On the NHL's trade deadline the New York Islanders were expected to be quiet, but a couple of moves they did make should improve the team for their playoff run: A swap of backup goalies brings an upgrade in Michal Neuvirth, acquired from the Buffalo Sabres for Chad Johnson and a 2016 third-round pick. The Islanders also acquired former Penguin Tyler Kennedy from the San Jose Sharks for a conditional seventh-round pick that would become a third-round pick if they win the Stanley Cup*.
*The conditions, per the Isles official site: A seventh round selection in the 2015 NHL Draft, or the Tampa Bay Lightning’s seventh round pick in 2015 (previously acquired by the Islanders). If the Islanders win the Stanley Cup and Kennedy plays in at least 50% of the games in the Final, the Islanders will instead trade the later pick of either their third round pick in 2016 or Vancouver’s third round pick (previously acquired) in the 2016 NHL Draft.
Both Neuvirth and Kennedy are pending unrestricted free agents this summer.
Kennedy, 28, is still a useful bottom-six player who should provide injury insurance with fellow forwards Kyle Okposo, Mikhail Grabovski and Casey Cizikas all out with injuries of varying lengths. However, he has no significant history playing shorthanded and thus should not be counted on to improve the Islanders' bottom-dwelling penalty kill.
Neuvirth, who found out about the trade from TV, moves to his third team in the last calendar year. But he is a quietly good goalie with some solid underlying numbers in the nascent, field of evaluating goalies. He's been particularly good for the Sabres over the last month -- for what a month is worth in the voodoo world of goalies. He replaces Johnson, who was signed to a two-year deal with high hopes over the summer of stabilizing both spots in the crease, but his performance hasn't met those expectations.
Ironically, Neuvirth was traded for the man he will back up, Jaroslav Halak, at last season's trade deadline. They will now make a true Czechoslovakian tandem in the Isles crease. (Halak is the Slovak; Neuvirth is the Czech.)
Additional Minor-Minor Moves
The Islanders weren't done dealing with those additions to the NHL roster. They shed some players currently assigned to the AHL Bridgeport Sound Tigers, who are mired in a nine-game losing streak and almost certain to miss the playoffs:
- Forward Cory Conacher was moved to the Vancouver Canucks for Dustin Jeffrey, a 27-year-old AHLer with 124 games of NHL experience with the Stars and Penguins.
- Bridgeport goalie David Leggio was moved to the Arizona Coyotes for Mark Louis, a 6’4, 229-pound, 27-year-old who adds yet another body to the Bridgeport blueline.
More details to come as they're confirmed and as we regain access. (Apologies for the site access issues earlier. Our hamsters are working on it tirelessly, we assure you.)