|Selected for a reason...|
Things started to pick up a little bit on Wednesday afternoon, when the Islanders shipped the rights to Mark Streit over to Philadelphia for a 4th-round pick and a prospect, who is not expected to be retained. As I stated two days ago, I think it was a solid move by Garth Snow, who translated nothing into something. Although Streit was the Islanders' top point-producer from the blue-line, he was no longer the top defenseman on the Island, which remains an open need for the Isles.
It's understandable for Islanders' fans to be calling for Garth Snow to fill the void in his organization. It must also be equally understood that a top defenseman is hard to come by, especially in today's NHL. You may, once again, not love what I have to say, but surprise, surprise....the Islanders must remain patient when looking for a top-defenseman, and their best options may come from within their system.
Top defensemen don't grow on trees. Every team has a "best" defenseman, but not every team has a "top" defenseman. Unfortunately, the Islanders fall into the category of teams without a "top" defenseman. Is it their fault? Not really, as long as you're ready to drop the whole "Zdeno Chara" thing. Teams don't usually just get a top defenseman, and I wouldn't expect the Islanders to get one this summer.
No, it won't be for a lack of effort - Garth Snow has shown time-and-time again that he is willing to add a defenseman to improve this team - but top defensemen aren't made readily available just because we desire one.
Free agency isn't looking too hot this summer. Sure, a few names will be floating around on the market that may be able to improve the Islanders. Certainly, the Islanders won't be overspending for the services of Rob Scuderi or Marek Zidlicky with the intention of calling either one of them a "top" defenseman.
And just because we can name a few guys off the top of our heads that we would love to add from the Island doesn't mean their respective teams are willing to part with them. I would love to see Alex Pietrangelo in an Isles' uniform, but you better believe St. Louis is going to do everything they can to lock him up. I can name Duncan Keith, Shea Weber, and Ryan Suter as defensemen that I would love to see as a member of the New York Islanders, but just because we say it, doesn't mean it's doable.
Let's face it: If the New York Islanders want to find a "top" defenseman, they are going to have to find him from within. It's how most teams do it, anyways. Outside of the rare exception, top defensemen are usually drafted and groomed by the team that selects them.
Shea Weber was drafted and made into an All-Star by the Nashville Predators. Erik Karlsson and Mike Green were both selected by, and blossomed with, the Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals, respectively. Duncan Keith? He is a Blackhawk for life.
Rather than spend big money for a guy that isn't going to be a comparable to one of the names I have mentioned (and be honest - the names available aren't comparable), they probably aren't worth the investment this summer; and, any of those names I mentioned to be tradeable assets are never going to be made available by their respective clubs.
The Islanders drafted Griffin Reinhart, a defenseman, with their 4th-overall pick in 2012. They also drafted Calvin de Haan, a defenseman, with the 12th-overall pick in 2009. A defenseman could once again be added into the mix on June 30th; plus, the Islanders have Travis Hamonic on their main roster, to go along with several other shutdown-style guys in Bridgeport.
We're just going to have to let them develop.
There's no point in spending top money on the defensemen that will be made available this summer, just to say "we got our top defenseman." There's also no point in trading assets for a quick fix, especially one that probably isn't even available because, again, top defensemen aren't just traded.
Top defensemen, like many Islanders' fans desire, are few and far between in today's NHL. I'm not saying they cannot be acquired, but it is often rare that they're made available. Teams covet them, and for good reason. If one happens to fall into your lap, you do everything you can to keep him.
The Islanders will stay the course, and continue developing what they have. Down the line, Islanders' fans will have their top-D-man, but he will be homegrown and cherished by the Islanders' faithful. All it requires is patience.
I'm Chris Triants, and this is my blog.
Let's go Islanders!