We are just 15 hours away from the 1st round of the 2011 NHL Entry draft. Already some major moves have been made by the Philadelphia Flyers. Moves that quite frankly shocked myself, and the rest of the hockey world on the eve of the draft. The flyers first traded Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets for the 8th overall pick, Jakub Voracek, and a 3rd round pick. Carter had just signed a 11 year deal early last season that kicks in when the puck drops on the 2011-2012 season. His name was swirling around in the rumor mill for the better part of almost 2 weeks, and the blue jackets were the one's who were trying to acquire him. This move didn't come as much of a shock that Columbus pulled it off, but that Carter had been locked up for so many years that it seemed like he wasn't going anywhere. However, after Illya Bryzgalov's right were acquired from Phoenix you knew the flyers were gonna have to make a huge deal of this nature. Especially after locking up Bryzgalov for 9 years at just over $51 million dollars.
But after the announced trade of Jeff Carter, rumors came out of no where that captain Mike Richards was on the verge of being traded to Los Angeles. Those rumors quickly were confirmed that the kings sent Wayne Simmonds, a 2012 second round pick and top prospect Brayden Schenn to the flyers in exchange for Richards. Shocking was the fact that the flyers traded their captain who along with Carter were seen as a duo who would be part of the cornerstone in Philadelphia for years to come and maybe bring the cup back to the city. Also was the fact that the Kings made Schenn to be practically untouchable when ever approached about making a big trade in the past, caught just about everyone off guard.
Some say the Kings made this trade cause Richards could possibly be one of the final, if not THE final piece to the puzzle that gets the Kings to elite status in the already deep western conference. Also that the Kings want to win now, and Brayden Schenn who is going to be a tremendous player for many years was the key piece to making this happen. The flyers cut a ton of cap space, and get younger, while LA seems to now be a team out west that can be mentioned with the likes of San Jose, Vancouver, Detroit, Anaheim, and Chicago. Columbus finally gets that center they have needed to help Rick Nash, and if they can solve the goaltending issue as well as the defense then they could surprise a lot of people next season.
So this leaves me to wonder what will the Islanders do? 10 years ago, they were the most active team at the draft. They acquired Alexei Yashin from Ottawa, and acquired Michael Peca the following day from Buffalo. Both gave the Islanders credit instantly and star power, which they had lacked for quite sometime after previous ownership eventually forced Ziggy Palffy out of town via trade. It also showed the hockey world that the Islanders were back after so many abysmal seasons.
The Islanders need to make a big splash similar to the 2001 draft. They are in a very unique situation with the team being a player or 2 (and healthy consistent goaltedning) away from becoming a serious threat again. Their lease expires in June 2015 which is just 4 years away and they are trying to get a new arena should the august 1st referendum pass. Acquiring a big name player via trade on draft day or signing a big UFA come July 1st could help garner some major support to get the referendum vote to pass overwhelmingly. People seeing this team ready to be a contender again could get them to insure the team is still around 4 years from now and possibly be on the verge of winning a stanley cup. It's year 4 of the rebuild, and it's time to get serious. No more scraping the bottom of the barrel for free agents, and searching the waiver wire for another Matt Moulson, or Michael Grabner. Finding players like those 2 years in a row is extremely lucky. 3rd time isn't always a charm, so don't push your luck there garth. Time to play with the big boys now.
This is make or break for the Islanders. I think it's time we re-live the 2001 draft again. But this time, we must garner different results. Plus not having that buffoon milbury calling the shots makes all the difference in the world now.