I'd heard a few headlines here and there about former Islanders doing things that got them traded in the first place -- Robert Nilsson not scoring, Marc-Andre Bergeron returning to the margins, etc. -- and then stumbled upon the news that Ryan O'Marra has indeed played his first NHL game (six minutes, minus-1).
To hear some Oilers fans tell it, O'Marra's stunning promotion came not by merit but by "why the hell not?" injury necessity. And why necessity? Aside from the Oilers' flu issues making the Islanders look spry and healthy, the handsome Mr. Nilsson is out with a concussion. Desperate times, man.
How was Nilsson doing before being concussed, by the way? This:
|2009 - Robert Nilsson||12||1||3||4||-12||0||1||6||12:45
And how is the guy we rented for these characters -- oh, those heady 2007 days -- doing? Not too shabby:
|2009 - Ryan Smyth||19||9||13||22||8||8||5||20:44||4:03
Smyth's 22 points are good for second on the Kings -- behind league leader Anze Kopitar's absurd 30 -- and good for a tie for 5th-most in the league. Once thought to be headed to the "power forward accelerated decline," Smyth has clearly made use of his Keep It Simple Stupid style and quality teammates to be one of the summer's better acquisitions.
A look at the Oiler-Islander time warp shuttle would not be complete without a look in on Mike Comrie, part of their flu brigade ...
|2009 - Mike Comrie||14||5||3||8||-3||10||2||0||14:12||3:14
... nor on Marc-Andre Bergeron, whose second game with the Canadiens featured his familiar booming shot raining down on the Islanders during Habs powerplays (he got a goal and an assist, naturally). They'd found their interim PP QB, hadn't they?
Stop me if you've heard this before, but: No.
|2009 - Marc-Andre Bergeron||11||2||1||3||-5||4||2||1
It was always going to be a stretch for a coach like Jacques Martin to take a liking to a player like Bergeron. Jacques Lemaire did his best with the Wild, but ultimately even Lemaire Love didn't take.
After a promising start that is Bergeron's trademark, his minutes in Montreal dropped for a couple of games (10:37 one night, 12:54 another). They've since inched back up, so it's folly to write him off after such a small sample. Plus, the Habs haven't drawn many powerplays during an offense-challenged, three-game losing streak.
But from the outside looking in, it appears Bergeron is just being Bergeron. That sample-caveat in mind, in relative +/-, he's been their worst 5-on-5 defenseman not in the AHL. But, well, shots happen when he's on the ice, more toward the other net than his own. The question is what position is he in after those shots happen, and why does the other team score?
The Habs plucked Jay Leach off waivers, and Ryan O'Byrne is nearing a return to health. For Bergeron, the future is likely: "same as it ever was."
And of course, a mention of Bergeron necessitates a look at...yeah:
|2009 - Denis Grebeshkov||19||3||7||10||-7||16||1||0||0||0||22||13.6|
Denis Grebeshkov, in a critical year (he's an RFA next summer, making $3.15 million right now). The jury is still out on whether he will build off last season, but he doesn't look too shabby on a struggling undermanned team at the moment.
* * *
Any other ex-Islanders (recent or distant) you're keeping an eye on? They do always seem to be scattered near and far (Yashin: 7-20-27 in 23 games for St. Petersburg), so it's impossible to know when to start and where to end. (And it's okay; you can bring up ex-Isles with no ties to Edmonton.)