5 Reasons the New York Islanders Should Trade Al Montoya, Not Evgeni Nabokov
It seems that since the day the New York Islanders claimed Evgeni Nabokov off of waivers the plan was to trade him at the trade deadline to a contending team. There was some hope that he could get the Islanders to a playoff birth, such as he did two years ago for the San Jose Sharks.
After a slow start out of the gate though, that seems unlikely.
As evidenced by Blake Comeau, you cannot force teams to trade for a player and the same will be said about Evgeni Nabokov. After Nabokov's slow start though, it may actually make more sense to trade Al Montoya.
Montoya has been great since the day he slipped on an Islander sweater, but one can only wonder if he is the long-term solution in the crease for the Islanders.
Evgeni Nabokov Has Little Value
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Evgeni Nabokov is 36 years old.
He has already missed time because of injury twice.
In games he has played this season, he is 1-5 and has given up about three goals per game.
The Islanders hoped that they could be in a similar situation as last season with Dwayne Roloson, an aging goaltender they can move at the trade deadline to a contending team that needs a goaltender, but this year that doesn't seem the case.
Unless Nabokov can pull a complete 180 on his season, he will have little value heading into the trade trade deadline and will be sporting an Islander sweater the rest of the season.
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Al Montoya is getting paid $601,000, and after this season will be an unrestricted free agent.
After this season, he can easily walk and the Islanders can be left scratching their heads.
Since his contract is so low, teams with salary cap issues that could use an upgrade at goaltender can target Montoya and not have to take a cap hit.
Even teams that cannot afford that, the Islanders would have no problem paying that contract until it expires.
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The Isles got a glimpse of their future last season when they were forced to bring up Kevin Poulin because of injuries to their other goaltenders.
Poulin went 4-2-1 with a 2.44 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage in his time on the island last year before his season was ended by a knee injury last February.
With a trade of Montoya, it wouldn't mean the the Islanders would no longer have a franchise goaltender—it would just mean that it will be Poulin and not Montoya.
Along with Poulin, the Islanders also have Mikko Koskinen and Anders Nielsen as possible future goaltenders.
Teams Will Have Opportunity to Acquire a Franchise Goaltender
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Once upon a time, Al Montoya was one of the New York Rangers most highly touted prospects and just as highly regarded as their current goaltender, Hendrik Lundqvist.
This is not the beginning of a fairy tale. This is true.
After struggling early in his career, that potential has shown ever since the Islanders traded for Montoya last February.
Montoya is 12-8-6 and a 2.17 goals-against average in 25 starts since joining the Islanders.
Montoya is still only 26, and If he is available, teams will be able to trade for a goaltender that not only can help them compete for a championship for the rest of this season but can help them compete for a championship for the next decade.
The Islanders Can Get a Lot More Back for Montoya
As evidenced by the Dwayne Roloson trade last season, the market isn't too high for goaltenders over the age of 35.
The Islanders acquired marginal-prospect defenseman Ty Wishart from the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Isles will likely only find a similar offer in the best-case scenario for Nabokov.
On the flip side, for Montoya it is quite possible they will be able to acquire a skater or draft pick that is/can be used for a player that will be a contributor for the next decade.
Montoya's trade value is at peak value right now, and the Islanders have an opportunity to acquire something good for the young goaltender.
He is just an injury away from all that being erased, so the time is now for the Islanders to pull the trigger on a Montoya trade that can bring in a franchise player into the Nassau Coliseum.