No meat on the Islanders' burner

When former Canadiens and Blues exec Ron Caron was working the lines to make a trade -- and boy, did he like trades -- he'd tell reporters, "There is meat on the burner."

Islanders GM Garth Snow is the anti-Caron: He wouldn't tip his hand to save a starving kitten, and when he does serve up a colorful quote, it never involves potential roster moves.

But Snow waived Jon Sim last week (Sim cleared, and scored the tying goal Tuesday), and Chris Botta has ever so vaguely hinted that meat is on the burner -- or at least a veteran is not long for this place. So the trade landscape bears a look since, as David at Mile High Hockey wrote:

On Friday, the NHL freezes rosters until December 27th so that a bunch of millionaires don't have their holidays ruined by getting traded to Anaheim or something.

If Snow has been "burning up the lines," it's likely to lay the groundwork for some veteran-dumping later in the season. I mean, true, the Islanders will need a roster move if they're ever healthy again, and I'm sure Snow would love to move dead weight now yesterday, but no one wants our problems. Plus, Snow isn't going to toss away anyone who's contributing right now (like live Weight) -- not this soon. And if anyone's after any Islanders vets, they likely won't want the cap hit until after Christmas.

But what of the story of the hour past six freaking months? Mats Sundin and whomever his new team -- reportedly Vancouver or New York, but whatever -- clears off their roster to fit his puzzled will in?

If a team needs to clear salary, Long Island is the last place to look. In rebuild mode, the Islanders would only take a young asset with some potential and, naturally, not a lot of salary. If the Canucks wanted to just shave a few pennies, perhaps the Isles would take Frans Nielsen's countryman, Jannik Hansen (salary: $500k). But it's difficult to see a match for these two teams.

Taylor Pyatt at $1.5M? Ha, no thanks, been there (8th overall in '99, unfortunately) and got out of that stock. Plus, his only big year was Sedin-aided and he's a UFA this summer.

Frequent traveler Steve Bernier has an inflated $2.5M salary -- no way the Isles take that, and if the Canucks' problem is offense, it's unlikely they want to dump any bit of it, no matter how minimal and overpaid.

The other (more likely?) Sundin destination, the Rangers, almost certainly have to clear some space for waffling Mats. But they're unlikely to share anything of value with their rivals, even if the prize is Sundin. Some Islanders fans say jump if the Rangers happen to waive the oft-scratched Petr Prucha ($1.6M, RFA). If they dumped Nigel Dawes' paltry, cost-controlled $588k, I'd jump. But again, not bloodly likely, and not with us.

Frankly, it will be fascinating to see what the Rangers do to squeeze in Mats Hamlet. You'd think if Sundin really wanted to play, he'd take a minimal salary so as not to create such havoc on his new team. But apparently not. As it is, the Rangers have a bushel of those ridiculous Rangerific long-term, high-salary deals, none of which are headed anywhere near here.

And what of here? Well, if someone really wanted Brendan Witt -- who either isn't fitting the system (possibly) or isn't healthy (likely) -- I could see Snow moving him despite the extension he signed over the summer. But I don't know what team sees Witt as the missing piece at $3M per through 2010-11, certainly not in his recent form.

Is someone out there waiting for Mike Comrie to get healthy and for more salary days to lapse on the UFA's $4M salary this season? That, I could see. But again, any GM banking on Comrie should a) make sure he demonstrates health first, and b) use that demonstration time to knock down the owed money left on his 08-09 income.

And would someone want a crack at sub-$1M Sean Bergenheim? Would Snow be ready to give up on him?

In the end, don't expect any moves by the roster freeze Friday. But after the holidays, now that's when we can think about at least taking the meat out of the freezer.

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