I learned three things from watching the Islanders fall to Edmonton 3-2 last night.
First, Kyle Okposo is on his way. He continues to hustle and use his size to knock guys off the puck. Last night following one interception, he turned it into a top-shelf sniper's goal before a back-spasming Shawn Horcoff could even curse his giveaway.
The second thing I learned is that while Mike Comrie may have expected boos in Edmonton, he sure didn't do much to show them up. With top center Doug Weight hurt and the Oilers providing little resistance, Comrie was almost a no-show (Five giveaways. Two shots. Four-for-15 on faceoffs.).
You Better Pay a High Price for Doug Weight
The third thing I learned is that Doug Weight has a job in broadcasting if he ever wants it. We knew he had the gift of gab, but man can he keep the conversation going with relevant commentary. Out with a foot injury, Weight sat in the booth for pretty much the second half of the game. With old-school classic Jiggs McDonald deftly directing traffic and Billy Jaffe providing the counterpoints, this impromptu three-man booth was a model for broadcasters in any sport. You can make a three-man booth work, if you have a clue.
They perhaps got a little carried away with big-picture commentary at the expense of play-by-play, but this is the 30th-place Islanders we're talking about (thus, big picture is fairly important), so McDonald/Jaffe wisely seized the rare opportunity to let an articulate athlete share some worthwhile perspective. If you missed the broadcast, notes on some of Weight's comments about the game, the team and his injury are in the game thread, with Weight's entrance to the booth beginning here.
Before I get to why the Isles should consider re-signing Weight, an obligatory bit about the game: Except for their fourth line, the Oilers didn't really show up. Joey MacDonald had a rare night where he could make excellent saves without being bombarded. The young, Weight-less Isles controlled the first period and took the game to the Oilers in stretches.
So it was disappointing to see them disappear, as Weight essentially called it, after the unfortunate bounces that tied the game. But lesson learned. The refs were ridiculous in the late power plays they gave the Oilers -- and in the non-calls later on -- but better these youngsters learn now to fight through that, even if Scott Gordon's frustration with the calls is understandable (and perhaps even overdue):
"Tim Jackman goes in, which should obviously be a power play for us, doesn't get the call. [Note - in fact he gets the penalty!] They go opposite end and Joey gets run, no call. A goal gets kicked in, they rule it didn't get kicked in."
Keep Weight? Maybe, man, maybe...
I've sort of avoided going too far into this because it's a topic that will likely come up repeatedly and evolve constantly over the next two months. But I keep thinking Weight would be more valuable as a mentor through next season than as a chip for some playoff team's low-first-round pick.
Granted, I'm developing somewhat irrational feelings about Weight -- feelings I didn't think I'd have when he signed this summer. In a sense, I'm guilty of growing attached to a player, when Garth Snow needs to be coldly business-like come trade deadline time.
But in another sense, I *am* thinking business-like. In addition to offense, Weight appears to be providing real value in mentorship -- as he did in St. Louis before they dealt him against his wishes and promptly plummeted in the standings. Keeping him as leader now could pay off dividends when these youngsters grow into what we hope they can be. Put it this way: If the Islanders can draft Tavares, who do you want showing him how to be an NHLer -- Doug Weight or Mike Comrie?
So at this point, if I'm Snow and Weight wants to re-sign (he does), I think long and hard. I get what I can for Comrie. And if I don't get at least a top-half first-rounder+ for Weight, then no way. If rumor-of-the-month Columbus comes offering, that's tempting, as they're just as likely to fall into the bottom ten as they are to make the playoffs. [But know this: Deal Weight and he's not coming back in the summer. He's been there, done that, and still got shafted.]
But here's the thing: I don't think Columbus can afford to give up their first-rounder. They may be in a Waddell situation, where they feel a business-like imperative to make the playoffs the way Atlanta did when it rented Keith Tkachuck. But can they really afford to deal a potentially huge building piece away just to rent Doug Weight for an outside chance at the playoffs -- and a decent chance of being dealt a Thrasher-like swift exit?
It doesn't make long-term sense. Even with the Blue Jackets decline in attendance, they don't have the same multi-sport challenge Atlanta has. And Blue Jackets fans will be there once the team does finally emerge -- and fans see the new regime went about it the right way. Unless fervor gets the best of them, I don't see them offering what Garth Snow should demand.
Obviously, my impressions on this topic are likely to shift an annoying number of times over the next 50-some days. But right now, I'm having a hard time imagining the right team being crazy enough to come up with the right offer that looks better than having this popular mentor around for at least one more year.
Nothing can be done until the last offer' on the table, but: What do you think?