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Isles give Sabres 2015 first-rounder; reach deal with Halak

Erie Otters v Guelph Storm

GUELPH, ON - APRIL 18: Connor McDavid #97 of the Erie Otters fires a shot against the Guelph Storm in Game Two of the OHL Western Conference Final at the Sleeman Centre on April 18, 2014 in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. The Storm defeated the Otters 7-2 to take a 2-0 series lead. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Claus Andersen

As expected, the New York Islanders are keeping their first-round pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, which means they’re giving their first-round pick in the 2015 draft -- the one that will feature potential superstars Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel -- to the Buffalo Sabres.

All of this stems from the Thomas Vanek trade, between the Sabres and Islanders, in October of 2013.

The decision to retain the 2014 selection, even though it’s the fifth overall pick, is a big gamble for the Islanders, who will need to make the playoffs to avoid transferring a 2015 lottery pick to Buffalo.

And making the playoffs will be easier said than done for an Isles team that fell well short of the mark in 2013-14. The injury to John Tavares hurt, yes, but that wasn’t the only reason they struggled. Once again, goaltending was a weakness, a factor that necessitated the acquisition of Jaroslav Halak’s exclusive negotiating rights earlier this month.

So, not surprisingly, we also learn today that the Isles have reached a deal with Halak, as first reported by TSN’s Bob McKenzie. Apparently, it’s a four-year contract for the 29-year-old, with a cap hit of $4.5 million.