than they were this year, unless for some reason you think that Nabakov is a better goalie than Halak.

    • elvispocomo - May 22, 2014 at 5:16 PM

      You say that now, but there’s easily a chance the Isles don’t make the playoffs – particularly if Halak continues to have injury issues. The lottery chances would be much slimmer, and certainly not likely to be in the bottom 3 (top 3?) to have the best chance at the 1st overall.

    • axisofweasels - May 22, 2014 at 5:25 PM

      yeah! we’ll get him the ole fashioned way. by stinking up the joint.

  3. lowenni - May 22, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    I think this is a good deal for the Isles, if maybe a bit long-term. After watching Halak with the Caps I think he’s a real solid goalie and just didn’t fit in with the Blues style of play. The Isles and Caps defense is very similar (nonexistent), so he should be able to succeed there and help them maybe make a playoff push with a healthy Tavares. Given the fact that they’re picking pretty high this year and LIKELY won’t be picking that high next year, it makes sense for them to give the Sabres the 2015 first rounder. Good luck Jaro

    • jernster21 - May 22, 2014 at 4:44 PM

      What are you talking about “he didn’t fit in with the Blues style of play?” A goalies style of play is to stop the puck, regardless of whether the defense in front of him is good or bad, his job remains the same. As far as him not fitting in with the Blues – he put up excellent numbers while he was there and was a casualty of bringing in Miller – not because they didn’t want Halak, but they wanted Miller more because they thought he was the “missing piece” to a Stanley Cup. If anything, he didn’t want to be splitting time with another goalie which he did quite often with Elliott. But to say he’s going to excel in an environment where he’s hung out to dry because the defense is awful, well, we’ll see how that works out for him, but hey, he’s now the undisputed #1.

      • shaundre93 - May 22, 2014 at 5:05 PM

        Well he was at his best when he was being bombarded behind a porous habs defense… I believe some goalies are better when they face a ton of shots. Keeps em in the game I guess. He really has seemed to play better throughout his career behind less than stellar D.

      • bwayblueshirt - May 22, 2014 at 5:10 PM

        Style of play is vastly more complicated than that. Does your defense force the pass, or cover the lanes and force a shot? Do you have a strong glove, or do you use lateral momentum to get in front of the puck? Are you a stand-up goalie or a butterfly netminder? Do you handle the puck well, or rely on the defense to come back and get it? All these are crucial questions that result in teams behaving differently on the ice. Style of play is key. That’s why Lundqvist struggled early this year. He was adjusting to the team playing a vastly different game around him.

  4. islesjb - May 22, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    Curious as to why centered the article around something that was all but a certainty (we already knew they would be deferring the draft pick to next year) while speculating that the Isles could potentially give the Sabres a future superstar if they continue to suck. Shouldn’t the focus be on the Isles solidifying a deal that was far from certain and landing them a #1G that they’ve desperately needed for some time?

    Confused by your tactics.

  5. bennydabeata - May 22, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    As a Sabres fan i’d like to thank the Islanders for hiring and keeping Garth Snow employed

    • ketch20too - May 26, 2014 at 8:12 PM

      The Venak fiasco alone should be enough to have gotten Snow immediately canned. How many five year plans is going to blow through before they dump him?

  6. Jason Brough - May 22, 2014 at 3:46 PM

    Sure are a lot of confident Isles fans reading PHT today.

    • islesjb - May 22, 2014 at 3:52 PM

      Was just curios as to why you chose to take a predominately negative spin on positive news. Thumbnail of McDavid instead of Halak?

      • Jason Brough - May 22, 2014 at 3:55 PM

        It’s a cool picture.

      • islesjb - May 22, 2014 at 4:04 PM

        Reminds me of that episode of Seinfeld where the New Yorker publishes a cartoon it doesn’t understand. “I liked the kitty.”

    • lowenni - May 22, 2014 at 4:09 PM

      I think they have reason to be relatively confident. They may not make the playoffs next year, but I don’t expect them to have very good chances of winning the lottery, maybe a 11-13th place finish. After the Olympic break they won 12 games this year, without Tavares. A lot of that was because of promising players like Nelson, De Haan, Strome, Lee, and more. Not to mention guys like Griffin Reinhart who will probably be coming in this season. Add onto that a continuing successful Okposo, a growing Travis Hamonic, a healthy John Tavares, and a starting goalie signed for the next few seasons, the Isles should be able to compete next year. I’d say barring injuries to any major players, the chances of them drafting in 2015 higher than they are this year are very slim.

      • lowenni - May 22, 2014 at 4:10 PM

        (11th-13th drafting spot, I mean)

    • kaptaanamerica - May 22, 2014 at 4:14 PM

      I’m a Canucks fan and agree with the isles fans who question your focus. Why not focus on how the isles great young vote will be supplemented with a solid goalchie

      • kaptaanamerica - May 22, 2014 at 4:15 PM


  7. snipedanglecelly13 - May 22, 2014 at 3:49 PM

    Garth snow is doing a better job than your Gm…

    • bennydabeata - May 22, 2014 at 4:02 PM

      Really?! Garth traded Moulson, a first and a second for Vanek 11 games into the season (right after making the playoffs for the first time since 07 and the team was .500 at the time). Then tried to resign Vanek to a ridiculous sum and couldn’t even do that. THEN he dumped Vanek for a prospect and a second.

      Gee your GM isn’t the worst in the league?

      • kaptaanamerica - May 22, 2014 at 4:21 PM

        I’d rather a GM go for it to get a guy like Vanek who is a legit offensive threat when it looked like the team could take another step than sit on the sidelines twiddling his thumbs.

        The isles have had some success keeping players in recent years like visnovsky, nabokov.. ,. When he realized the guy wouldn’t sign he got what could for him.

        The isles could have really won big if Tavares and others had stayed healthy and they made the playoffs.

      • shaundre93 - May 22, 2014 at 5:13 PM

        If it wasn’t for that bonehead move the Isles would be in really good shape. Moulson – Tavares – Okposo had the potential to be one of the best scoring lines in the NHL for years. Add to that all the young players coming in at almost every position… all in all id say Garth isn’t doing awful. Hes built a potentially real good team there. Maybe JT can get Moulson to come back this offseason lol

    • d1211 - May 22, 2014 at 6:37 PM

      Garth Snow is the biggest idiot on the planet

  8. Don Becker - May 22, 2014 at 3:49 PM

    If the team decided to keep the 2015 pick, wouldn’t that have been a massive signal that they expect to suck their final year in Nassau County? If the team ran up the white flag on 2014-15 now, the Coliseum would be even emptier than it has been. Sending next year’s pick was the right move, Jason. Sorry you didn’t consider that angle before you hit “Save”.

    • Jason Brough - May 22, 2014 at 3:51 PM

      I didn’t say it was the wrong move. I said it was a gamble. Like trading for Vanek was a gamble.

  9. flash8910 - May 22, 2014 at 3:57 PM

    Denial is not a river in Egypt. Snow is betting that the Isles will be better next year than this year. How is that going to happen consider now they don’t have McDonald, Moulson or Vanek?

    The whole Halak thing is just stupid. They gave away a pick for his rights. When a team is rebuilding they need all the picks that they have. Also, based on the way things played out in Washington, Halak wasn’t going to resign there. With players like Niemi, Hiller and Miller on the market, I doubt there was going to be a rush on Halak. Giving any picks away for no reason is….I am calling this a “Snow job”.

    • 3linepass - May 22, 2014 at 4:10 PM

      Snow had to operate this way. by giving up the 2014 pick he would basically be waiving the white flag as someone mentioned above. I don’t know a ton about the Islanders system but from what I’ve heard/read they have some decent prospects waiting to take the step. They will be missing a 30 goal scorer, but Halak should accont for that difference in net. So basically snow is gambling on that. One thing that we might be over looking is that Wang is looking to sell and the team will be playing in NYC. All those things considered, NYC and it’s marketing benefits could (i said could) make some agents take those phone calls now for their free agent players. I’m neither bullish or bearish on the Isles, but the Sabres with 3 first round picks in 2015 will be a player in how that draft shapes up. They could easily be moving up, down and sideways with all the upcoming picks and veterans on the last year of their deals. (read: Stafford, Drew and Stewart, Chris) These are both solid decisions today in an otherwise super-questionable GM campaign for Snow. Halak’s rights for a pick probably weren’t necessary but that pick (5th round? – i forget) wouldn’t be realized for years and has a high failure rate. Little risk, decent reward.

    • rjmisles1980 - May 22, 2014 at 4:11 PM

      If you haven’t noticed, free agents aren’t exactly lining up on Hempstead Turnpike to sign with the Isles. The move was a no brainer in my mind. Isles gave up a fourth rounder that they got from Chicago for spare parts, and got the goalie they wanted. They don’t really need the draft picks because they have tons of talent in the pipeline. I may be an Islander fan, but I feel that they are much closer than you think.

    • islesjb - May 22, 2014 at 4:14 PM

      The isles are not quite ready to contend for a cup but at the same time, they’re not rebuilding. They’re well stocked with prospects and young talent (Reinhart, Pulock, Strome, Nelson, Donovan, De Haan to name a few) and are ready to transition into signing guys ready to contribute now. Halak is one of those guy.

      The pick they gave up to negotiate for Halak was the pick they received for sending two sub-par players to Chicago that weren’t going to be a part of the future (Regin and Bouchard); not a big deal. Plus, this is what the Islanders need to do to sign talent. Given their status, they can’t afford to sit back on their heels and wait for players to come to them.

      Not defending the Vanek/Moulson debacle. That was an unnecessary gamble that played out in the worst way possible.

      • c9castine - May 22, 2014 at 5:56 PM

        they need a sniper now that Snow ended up with neither Vanek or Moulson.

        james neal….good riddance…

        trade you neal for your pick this year. straight up. ok, well take travis hamonic too. need some cheap toughness on the back end help replace Orpik.

    • d1211 - May 22, 2014 at 6:35 PM

      Snow is the biggest idiot on the planet, anything he does just proves it

    • canadiansportsfan77 - May 22, 2014 at 6:53 PM

      Isles are in the middle of the rebuild. They don’t need to be stockpiling draft picks and prospects at this point, they need to be taking their youth and bringing them into the show.

      Signing a good goalie in Halak addresses the goaltending issue. If they sign a decent backup, and one strong defenseman to compliment Reinhart and their defensive end should be much stronger.

      They got the young offensive top 6. They are done the rebuild and it’s time to let the kids play

  10. stakex - May 22, 2014 at 4:45 PM

    This is the choice they had to make. Not good for ticket sales when you signal that you intend to continue sucking for the next year. That doesn’t mean though that they actually will be better this coming season.

    Honestly, I have no idea why so many Islanders fans have high expectations for their team going into next season. They have some solid pieces, and MIGHT be able to make an outside run at the playoffs…. but I can think of at least eight teams in the East that are much better teams both on paper and in practice. If the Islanders are able to make the playoffs, it would be very surprising.

  11. barkar942 - May 22, 2014 at 4:52 PM

    Hopefully this will solidify the goaltending in Long Island and help the Isles move ahead.

  12. phillyphever - May 22, 2014 at 5:05 PM

    Didn’t they learn anything from what happened to NJ not forfeiting the 29th pick when they had the chance? *If I’m wrong on this, someone correct me. I’m just going by what I read a while back*. Jersey won the lottery this year and could have selected #1. Instead, they got the 30th pick. NY, just get it done and over with. You’re gonna get the #1 pick next year anyway (considering how bad the team is).

    • nj666 - May 22, 2014 at 5:56 PM

      Actually not forfeiting the pick at all was a smart move. Considering they don’t have to forfeit one at all now.

      • phillyphever - May 22, 2014 at 8:36 PM

        Honest question: would you rather have forfeited that pick in 2012 and get that high pick this year if the NHL didn’t give the Devils that pick back as the 30th pick in this draft?

    • cantescapekarma - May 22, 2014 at 6:02 PM

      No. New Jersey won the draft in 2011 but because a team couldn’t move up more than 4 spots in the draft, they could only move up to the 4th overall pick. So Edmonton got to pick first.
      This year, they are being penalized for the Kovalchuk contract so they were given the last overall pick in the 1st round. IF they would have won (which NJ did not), then they would have drawn again, but that did not happen.
      Buffalo finished in last place this year but lost the draft lottery to (2nd to last place) Florida. So Florida moved up to 1st overall pick this draft and Buffalo will now pick #2.

      As a Buffalo fan, I definitely hope you are right about NY getting the first overall pick next year! I highly doubt NY will finish last place, but that would be an absolute dream scenario here in Buffalo if it did happen. Because then my Sabres would almost surely get the 1st and 2nd overall picks in next years draft, giving us both superstar players in the 2015 draft. The more likely scenario is Buffalo finishing dead last again and NY isles finishing just shy of the playoffs, giving Buffalo only 1 real shot at the 1st overall pick and then Buffalo will probably lose the draft lottery again and have to move down to #2 overall (again). It is very hard not to be cynical as a Buffalo fan!

  13. bleedrangerblue - May 22, 2014 at 6:12 PM

    I’m shocked they didn’t sign him for 25 years.

  14. savior72 - May 22, 2014 at 6:15 PM

    “Style of play”? I guess Miller didn’t fit with the Blues style of play either huh? Fact is a goalie who was cheaper-Elliot, was just as good AND wasn’t injury prone. I wish the best for Halak, he’s a solid goalie but still has some question marks as to his overall ability.

  15. d1211 - May 22, 2014 at 6:34 PM

    if the Islanders don’t make the playoffs and gave Buffalo either McDavid or Eichel Snow has to be burned at the stake

  16. wranglerick - May 22, 2014 at 6:42 PM

    Snow thinks the team is going to make the playoffs next year, and so do I. He did the right thing

  17. RoseTintedVisor - May 22, 2014 at 9:13 PM

    it’s like people can’t look at a move, on it’s own, and do anything but type RAWR GARTH SNOW STUPID.

    Halak is the 18th highest paid goalie in the NHL and he’s probably a top 10 netminder.

    This is a good deal.

    Re: The Pick:

    With League Average goaltending, (And you can determine this with that thing called math!) the Isles should have gotten 6 more W’s this year.

    That means blowing 6 less of the 14 3rd period leads they coughed up.

    That leaves them exactly one game out of a playoff spot.

  18. mjw9326mjw9326 - May 23, 2014 at 6:50 AM

    Wow, three number ones for the Sabres next year. They likely have an extra number two as well, if not more. Enough picks to make a deal to trade up to get McDavid if they do not win the draft lottery next year. If they are as bad as they are expected to be, they will likely be in the top five or better. ENough to dangle a couple of firsts and a second to get Mcdavid i hope.

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