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New York Rangers Defenseman Raphael Diaz.
The Islanders can do a whole lot worse than New York Rangers defenseman Raphael Diaz. He shoots right (check), is just 28 (check), knows the area (check) and is great in the defensive zone (wait—no check).
Okay, maybe I’m being a bit harsh. After all, Boyle has his defensive shortcomings too. So long as Diaz is great on the power play, it might not matter that he’s a 5’11”, physically unassertive pushover in his own zone.
Looking at his stats, I see he does have four power-play assists. Hold on—four power-play assists, total? Oh, no, phew, I mean 16 power-play assists total...in his career…over three seasons…without any goals. The four helpers were just last year.
My bad. Well, my mistake actually. Diaz is the one who’s bad. But I mean that in the nicest way possible, of course, in the relative sense—you know, when compared to other NHL defensemen.
The simple truth is that Diaz has potential to be a great offensive defenseman. No joke. However, there are red flags aplenty as to why the Islanders should steer clear from him.
For starters, he only dressed in four of the Rangers’ 25 playoff games (despite being healthy enough to play when John Moore got suspended). Secondly, he only became a Ranger after getting traded twice last season. The first time was for Dale Weise by the Habs to the Vancouver Canucks. The second time, Vancouver got considerably less from the Rangers (a fifth-round selection).
The final red flag? While he does in fact shoot right, the Habs currently find themselves in a similar predicament relative to the Islanders. They have two right-handed defensemen on the roster currently in P.K. Subban and Mike Weaver. However, they only acquired Weaver a month after trading Diaz, meaning for a time they preferred to make do with just a single right-handed defenseman rather than keep him around.
Sure, they got a fourth-liner in Weise in return, but look at it this way: They only got a fourth liner.
If the Islanders do decide to go after Diaz, it wouldn’t be the worst move. However, they’d be signing him purely on his potential, and he’s already 28 and that potential has yet to show up consistently after three seasons. While the Islanders can indeed do worse, they can also do a whole lot better.