Is Garth Snow the NHL’s Greatest GM in the month of June
Garth Snow became the New York Islanders GM in 2006 after retiring as the team’s backup goaltender. Since then there has been plenty of moments that Islanders fans have griped and cursed his name. Who could forget the crying Ryan Smyth, the Vanek acquisition for fan favorite Matt Moulson only to trade Vanek away for next to nothing, or the countless draft blunders that have haunted the Islanders throughout his tenure.
With all of that being said Snow has had enough redeeming moments to keep him at the helm of Islanders player personnel. What might surprise most fans is how many of those moments have come in the month of June. Let’s take a look back at some of his most finest transactions in June since 2006:
Kevin Lynch is currently playing with Syracuse Crunch in the AHL, the affiliate to the Tampa Bay Lightning. He has never played an NHL game. Andres Nilsson has bounced around from the Islanders, to the Oilers, Blues, and most recently with the Sabres. Where Snow really won this trade was Casey Cizikas. Zeeker was a part of the infamous “Best 4th Line Ever” and is still a solid contributor for the Islanders in his 6th NHL season.
Ludvig Rensfeldt has not played in North America since 2012 with OHL Sarnia. He is currently playing for Rogle BK in Sweden. Kent Simpson has appeared in 1 NHL game for the Blackhawks and most recently has been playing with the Colorado Eagles in the ECHL. Brock Nelson on the other hand has just finished his 4th season with the Islanders, reaching the 20 goal mark for the 3rd time in his career.
The Ducks used the 2013 draft pick on Denmark forward Nick Sorensen. Sorensen has appeared in 5 games for the Ducks. Last season with their AHL affiliate San Diego Sorensen had 22 points in 48 games. Visnovsky played three seasons on the island contributing secondary scoring from the blueline. More importantly he helped lead the Islanders back to the playoffs in 2012-2013.
Anders Lee, 26, just finished his best season in 2016-2017, scoring a career high 34 goals. What makes this deal so great for Snow is the 3.75 million dollar cap hit that comes along with the big bodied forward. Anders Lee should continue to see significant time with franchise center John Tavares in the future.
Tampa selected two defenseman with the two 2nd round picks they acquired from the Islanders. Snow traded back into the first round after the team selected Michael Dal Colle with the fifth overall pick. Ho-Sand debuted with a bang last season bringing an electric personality with his offensive firepower. For Tampa, Domink Masin has played the past few seasons in the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch. Jonathan MacLeod has played the last three seasons at Boston University amassing 19 points in 96 games.
Griffin Reinhart was selected 4th Overall in 2012 by the Islanders. He was a disappointment to say the least. As of 2016-2017 he has played a total of 37 NHL games and was selected by Las Vegas in their Expansion Draft on June 21st, 2017. Matthew Barzal was such an attractive prospect that the Islanders, who didn't have a 1st round pick entering the 2015 draft, traded up to number 16 overall to select him. Islanders fans must thank their lucky stars that the Bruins decided to pass on Barzal with their three previous selections in a row. Barzal is a top NHL prospect who shined in the World Junior tournament this past winter. Islanders fans should be very excited about his future.
For the second time in two years the Islanders traded two draft picks to Tampa Bay to re-enter the first round. This time however the Lightning selected two talented prospects who both put on solid performances at the 2017 World Junior Championship for Canada. Anthony Beauvillier would have been one of the premier forwards along with Matthew Barzal on that 2017 Canada Junior team if the Islanders didn't need him at the NHL level. Beauvillier was a dark horse candidate to make the NHL roster out of camp in September of 2016. He surprised fans with his speed and finishing ability as he accumulated 24 points in 66 games last season. Beauvillier looks to be an important part of the Islanders lineup moving forward.
This deal happens to be a bit more complicated because of the Expansion Draft. Most notably the Islanders left Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson and Calvin deHaan exposed in the Expansion Draft for the Vegas Golden Knights to take. Essentially what Garth Snow did was trade Jake Bischoff (a decent prospect who just finished up at the University of Minnesota), and two first round picks to take on Mikhail Grabovski’s contract and select backup goaltender J-F Berube in the Expansion Draft. Mikhail Grabovski was significant in this trade because it also freed up $5 million dollars of cap space for the Islanders to work with. Grabovski has been sidelined with concussion problems since the end of the 2015-2016 season.
A trade that might seem lopsided at first, will benefit both teams significantly. The Islanders have been searching for another Top-6 forward ever since the departure of Frans Nielen and Kyle Okposo last summer. This one for one trade fulfills that need for the Islanders. Eberle has been rumored to the Islanders for what seems like a millennium. He was a great contributor for the Oilers, producing 382 in 507 NHL games. Eberle also has chemistry with Islanders center John Tavares from when they played together in the 2009 World Junior Championship for Canada. The Islanders expect Eberle to take on a 1st line role with the team next season. Ryan Strome will probably be remembered as a disappointment for Islanders fans after his 50 point rookie campaign in 2013-14. A change of scenery will benefit both of these players who are coming off of seasons filled with ridicule from their local media. The trading of Jordan Eberle also freed up 4 million dollars that they Oilers will be able to possibly re-sign defenseman Kris Russell.
So is Garth Snow the NHL’s Greatest GM in the month of June? I don't know. And honestly, who cares? The point is that something about the beginning of summer helps Garth Snow work his best magic. Who knows what lies ahead for Garth Snow and the New York Islanders.