In what year do you believe the Islanders will be a serious playoff contender? -- @samfeygin
Why not this season? No, I'm serious. Why not this season? OK, I'm not sold on the Islanders being a serious playoff contender this season either (I assume you're not by your question, Sam). However, I do think the Islanders are heading in the right direction, finally, and I do expect them to be better than they were last season. I think it would be a disappointment if the Islanders are not at least in the playoff hunt come late March and early April this season. They may not be able to get in, but they should be in the hunt. They have the goaltending and the high-end scoring to be in the mix in the Eastern Conference.
The Islanders, though, still need to bide their time for Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson, Calvin de Haan and Griffin Reinhart to develop before I can say for sure they're going to be a serious threat. Coming behind them are Michael Dal Colle and Sebastian Collberg. You can't build through the draft and not have your top draft picks work out. It's wait-and-see still, but this is a big year for Strome, Nelson, de Haan and Reinhart, and really for the Islanders at large.
Which defenseman do you see the Bruins trading away? -- @ZigFracassi
Johnny Boychuk. It has to be him. He's entering the final year of his contract, so he's the most tradable, and the team that gets him will be getting a solid top-four, right-handed defenseman with a booming shot from the point. I wonder if Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli would trade with an Atlantic Division rival, because the Detroit Red Wings could use Boychuk.
If he does trade Boychuk, Chiarelli likely won't bring back a NHL player because the idea is to clear salary-cap room to sign restricted free agents Torey Krug and Reilly Smith. Boychuk's contract carries a salary-cap charge of approximately $3.3667 million, according to CapGeek.com. The Bruins might have enough space to sign Smith and Krug if they clear Boychuk's contract and put center Marc Savard on long-term injured reserve, which will happen.
Chiarelli could trade Adam McQuaid, but it wouldn't clear the cap space the Bruins need to sign Smith and Krug. McQuaid's contract carries a $1.5667 million cap charge.