The New York Islanders are doing everything they can to re-sign star forward John Tavares, which includes their attempt to build a new stadium, their hopes for a solid playoff run and now New York Posts’ Brett Cyrgalis writes that the team should consider taking advantage of the Ottawa Senators struggles and blow the team away with an offer for star defenseman Erik Karlsson.
The scribe writes that the Islanders are a perfect destination for the franchise defenseman, who recently told the press that he will not take a hometown discount after his contract expires in 2019. Many feel that the Senators nor their owner would want to pay as much as $11MM per year to retain him for the next eight seasons, especially after the team might be looking at a rebuild. Karlsson will be 29 when he is eligible to sign a new deal and if the team starts over again, there aren’t many good reasons to keep the star around. However, the Islanders are a team with assets and a will to win, especially if that might prove valuable to locking up Tavares.
Cyrgalis suggests the team offers top prospect Joshua Ho-Sang, one of the team’s 2018 first-rounders and second-rounders (they have two of each next year) and a few smaller pieces as the framework to the deal. The deal might vault the Islanders up a few pegs in the standings and create a dominant core of the future in New York.
- Cyrgalis also wrote a piece about the amount of playing time that has been handed to New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. The goalie, who has played both ends of back-to-back games twice in the last two weeks, says he prefers it that way as the more he plays, the more relaxing it is mentally for him to play in the net. The 35-year-old does admit, however, it’s harder on him physically to play so many minutes. “Physically, it’s more challenging,” Lundqvist said. “But mentally, it’s easier, I find. The biggest part to the game is the mental aspect.”
- Philly.com’s Marc Narducci writes that one reason the Philadelphia Flyers have improved could be the transition of Claude Giroux from center to left wing this season. Giroux has been paired with Sean Couturier this season on the team’s first line and while in many ways the transition to a wing spot has been a success, the 29-year-old admitted that it wasn’t that easy earlier this year. “I think it was an adjustment early on in the season,” Giroux said. “Now being on the wing the entire time, you get a little more comfortable on the wall or even in the neutral zone defensively.”
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Jason Mackey writes that the play of Pittsburgh Penguins’ defenseman Matt Hunwick has actually improved since he suffered a concussion earlier this year. The 32-year-old blueliner signed with the team this offseason to provide defensive depth. He has been playing with the team since Nov. 18 after missing 15 games due to a concussion, but has actually played even better since missing time. He has three goals on the season since the concussion, most among Penguin defenders. Hunwick was a 42.6 percent possession player before the concussion, which has now increased to a 51.6 percent in the past 12 games and a 58.6 in the last five games. Unfortunately, that hasn’t translated well in the win column for the team, but it does make the team’s chances better.