As we quickly approach the NHL Trade Deadline, the New York Islanders have been linked to Columbus Blue Jackets forward and captain Nick Foligno.
With Anders Lee out for the season with a torn ACL, Foligno could help fill his role on and off the ice. He’s both a born leader and a grinder, and Columbus head coach John Tortorella has entrusted Foligno to center their top power-play unit. While the role he’d take on with the Islanders would be a little different, Foligno could prove to be an asset that turn the tide on the man-advantage a wing spot.
Right now, the Columbus Blue Jackets are three points out of a playoff spot with 18 games remaining. How they play over the next two weeks will determine if they are buyers or sellers at the deadline.
If it comes down to it, the Islanders do have some cap room right now to make a deal for Foligno. With Lee on LTIR, they can utilize his $7 million cap hit, so Foligno’s $5.5 million cap hit is doable.
A few picks could be all it takes to acquire the gritty veteran. He has six goals and nine assists in 37 games, with him nor his linemates doing much this season. He’s regressed offensively, but so has his role in Columbus.
With the right players, he could provide much more than what the stats show.
Columbus Blue Jackets Acquire:
- 2nd rd pick (2022)
- Leo Komarov ($3 M AAV)
- Prospect Blade Jenkins
New York Islanders Acquire:
- Nick Foligno (CBJ) retains $2.2 M ($5.5 M AAV)
There’s a method to the madness here.
It would make sense to include Leo Komarov in this trade since moving his $3 million AAV over the next two years would free up more space for the Islanders. While Komarov is no offensive player, he is physical, forechecks hard and is a strong penalty killer. The Blue Jackets have the seventh-worst penalty kill in the NHL, at 75.9-percent, and could use Komarov’s skillset.
Both players would have to submit a no trade list, so that could take some convincing right off the bat for Foligno or Komarov.
However, the move for either player makes sense in the grand scheme of things. Nick Foligno would be joining an Islanders team that has a chance to make a deep run in the playoffs. And for Komarov, he would get to play every game and see minutes on the penalty kill.
The final piece to the puzzle is the Blue Jackets retaining $2.2 million of Foligno’s contract or 40 percent. The Islanders would take in $3.2 million. To sweeten the deal, add a “b” level prospect like Blade Jenkins.
If Columbus retains some salary then the Islanders would still have money to spend. If this were to happen, Islanders would have around $6.7 million available to obtain. They could even go out and get someone else, like a Kyle Palmieri.
The Blue Jackets in this scenario are getting a pick, a veteran player’s skillset, and a 20-year old prospect currently in his first AHL season.
Nick Foligno has helped turn a struggling franchise into a competitive force over in Columbus the last few seasons. The mentality that he and his team bring is one of fierce determination and grit, as seen over the previous two seasons.
The Islanders could use a player with that kind of mentality, as well as someone who is familiar with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Islanders fell victim to Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference Finals last year after six games.
Most of all, as NHL Network’s E.J, Hradek said, Foligno is “a Lou Lamoriello type player”.
Even though Foligno has played in the bottom six this season, he has still averaged 17:53 of ice time. Foligno is not the player he once was but still has excellent awareness in the offensive zone and can use his body to create lanes.
Foligno has shown to be versatile under Coach Tortorella and will be under Barry Trotz.
Regardless of his positioning on the rink, he is a great passer, and if Mathew Barzal finds separation, we may see more goals from this top line. Foligno is also a board battler and has a physical presence, just like Lee.
His acquisition would allow the Islanders to solidify their third line since Anthony Beauvillier has seemed to be a natural fit alongside Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Oliver Wahlstrom.
Whether a deal like this could come to fruition is unknown, but this would be the deal that would most likely get the job done and be fair for everyone.
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