With the trade deadline approaching, one can only wonder which moves the Islanders are going to make down the stretch. While a handful of big names have been mentioned in trade rumors, including Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan and Jerome Iginla, it is doubtful a player of their caliber will end up on Long Island.
However, which players will the Islanders look to move?
Will they be buyers or sellers?
Not much is certain right now. What is certain, however, is moving any of these 8 players would prove to be a monumental mistake.
This is a no-brainer and without Tavares, the Islanders are probably in last place and in position to draft what is hoped to be the next Tavares.
Tavares, just 21 years old, has become one of the most dynamic players in the NHL and would be equivalent to the Washington Capitals trading Alexander Ovechkin or the Vancouver Canucks moving both Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
If the Isles were to move Tavares, it would signal that they aren't only giving up on the season, they are giving up on the franchise as a whole.
If the New York Islanders had a better record, Evgeni Nabokov could be a MVP candidate.
Don't believe me?
Forty-five saves, 45 shots and a shutout in a shootout victory last Tuesday against the Flyers, a team that the Islanders have only beat four times in their last 30 meetings.
"Nabby"'s Islander future strongly depends on whether the team believes they can make up 10 points in the standings with only a couple months left in the season. If they don't think they can do it, Nabokov will be the top goaltender available for trade and should be a hot commodity.
However, one thing is for certain: If the Islanders feel they can make the playoffs, Nabokov will be their goaltender and will have to be a difference-maker down the stretch.
With no disrespect to Mark Streit, Travis Hamonic has probably developed into the Islanders' best all-around defenseman. Hamonic has a bilstering slapshot and if he continues to develop correctly, he could end up being one of the best defensemen in the NHL.
Besides the two players previously mentioned, he is probably the third most important player on the Islanders because of his all around game on the defensive end.
I admit it.
In the beginning of the season, I really wanted to see the Islanders move Josh Bailey.
Now, I believe he is a guy the Islanders should definitely be looking to keep. Everyone knew he had this ability. He started off red-hot in 2010 and everyone was sure that was going to be his breakout campaign. It turns out it was just another disappointment for Bailey.
On Thanksgiving, the Islanders cut his good friend, Blake Comeau, and ever since Bailey has just been a different player. The way he has played, especially on the penalty kill, has shown the potential of the former first round pick.
The Islanders are finally getting the production they were expecting when they drafted Bailey.
To move him now would be a monumental mistake.
Matt Moulson has been outstanding this season and the Islanders defintely cannot afford to trade him with the season he has had. He is on pace to demolish his career highs in goals, assists and points with 24 goals and 23 assists through 53 games.
Him and Tavares have really clicked since the first day they played together. The only move more foolish than trading Moulson would be trading Tavares.
The other half of that first line that has been completely dominant for the last two months.
Kyle Okposo has finally broken out, thanks to finally being given the chance to play alongside John Tavares. Since joining Tavares, Okposo has been on a near point-per-game pace with 15 points in 19 games and has fit very well as the compliment to Tavares.
Andrew MacDonald has been an unheralded hero for the New York Islanders this season. Defensemen like MacDonald are like offensive lineman in football. Players like MacDonald do the gritty work and guys like Tavares and Moulson get the glory because they are the ones that score the goals.
MacDonald currently ranks first on the team and ninth in the NHL in blocked shots. He is very valuable as he sees time during all situations including both the power play and the penalty kill.
He is not someone you would normally think would be untradeable, but he is extremely valuable to this team. MacDonald is someone you would like the Islanders see to lock up for a while rather than trade him.
So what if Nino Niederreiter hasn't lit up the scoreboard in his rookie campaign?
Do you really expect him to playing on a line with Jay Pandalfo and Tim Wallace?
Niederreiter has a boatload of potential and the Islanders really can't afford to move a player with that much upside.
Granted, he could still be moved.
Unless he is included in a package for a player of the caliber of someone like Eric Staal, Bobby Ryan or Rick Nash, Niederreiter should definitely be staying put.