The trade deadline has come and gone, and judging by his comments, Garth Snow was unable to make the deals he wanted to make. If he wanted to trade significant veteran assets, perhaps he was thwarted by Mr.Wang, who most certainly would not want to throw in the towel when the team is in the thick of the playoff race, for PR purposes, of course. Either way, the lack of movement was a big mistake. The Isles are going nowhere fast. A team with the character of Oleg Kvasha CAN NOT succeed in the playoffs. They would have been much better off getting as many assets as possible in exchange for Miroslav Satan (if he was willing to waive his no trade clause), Josef Vasicek, and Ruslan Fedotenko (unless an extension is imminent).
To be fair, the deals that were made were solid moves. It’s a great sign to see Chris Simon go, considering his close relationship to Nolan. Nolan has often been criticized for playing favorites, and rightly so. How else do you justify Andy Hilbert on the top line for half the season, and Simon coming right in after a suspension to break up what was the most energetic line (Tambellini-Nielsen-Comeau) the Isles had all season? But hey, that’s besides the point. Good move getting Simon out of Nassau—he had clearly wore out his welcome with the Islanders faithful, and quite frankly, he brought absolutely nothing to the table. Jeff Tambellini will reclaim the roster spot and will not disappoint.
Ridding of M.A. Bergeron was another instance of addition by subtraction. Bergeron’s atrocious defensive play, combined with the disrespect he showed toward Gerard Gallant earlier this season, earned him a one-way ticket to Anaheim, where he will undoubtedly have a spot on the powerplay, if not a seat in the press box most nights. Keep an eye on him—if he gets a regular shot, he could be a solid pick-up for the stretch drive.
As for the acquisition of Rob Davison from San Jose, Snow succeeded in bringing in a solid third-pair defenseman with all-around skills. Davison was a healthy scratch most nights with the Sharks and will undoubtedly be thrilled to be playing a regular shift with the Isles. The 6’3" defenseman is known for sticking up for his teammates—a trait the Isles desperately needed.
Besides the dealing, Garth Snow also busied himself with signing Trent Hunter to a five-year deal. Hunter may be a loyal Islander, a decent checker, etc. But he is not worthy of a five-year contract, considering his declining play. Since joining the Isles for the infamous Toronto series in 2002, Hunter’s play has gotten progressively worse. His skating ability rivals that of Eric Godard, and he now boasts a shooting percentage of around 4%. The scary part is that Hunter should be in the prime of his career, and he is on pace for an 11-goal season. Like all long-term contracts, the question is how is this guy going to perform at the tail end of the deal? At this rate, Trent Hunter is destined to become the next Mark Lawrence.
Mike Comrie was also inked to a one-year contract extension for $4 million. $4 million you ask? What warranted the 25% increase? Who knows? Regardless, it’s a good signing in that Comrie has expressed his desire to remain with the Isles, though I am skeptical about his intentions. What if Hillary Duff decides hockey players aren’t her thing anymore? And what if Comrie actually puts up first line numbers? Either way, it’s good-bye, Mike Comrie. In all seriousness, if Snow is able to add a top line center (Jokinen?), and Comrie can drop to the second line, then this is a good move. Otherwise, don’t expect much more from Comrie than what we saw this year.
Miroslav Satan (14-21=35,-5) was going strong with three goals and two assists in a string of five games, but has since gone pointless with a –4 rating in his last two.
Trent Hunter (8-26=34,-9) has a goal and seven assists in his last ten games. The sad part is that he has just two goals since Christmas. The saddest part is that he’s signed for five more years.
Ruslan Fedotenko (15-16=31,-6) has seven goals and an assist in his last ten games, including a goal in each of his last two.
Josef Vasicek (13-16=29,+3) has two goals and seven assists in his last eight games.
Richard Park (9-14=23,-4) has fallen back to Earth and off the first line, and has one assist in his last nine games to show for it.
Sean Bergenheim (7-10=17,+3) has three goals and three assists in his last nine games, but he still finds himself stuck playing 4th line minutes. When one of the best players in the league (Teemu Selanne) says he should be playing more, maybe Ted Nolan should listen.
Rick DiPietro (25-23,3 SO,2.67 GAA,.907 S%) has played well enough to give the Isles a chance to win every night, with the exception of his last outing vs. Pittsburgh, when he allowed four goals on 21 shots.
Mike Comrie (18-27=45,-20) has gone pointless in four after a solid run of six games during which he contributed four goals and four assists. Comrie has a team-worst –20 rating on the season.
Bill Guerin (19-16=35,-13) has gone without a goal in eight games, adding just four assists in that time.
Bryan Berard (5-8=13,-13) has gone pointless in six games following a three point effort in Toronto. But, more importantly, Berard is now the undisputed powerplay quarterback after the trade of M.A. Bergeron. Expect a bump in BB’s production.
Scratches: Johnson (if Witt returns)
On the mend
*D Andy Sutton (torn hamstring) is out until at least late March.
*D Brendan Witt (sprained knee) is day-to-day.
*F Mike Sillinger (hip) opted for surgery and will miss the remainder of the season.
*D Chris Campoli (shoulder) is out for the season.
*F Shawn Bates (hip) is out indefinitely.
*F Jon Sim (knee) is out for the season.
Thu. 2/28 @ Atlanta
Sat. 3/1 vs. Philadelphia
Sun. 3/2 vs. Florida
Tue. 3/4 @ Rangers
Thu. 3/6 vs. Rangers
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