Islanders Gameday: Between NHL trades, some games

Remember when pundits (and Brian Burke) complained that the salary cap kept teams from making trades like the good ol' days? I never quite bought that. I mean, I believe many GMs made fewer trades because they had difficulty understanding the cap (we'll just call that "Sather, Rinse, Repeat"...or maybe "pulling a Tallon"). But I don't believe the cap should have kept teams from making trades.

Because we're still just dealing in assets here, one of them being the ever malleable cap space. It's a little more complicated now -- in addition to defining a player's talent (and "character," and whether he walks old ladies across the street), you now have to know his contract status, how long you can reasonably hold his rights, whether he's arbitration eligible or has a Jerry-come-lately for an agent, whether players like him are being overpaid already, etc. But you can still do it. The last weekend, I think, has finally proven that.

La-upleft_medium                 Nyi-y_medium
Kings (32-22-4, 6th/W) @ Islanders (21-30-7, 14th/E)
Nassau [
gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Mem. Coliseum
7 p.m. EST | MSG+ |
audio - WRHU 88.7
Invaders from a strange coast: Jewels from the Crown | Battle of Cali

I don't know what's in the collective GM water to make this pre-deadline trade frenzy happen now -- I half-wondered whether Garth Snow's early deals of Dwayne Roloson and James Wisniewski got GMs to realize they don't have to wait until the last week of February -- but I'll take it.

After the jump, links to the league's big trades of the past few days, plus -- oh yeah, a game tonight? -- bits on the Isles-Kings matchup this evening.

Trades

Blues send D-man Erik Johnson, Frans-lite Jay McClement, conditional 1st (non-top 10) to Colorado for power forward Chris Stewart and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. [STL paper | STL Game Time | Mile High Hockey | Denver Post]

That one's the blockbuster in my opinion, a real gamble from both sides (more so by the Blues, who just gave up on a potential cornerstone at age 22, 23 next month), and the first example of a team giving up on a #1 overall selection in quite some time. The last #1 overall pick to be dumped was Ilya Kovalchuk, who was drafted all the way back in 2001. The last #1 to be dumped while not being a pending UFA was Joe Thonton, who was drafted in 1997 and dumped in the season after the lockout. Patrik Stefan had a similar length of tenure in Atlanta, but come on...it's Patrik Stefan.

 

Bruins ship prospect Joe Colbourne and their own 2011 first-round pick to Toronto for UFA Tomas Kaberle; then ship spare D-man Mark Stuart and disappointing winger Blake Wheeler to Atlanta for underrated Rich Peverley and Slovakian shell of a once-touted D Boris Valabik. [Stanley Cup of Chowder | Birdwatchers Anonymous | LHH FanShot | PPP]

I like both deals for the Bruins, and I'm not quite sure why the Maple Leafs were so intent on chasing Kaberle out the door when he clearly wanted to stay. But maybe they can woo him back. And it is a risk for the B's in that they're trying to go for it all with a team that may not, well, have it all. Peverley is one of those late-bloomers who hasn't quite followed up on his breakout season last year. But in terms of the Bruins needing center help after Marc Savard's concussions, it's a nice move to me (but then I've never thought much of Wheeler).

Naturally, this week I was happy Kaberle wasn't a Bruin yet to face the Isles...so of course Wheeler scores his last goal as a Bruin at the Coliseum.

 

Blues deal Eric Brewer to Tampa Bay for prospect Brock Beukeboom and a 3rd. [Raw Charge]

Brewer, a former Islander, was both captain and an unrestricted free agent. The Blues obviously think they are dealing from a position of strength on the blueline by unloading both Eric(k)s. As a close observer and fan of that team, I'm tickled by how much they touted both Johnson and Brewer over the years only to give up on both.

(They frequently accuse Blues fans of hating Brewer because he's not Pronger, when in fact Blues fans got on Brewer because he wasn't Brewer -- he played through injury for much of the past few seasons and it showed. Meanwhile, that franchise is the one who seemed to desperately try to justify their return for Pronger by naming Brewer captain and giving him a large contract that is only now expiring. /rant)

All of that said, a healthy Brewer has been quite good this year, and he may help the Lightning out a lot. I remember Beukeboom being drafted but haven't paid much attention to him because he wears Son Of Ranger fragrance and that makes me feel all yucky. I know that he's had concussions already, so...

 

Avalanche deal UFA goalie and savior-turned-scapegoat Craig Anderson to Ottawa for RFA goalie Brian Elliott. [nhl.com | Silver Seven | MHH ]

I don't believe Anderson is as sustainably incredible as he was last year, but I believe he is a good goalie. I don't view Elliott the same way. I suspect the Avs will continue to have goalie issues. Something is up with Anderson this year, and I guess the Sens will get a closer look at what that is. But if they can't re-sign him, he'd be on my target list for the Isles this summer.

 

Sens send Jarkko Ruutu to Anaheim for a bag of pucks (6th).

Ruutu is an absolute stooge. He'll fit in well next to Maxim Lapierre and Corey Perry (who at least, unlike the former two, is actually a very good NHL hockey player). By adding Ruutu and Lapiere, the Ducks' hatability quotient just went up to 11. So hide your Cookes, hide your Talbots, and someone alert Mario Lemieux.

There have been other, mostly smaller trades before the end of this week. Feel free to discuss the merits of those, too. My head is still spinning from what is normally the kind of activity reserved for the final 24 hours before the deadline.

 

Tonight's Game

The Islanders talked about how awful their game versus the Bruins was, and Jack Capuano gave reporters a few theories:

"We have to move our feet," Capuano said. "We just stood around and watched all night. We didn’t move the puck quick enough, we didn’t get the puck off our stick, our forecheck was nonexistent. System wise we weren’t doing what we wanted to do. We weren’t playing within our system. There was just a period, looking back at it, that we just weren’t into it mentally and we weren’t focused or prepared to start the game."

That is absolutely the case. And I'm not going to get into the Goalie Scapegoat of the Week club here, but because the Islanders are carrying two AHL goaltenders their margin for going on walkabout during games is all the more thinner. Whatever Nathan Lawson or Al Montoya's potential for a big game, they're simply less likely to bail the team out of a bad start than Dwayne Roloson or Kevin Poulin were during their stints this season.

As for the Kings, they're a deep team that has had some rough struggles in the hyper-competitive West this year. I basically fear them though. They haven't lost in regulation in 10 games (7-0-3). Given the stakes, they should come out all business-like and the Isles will have to get peak, focused performances from everyone -- especially in goal -- to stand a chance. These two teams' last meeting was in Scott Gordon's last game.

In Goal: The Isles' morning skate was optional, but Capuano said Montoya gets the start.

 

Not Only But Also

FIGs

Okay, I goofed last time, but how we want to do the First Islanders Goal (FIG) picks is: In the first(ish) comment, someone puts "FIG PICKS GO HERE." Then everyone uses replies to that thread to leave their picks. But keep picks of the same player together: If you want Nielsen and someone's already selected Nielsen, you reply to him. And you do it with: Nielsen (assist 1, assist 2), TIME. We'll see how it goes...

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