The New York Islanders went to the well one too many times, and this time it cost them. The surrender of a fifth round pick is hardly the end of the world, but to give away a draft choice and receive nothing in return is bad business.
Earlier this offseason the Islanders employed this tactic to acquire their new starting goaltender, Jaroslav Halak, from the Washington Capitals. The Isles traded a draft choice for the rights to negotiate with Halak prior to him becoming an unrestricted free agent in July, about a week later the team signed the 29 year old netminder to a 4 year, $18 million deal.
They then pressed their luck by trading away a fifth round pick to the San Jose Sharks to acquire the rights to 37 year old unrestricted free agent to be Dan Boyle (Boyle will be 38 when the season starts). Boyle has since declared that he will not be signing with the team.
The question I’d like to ask Isles GM Garth Snow is why was Boyle worth a fifth round gamble? Boyle is an established NHL veteran who has long been a staple along the blue line of quality Sharks teams, a franchise that has qualified for the playoffs every year since his arrival. In the twilight of his career why would he be inclined to join a rebuilding Islanders franchise if there are other, potential championship caliber, options awaiting him in free agency?
The risk was worth it for Halak. Halak is a younger player, in the prime of his career (the type of player the Isles have a very difficult time luring to the Island), who has proven he is an NHL caliber goalie, but has never had the type of stability, and guaranteed playing time, the Isles will be able to provide him with.
Boyle, on the other hand, has nothing left to do in his NHL career except win a Stanley Cup. Even the most optimistic Islander fan does not foresee the team winning the Cup next season and at Boyle’s age he doesn’t have time to wait for the Isles to develop or bring in top level talent. This was never the right situation for the player, and ultimately Boyle would have been a stopgap, at best, before the Isles could take the next step as a franchise.