The combination of a nine-game winless streak and some AHL weekly and monthly honors appears to have done the trick: The New York Islanders made a roster move -- waiving Pierre-Marc Bouchard -- that is widely expected to make room for hot prospect Ryan Strome.
Strome was named AHL Rookie of the Month and Player of the Week (two weeks in a row on the latter) for his performance with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The Islanders offense, previously a strength while the goaltending and defense has hurt them, has also sputtered during the current losing streak, which looks likely to continue during this road trip with stops in Anaheim tonight and San Jose on Tuesday.
Bouchard, 29, was a free agent signing from the Minnesota Wild this past summer on a one-year, $2 million deal. The left-shooting winger was expected to compete for a role on the top line or else as a secondary scorer and power play contributor. He has four goals, five assists and 51 shots through 28 games this season.
By possession and shot metrics, Bouchard has not been dominant but he has also, well, not exactly been the problem.
But GM Garth Snow has apparently been working the phones on the lookout for help in goal and possibly on defense, to no avail. So Bouchard becomes the deck chair.
From a purely hockey perspective, Bouchard -- sidelined by concussions in recent seasons -- does avoid contact and doesn't embody the "hard on the puck" physicality the Islanders coaching staff seeks in its players. He's not alone in hat category, but then the other culprits are not signed to one-year deals.
When Bouchard clears or is claimed,
another team will have a secondary scorer the Isles will have room by tomorrow* to recall Strome and add some different (and right-shooting) creativity to the middle of the lineup. Alas, it will not change who stands in goal for the team with the lowest save percentage (.885) in the league.
*Of course, if someone gets hurt and lands on IR tonight, things for a theoretically unclaimed Bouchard could change quickly.