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January 17, 2017 | 8:37pm ET
Isles owners evaluating overhaul
Letting Jack Capuano go as coach might be the first of many major moves the New York Islanders make over the next several months.

TORONTO, ON -- For the last few weeks, we've been hearing whispers the owners of the New York Islanders, John Ledecky and Scott Malkin, have been going through a thorough organizational evaluation, from head to toe.

Many have reported t
he club exploring the possibility of bringing on a President of Hockey Operations, to oversee the team's on-ice dealings, and while that's most certainly still the case, Ledecky and Malkin appear to be moving towards a complete revamp of the organization's brain trust, which could affect their AHL club almost as much as the NHL club.

Today, the first domino fell. This afternoon, the Isles fired head coach Jack Capuano, with Doug Weight taking over on an interim basis. Islanders GM Garth Snow, who gave Capuano a vote of confidence in mid-November, made it sound like the decision to relieve Capuano of his duties came from above, and it certainly looks that way.

Snow told the media they plan on looking at every option for a new, full-time bench boss, but the organization has much more to worry about than who its next coach will be.

As I reported earlier in the season -- and this should come as no surprise to anyone -- the Islanders' biggest concern revolves around the future of superstar John Tavares. They need to keep this guy happy. They need to show him they're on the right path towards Stanley Cup contention. He has one-year left on his contract after this season. So far, what incentive does he have to stick around beyond the 2017-18 campaign?

The Isles have been trying to find Tavares a long-term wingmate forever. Their kids haven't gotten the job done and the search continues. That's not good.

Capuano's out. Weight's in, for now. Okay. Now what?

Well, it looks like Snow is sticking around for the rest of the regular-season, at least. Beyond that?

"I'm not hiding from the fact that it starts with me," Snow said in today's media conference call. "I don't even worry about that. I just focus on what I need to do on a day-to-day basis."

That's the right mentality to have, so that's a bit of a positive. Whether the Isles bring a top dog to overall all of the hockey operations department remains to be seen, obviously, but it's starting to sound more and more like Snow's time is running out.

Does that mean Ledecky and Malkin have already made up their minds? No, not necessarily. He's certainly being given time to right the ship. But how does he go about that?

Everyone will automatically point to the Isles losing right wing Kyle Okposo and center Frans Nielsen, two now-All-Stars, in free agency, and New York's attempt to replace Okposo, at least, by signing Andrew Ladd to a seven-year, $38.5 million contract, with a full no-movement clause in the first four seasons, has, to date, failed.

The criticism is just. And Snow isn't afraid to take it. But he has six-weeks until the trade deadline and -- if he's still around -- about five months until the NHL Draft in Chicago (the other trading season) so fix a number of the team's problems, including its goaltending.

Oddly enough, the Isles are eighth in the NHL in goals-per-game (2.83), but 24th in goals-against (2.98). They're scoring plenty, but they can't keep the puck out of their own net. And a 17-17-8 record isn't horrendous -- but in the highly competitive East, all of a sudden, it's not nearly good enough.

So what happens? Again, the priority here is your captain. What reason does he have to sign an eight-year, $80 million contract extension in Brooklyn (other than the cash)? He can lock in a seven-year deal elsewhere worth between $10 million and $11 million, per season, and depending on state/provincial tax implications, he could end up taking more home at the end of the day.

If Garth Snow keeps his job beyond this season, putting the right pieces around Tavares is key. If the team's goal is a roster teardown, after dishing out big contracts to Ladd, Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk, then if I'm JT, I'm peacing the hell out of town.

Now, I don't think that's going to happen -- the teardown, that is -- but it's up to Snow and his staff to turn this puppy around. If they creep into playoff contention in the coming weeks, great. But whether that happens or not, the same goal is in affect.

The Islanders' most tradable roster player, outside of Tavares, is Travis Hamonic.

With Calvin De Haan seeing regular ice time and Adam Pelech now seeing more of it, Hamonic should be more available, given the need to get a stud on Tavares' wing. Granted, you're going to have to add an extra piece or two, good ones, with Hamonic, but what have you got to lose? I'm a big fan of Anders Lee. I love Casey Cizikas' energy. Ryan Strome? Maybe. Josh Bailey? Expendable. Brock Nelson? Movable.

The Isles have overvalued many of their prospects, and while almost every team is guilty of that, they can afford to package a combination of a young roster player with a younger prospect, and Hamonic, for a top line winger. It's time to be bold.

Gabe Landeskog could be a solid addition, and despite his off season (like everyone's having in Colorado), the right deal could help change things up. Matt Duchene will cost much more. There are options out there, and I'm not going to dissect every one of them, but Snow has options. The problem is that such a move might be better suited for the summer.

Bottom line: if Tavares decides to walk in less than 18 months, it's likely due to a lack of top-tier talent playing alongside him, and whether Snow's there to make that ultimate decision won't be known for another few months.


Tab Bamford, TFP's Chicago Correspondent and Columnist, and I speak often -- okay, we text -- over the happenings around the NHL and it often leads to some kind of trade speculation. A few weeks ago, Tab brought up a suggestion: Would the Philadelphia Flyers consider moving winger Wayne Simmonds in a deal that resulted in Corey Crawford going to Philly?

At the time, I didn't think much of it. Obviously, the deal would need to be larger, likely to include Steve Mason, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent July 1, along with a very strong asset in order to pry Crawford from Chicago.

But with the Flyers struggling mightily lately, and Chicago's faith in Scott Darling increasing with each game he plays, this might be an avenue both teams explore.

Simmonds is locked into an affordable contract ($3.975 million cap hit) and has two years left on his deal after this season, and could fill a void in Chicago's top-six. He has a limited no-trade clause and might have a say, but so would Crawford, who comes with a $6 million cap hit and three years left after this season and owns a no-movement clause with a limited no-trade list.

It's worth exploring for the Flyers, that's for sure, who have had questions in goal for eons.

And while losing Simmonds would hurt, the Flyers might not need to look too far for a replacement.

The Flyers are being linked to Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane again. He has one-year left after this season at $5.25 million, and could fit in nicely. But the asking price might begin with 23-year-old Shayne Gostisbehere, and the Flyers would need to add about $4 million in salary (Matt Read?) in order to make that happen.

There will be additional parts in a Simmonds-Crawford deal, and a Kane-Gostisbehere deal, but are the Flyers better off with Crawford in goal and Kane on the wing than they are with Mason between the pipes and Gostisbehere on the blueline? A top-tier goalie certainly makes a world of difference.

Just a crazy thought.

David Pagnotta is the Editor-in-Chief of The Fourth Period. Follow him on Twitter.



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Nov. 22, 2016 Players in the dark as NWHL fails to provide answers

Nov. 18, 2016 NWHL hit with bad news

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