The Islanders are in Washington tonight, where both teams have 31 points and could theoretically pull into a standings-points tie for eighth with a win.
Of course, the eighth-place Rangers (game in hand) also play tonight in Philadelphia. Winnipeg and Carolina also play each other. Last night there were two Eastern Conference games, and all four teams walked away with points. Three-point games will temper your playoff hopes right quick.
Anyway, here we are a week before the trade deadline and Arthur Staple suspects the Islanders will stand pat -- on the buying side, at least. He again references the possibility of signing the Isles college prospects Anders Lee and Scott Mayfield after their seasons conclude, as well as pursuit of contract extensions with their unrestricted free agents.
So buyers (no), sellers (maybe), or none of the above? There was some talk of them, like many teams, having scouts at some of the NHL games last night. But for a little context on the trade market, let's turn to yesterday's big Penguins trade.
Fear the Fin is a pretty sober, pretty analytical, pretty honest Sharks site. They've observed Douglas Murray's decline over the past few years. Their take on his trade to the Pens yesterday:
The question for Islanders fans is
whom will Murray leave his position to try to concuss what does this mean for the trade market for Islanders pending free agent defensemen Mark Streit and Lubomir Visnovsky.
The latter two are completely different defensemen, of course -- known for puck moving and not for big hits that have been Murray's trademark. Given what the Penguins just played for Murray and a similarly (but not as thoroughly) shadow-of-his-peak-self Brenden Morrow, it's possible: 1) The Penguins have their own market that's different than you and me; 2) There is a premium on "gritz" and other intangibles for even the league's top teams; or 3) the Islanders could make a killing on selling one or both if they find the right taker.
If Visnovsky doesn't carry a "flight risk" discount, you'd think he'd command a good piece with the way he's played this season.
However, before we get to that point, the Isles will presumably continue exploring contract extensions with both of them. Beginning tonight, they embark on a four-game road trip and a fifth one at home before the deadline.
- A little more on this four-game trip at the official site.
- A Q&A with Brendan Witt via Twitter direct messages.
- CBS has rumors around the Isles as ... quiet. More of the same, really.
- How are tonight's opponents trending? Check Japers' Rink for a player-by-player look.
- This Drew Doughty goal last night was amazing and impressive, but also an example of just horrendous defense by the Hawks. Wow.
- Speaking of awful defense ... the Oilers and Mark Fistric. Wow again.
- The Hurricanes took a gamble on Alexander Semin last summer and it paid off for them. Now it's paid off for Semin.
We'll have a fresh post on tonight's game later in the day. Leave your First Islanders Goal picks over here.