The return doesn't matter in the eyes of many Islanders fans, because Rolston and Mottau are regular scapegoats -- often fairly -- when things go wrong.
Mottau has simply not been a good defenseman in his two seasons with the Islanders, though he's faced serious injury in both of them. Rolston has been ineffective and at best the placeholding stopgap cap mule many thought him to be when the Islanders swapped Trent Hunter's remaining two years for Rolston's remaining one. Each were attempts at emergency stopgaps (Mottau after Mark Streit got hurt, Rolston after no one else signed) that did not meet even reduced expectations.
Officially, as reported first (I think, but who can keep track?) by Newsday's Arthur Staple, the Islanders get back minor league forward Yannick Riendeau and defenseman Marc Cantin, who has been in the ECHL. The important thing for the Isles is finding a home for those two vets for the rest of the year -- indeed Mottau returns to his native region -- while opening up space for younger players who frankly ought to be better NHLers right now anyway.
Details on each player below:
Rolston has four goals, five assists, nine points in 49 games, and was not the effective powerplay point man the Isles hoped he might be. He was never able to find chemistry with solid checking winger Matt Martin and enigmatic center Josh Bailey -- nor with Bailey and fellow enigma Blake Comeau before that, so his role outside of hinted at veteran leadership and other things never met expectations.
Among Islanders regulars he faced mid-level competition with oft-weak teammates and yielded mid-level Corsi Rel (strong caveat: He had high offensive zone starts, and he shot the puck on sight, even logging "shots" on goal from center ice during line change dump-ins). Again, he probably wasn't quite as bad as a lot of fans say, but he wasn't effective either. And to the eye his "chemistry" never clicked with his linemates. Someone on that line needed to elevate the others, and none were capable. Rolston's absence opens up space for other forwards to either put up or expose the Islanders' holes.
Unlike Rolston, with Mottau you can't even find an underlying/advanced stat case to say he was at least passable for the average work. Mottau and often Mark Eaton faced the weakest competition at even strength yet still came out behind. During Mottau's long injury absence, Eaton soldiered on with a variety of partners (and his underlying numbers stayed poor), but before Mottau's injury and after the first quarter he had the worst figures not only on the team -- but in the whole league. (It was roughly 20 games, so take that stretch for what it's worth.)
Granted, parsing over the weaknesses of expiring bottom-six and bottom-pair players is probably not worth too much debate: In the end, Rolston and Mottau were not part of the future and were ineffective parts of the present. For depth, the Islanders will need to do better next season -- and that means adding some quality players that force prospects to beat them out of a job.
Too often this season, these two players were not pushed to earn their place.
Yannic Riendeau is a guy with a cool French name. He's 5'10" with some offensive skill. He can put up a point per game at the ECHL but far from that at the AHL. He is 23 and has spent more time in the Bruins organization in the ECHL than in the AHL. According to CapGeek, his three-year ELC with a low $50,000 AHL salary expires this summer.
Marc Cantin is a guy...who's a little more interesting. Listed at 6'1", 200 lbs., he's a 21-year-old defenseman who won Memorial Cups with Taylor Hall's Windsor club and was Casey Cizikas' teammate with Mississauga last year. According to CapGeek, he's on a standard two-way ELC that runs through 2013-14, which he earned after coming to Bruins development camp on a tryout.
With the Islanders engaging the youth for the remainder of the season, these guys at minimum help fill in the two open slots and will be there to help Bridgeport's playoff push.