The New York Islanders traded Devon Toews to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a pair of second-round selections in the 2021 and 2022 NHL Draft. The trade gives the Islanders some more leverage to help move some of their more hefty contracts and free up cap space.
The Islanders only have $8.9 million worth of free cap space to sign several of their big-name restricted free agents like Mat Barzal and Ran Pulock. Toews was a restricted free agent and elected for salary arbitration on Saturday.
“It certainly played a role,” Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello said when asked if the cap crunch was behind the trade. “Unfortunately a combination of a player going to arbitration and the unknown. And being able to acquire assets which we sort of used in previous trades. It’s all-encompassing.”
The deal gets the Islanders back a second-round pick in 2021, which they had originally traded to New Jersey in the Andy Greene trade back in February.
The decision to move Toews specifically was not something that had been set in stone, but rather one that came from demand, Lamoriello said. The Islanders general manager had spoken with Toews before the trade went through to explain what was happening.
Toews, 26, was selected 108th overall by the Islanders in 2014 and had 11 goals and 35 assists in 116 NHL games.
“It was certainly a very difficult conversation because he’s such a quality human being, as well as a good hockey player,” Lamoriello said.
Toews’ 28 points (six goals, 22 assists) during the regular season were second among all defenseman on the Islanders roster and his 10 points (two goals, eight assists) during the playoffs this year were tied for the team lead among defenseman. The defenseman made his NHL debut on December 23, 2018, against the Dallas Stars and scored his first goal in the NHL on January 3, 2019. against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Toews became a mainstay in the Islanders lineup following his first recall from AHL Bridgeport in December of 2018.
The onus now will be on Noah Dobson to fill the void that Toews’ departure leaves on the blue line. Lamoriello praised the play of Dobson and told reporters that he would not have made the trade if they didn’t feel confident that they had someone to step in.
Dobson played in 34 regular-season games with the Islanders this year as well as one appearance in the playoffs.