The trade deadline ended last week but I missed some things in the aftermath. I’ll give my opinion on a few notable trades that also yielded extensions. There were a few other major stories around the NHL that I found worth mentioning. Happy Monday!
1. Clarity on Long Island
Before I go any further, I’m told “On Long Island” is the correct phrasing, rather than “In Long Island.” If you have any complaints, please leave them in the comments.
And it’s on Long Island the New York Islanders will play their home playoff games in 2020 and all of their regular-season home games during the 2020-21 season before their new arena in Belmont Park opens the following year.
This ends the long, tumultuous relationship between the Islanders and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. When the Barclays Center opened, the Islanders began playing home games there in 2015. Many fans complained because the arena had poor sightlines for hockey (it was built for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets) and was a far trip for fans based on Long Island (especially with New York traffic).
Last season, the NHL announced that the Islanders would play home games in both arenas. The Nassau Memorial Coliseum hosted the first round of last year’s playoffs, with the Islanders playing the second round in Brooklyn. After this year’s regular season, the Islander will not return to Brooklyn and will play the rest of their home games on Long Island.
This is great for Islanders fans. While I hear the Nassau Memorial Coliseum is not the best arena, Islanders fans love it and it’s close to where they live. Getting to Brooklyn from Long Island cannot be fun and is probably very difficult for most fans. This is a great move by the NHL to reward long-suffering Islanders fans to give them what they want. Thankfully, they will be rewarded with a sparkling, new arena soon that’s closer to home.
2. Bobby Ryan Returns to the Ice
Bobby Ryan last played in an NHL game on November 15th, 2019. Soon after, he entered rehab for alcohol-related issues. Ryan made his long-awaited return to the Sens last week on Wednesday in Nashville. On Friday, Ryan did this in his first game back in Ottawa against the Cancucks.
There are no words for moments like these.
It’s great to have you back, Bobby! pic.twitter.com/JYdcMIpCuj
— NHL (@NHL) February 28, 2020
He scored a hat trick. I’m usually not one for emotional storylines, but this was awesome to see. Ryan has dealt with a tremendous amount of personal trauma throughout his life. The increased pressure of living up to a large contract probably hasn’t helped his mental health. It’s great to see the city of Ottawa and the hockey community rally around him and support him in a time of need. Congrats to Ryan for getting back on the ice and scoring a few goals to remind us all he can still light the lamp.
3. Pageau Signs Extension to Stay ON Long Island
One of the trades I didn’t mention last week was the one of Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Pageau is in the midst of a breakout year, having scored 24 goals in 60 games for Ottawa. He was an impending free agent and the Senators explored signing him to an extension. Obviously, the two sides couldn’t get a deal done so they traded him to the Islanders.
Similar to Mark Stone, the second Pageau arrived on Long Island, he and the team agreed to a six-year, $30 million extension. Funny how it happened so fast!
After thinking about it for a bit, I like this deal for the Isles. They’re putting together a nice core and needed scoring up the middle. Pageau fits that need. The term and dollars work well, too. Pageau is 27 years old, so he will be 34 years old when this deal expires. He will be locked down on Long Island for his entire prime. I really love the dollar amount. While Pageau is definitely worth of a $5 million AAV, he would have fetched more on the open market. I would have bet on him signing for an AAV in the $6 million to $6.5 million range. So, the Islanders came out ahead here.
The Islanders are building something on Long Island and Pageau is going to be a big part of it, for a very fair and reasonable price.
4. Nylander Shows Some Skill
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I like to keep one or two of my takes light each week. Sometimes showing a sick goal or reviewing a jersey. Being serious all the time isn’t fun. In this column, I wanted to highlight one of the cooler goals I saw from last week’s action.
Sick goal by William Nylander pic.twitter.com/Hh5cyBWcBw
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) February 26, 2020
It’s skills like this that makes the Maple Leafs such a cool young team. I’m sure the second they start winning consistently everyone will hate them. But they’re still fun.
I’m happy to see Nylander have such a bounceback year after the trainwreck that was last year. It’s obvious he’s put the holdout and poor season behind him and is rewarding us with goals like this one.
5. Kreider to Spend Another Seven Years in NYC
Unlike Pageau, Chris Kreider and his current team, the New York Rangers, were able to agree to an extension to keep him around. The two sides settled on a seven-year contract with a $6.5 million AAV. Kreider will hit free agency again at 37 years old.
I do not like this deal as much as I like Pageau. Yes, Kreider has reached the 20-goal plateau five times And he’s done it on primarily bad teams. That being said, I don’t think he is worth a $6.5 million AAV. There are a lot of players much better than him that make that much or less money. If he continues to score 20-30 goals and help the Rangers make the playoffs, he may be worth it. I’m not certain he will as he’s starting to get old and will most likely begin to decline during this contract. When I think about this deal, the contracts of Justin Abdelkader and David Clarkson come to mind. Kreider is much better than those two, but that’s the vibe I get. The Rangers better hope he doesn’t or else they going to be miserable trying to trade him in his mid-thirties with little to no trade value. ■