After reaching the playoffs last spring, the New York Islanders have taken a huge step back this season.
They stagger into St. Louis with a seven-game losing streak. They earned just two points during that span while sinking toward the Eastern Conference basement.
Change is desperately needed. The earlier trade for proven scorer Thomas Vanek – a pending unrestricted free agent – did not jump-start the offense.
Meanwhile young goaltenders Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson are failing to hold the fort at the other end of the ice. Nilsson is getting the call in tonight’s game.
General manager Garth Snow is on the prowl for goaltending help. Here are some options:
Buffalo Sabres: Pending UFA Ryan Miller may go on the block if the new management team opts not to extend his contract. The Islanders have expressed interest in the past, but would the team really pay a high trade price without getting Miller signed to a new deal? And would Miller really commit to the Islanders without testing the marketplace?
Anaheim Ducks: Pending UFA Jonas Hiller has become expendable with two other netminders (Viktor Fasth and Frederik Andersen) fitting better into the team’s long-range plans. Hiller could jump in and use this opportunity to boost his market value.
Carolina Hurricanes: They are currently carrying three goaltenders with Cam Ward healthy again. Justin Peters had been the No. 3 man, but he has played well filling in. He seems unlikely to clear waivers. He or Anton Khudobin could move to the trade block. Newsday notes that the Islanders showed interest in Khudobin before and that Evgeni Nabokov could be an excellent mentor for him.
St. Louis Blues: Young Jake Allen is biding time with the Chicago Wolves, where he is 9-5-2 with a 2.30 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage. His success in the AHL and Jaroslav Halak’s success in the “walk year” of his contract has other teams keeping an eye on Brian Elliott.
The Islanders could also use some help on the blue line. And they could use some supplemental scoring.
For more on the Islanders and other news, notes and links, check out my posting on STLToday.com.