If you're reaction to hearing the New York Islanders acquired Shane Prince and a 7th-round pick from the Ottawa Senators for a 3rd-round pick was "Who? The little red corvette guy?", you're not alone.
The speedy 23-year-old forward has not become a household name since being drafted at the end of the second round in 2011, and the reasons for that explain why the Isles took a flier on him and why the Senators were looking to send him away.
Prince put up .8 points per game in 141 AHL games at age 21 and 22, and his underlying stats have been good in 44 NHL games with the Senators (42 of which came this season), but his usage has been limited and by several accounts it seems he just didn't fit coach Dave Cameron's plans.
(There were also rumblings, now two years old, that he wanted a trade or would consider the KHL. Take that with your average player poker and Internet speculation and file it away for if and when RFA contract talks happen this summer.)
His deployment resulted in production of just 12 points in 42 games this season, which aren't the kind of boxcar numbers that excite fans at the trade deadline.
Missed Opportunity for Sens
Of course, context is everything, and he put up those numbers logging just 10.5 minutes per game, none of it on the power play. Analytics-oriented Senators observers will tell you giving him away now represents a wasted opportunity -- as well as discarding one of the reasons frequent linemate Chris Neil is having a decent season.
From a Senators partisan's perspective, it's frustrating to see other left wings get the nod over Prince, especially when you chart how he stacks up against them. Silver Seven's reaction:
In the end, I don't get why you trade him for what at best is a wash, at worst is a huge loss. If the team needed to offload someone, why not Puempel who has been more disappointing in both the AHL and NHL and has a higher draft pedigree? Why not Alex Chiasson, who likely would've got a better return and reportedly was asked about but Bryan Murray refused to deal?
But of course Islanders fans know that feeling too, as each team has its own players who get less opportunity than other traditional "grinder" and bottom-six players. If the coach isn't using a player, one option is to remove the problem.
Cheap, Controlled Depth and Possession Addition for Isles
That's not to say this deal is a steal or sure thing by any means; there's no guarantee he gets any better opportunity in Brooklyn. But it is an informed bet that Prince can add scoring depth even if in limited minutes down the stretch and, potentially, even more as he enters restricted free agency this summer. It was a low-cost move for a guy whose possession stats are good and who is under team control.
From the Islanders' perspective, that's basically what they've done. Prices for older veterans and UFAs were high at this deadline, and the Islanders weren't looking for a dramatic makeover in what could be this core's last run together before a larger makeover happens this summer.
Prince isn't likely to get the top-six or power play minutes he missed in Ottawa, though the Islanders power play could always use a different look, even if just on the second unit. But the Rochester native is a candidate to play more than 10 minutes a game when he does play, particularly if Mikhail Grabovski stays on or returns to IR for any length of time.
For now, he's a nice depth addition up front at a fine price. He adds to the "internal competition" the Isles seek even while largely keeping the same group of forwards the last two seasons.
As the playoff push continues, the combo of left winger Prince, seldom-used but effective Steve Bernier, and the center capability of several Islanders forwards means the Islanders have pro insurance at all three forward positions before having to dip into Bridgeport for reinforcements. (Doesn't hurt that he beats last year's forward addition either.)
And if Prince seizes this opportunity and proves useful enough to remain beyond this season, all the better.