New York Islanders need to solve goalie issues by bringing Jaroslav Halak back into the fold ESPN logo
Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Which teams, in retrospect, should have made deals at the deadline?

Scott Burnside: As I watching the carnival of goals in theCarolina Hurricanes' 8-4 win over the New York Islanders in Brooklyn on Monday night, I wondered: What was the plan for the Isles again? After fumbling along with a three-goalie system for the first part of the season, GM Garth Snow banished veteran Jaroslav Halak to the minors and turned the team's goaltending fortunes over to Thomas Greiss andJean-Francois Berube.

Snow couldn't find a way to turn Halak, who has one more year left on his contract, into assets at the trade deadline -- which seemed curious given the number of teams that could have used goaltending insurance for the playoffs. But now you have to wonder why Snow has refused to bring Halak back to the fold when it seems clear that Berube, who was torched for four goals on 13 shots before being replaced by Greiss on Monday, isn't at this point a viable NHL option. Berube, 25, has appeared in only 14 games and has a 3.42 goals-against average and .889 save percentage. Monday marked his first start since Feb. 19, so the Isles clearly don't have a lot of confidence in the young man.

After staying in the playoff hunt even during a mammoth nine-game road trip, the Isles couldn't have found a worse way to follow that up than Monday's embarrassing loss at home. The final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference is bound to come down to a point or two. So, we ask ourselves, what was the plan for the Islanders again?

Craig Custance: I'm with Scott. Watching the Islanders get steamrolled by the Hurricanes was just the latest reminder of the issues in goal for Snow's team. The Islanders either should have traded Halak or should use him. And why not give up the modest asking price for a winger like Thomas Vanek or Radim Vrbata to help with the offense when they had the chance? The way the Islanders played under Doug Weight indicated to me that they were worthy of re-enforcements, if for no other reason than to give the group an emotional boost. Now, suddenly, theTampa Bay Lightninghave pulled even with New York, and at this point I'd give the Bolts the edge to make the playoffs over the Islanders.

Matthew Coller: Speaking of the Lightning, they now seem to be on a path to making the playoffs. If the Bolts do snag a wild-card spot, you can imagine that GMSteve Yzerman will be kicking himself for trading Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs instead of looking to bolster his existing roster. At the time, it was absolutely the right move to deal Boyle because Tampa Bay was such a long shot to make the postseason, but he will certainly be missed for his defensive abilities and depth scoring. Even without Boyle, the Lightning will be very dangerous if they slip into the playoffs, so you can't help but wonder what they would have looked like if they kept Boyle and added another scoring winger like Drew Stafford orRadim Vrbatato the mix.

Pierre LeBrun: I can't help but wonder how many people were ready to jump on theSt. Louis Blues and Calgary Flameswith just this question, when so many believed both teams needed to go out and trade for a goaltender this season. Jake Allen struggled so badly earlier this season that the Blues gave him a mental break. Now he's lights-out again, as he showed in a huge win over theLos Angeles Kingsin L.A. on Monday night. And how about Calgary? Make it a franchise record-tying 10 wins in a row after a 4-3 shutout decision over the visiting Penguins on Monday night, and at the heart of that run? None other than Brian Elliott, written off by many earlier this season. There was pressure on both the Blues and Flames earlier this season to trade for goaltending help. Both front offices held tight. What is that saying about the best trades sometimes being the ones you didn't make?