On the final day for trades among NHL teams, and with good players on bad clubs reportedly available, the Islanders’ big deadline acquisition ended up being one of their own prospects.
GM Garth Snow made no significant moves on the day, including not moving goalie Jaroslav Halak who was probably the most likely card he could play. The team’s complicated call-up of forward Joshua Ho-Sang - the AHL Rookie of the Month, by the way - was about the only transaction of note for the Islanders.
If you waited all day in anticipation of Matt Duchene, Jordan Eberle, Radim Vrbata or anyone else coming to Brooklyn as the Islanders geared up for a run at the playoffs, I’m sorry for your loss. Even though I didn’t think a big move was in the offing, I’m surprised Snow didn’t make some kind of depth move with his team just a point out of the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. Not even a Tyler Kennedy this year.
While a few of the teams battling the Islanders for that berth made their own deals, only Florida’s acquisition of Thomas Vanek from Detroit (for former Ranger Dylan McIlrath and a fourth rounder) really counts as a needle-moving move. After the buzzer, the Maple Leafs picked up battle-tested Eric Fehr from the Penguins (to go along with Brian Boyle) and the Bruins grabbed forward Drew Stafford from Winnipeg. The Lightning had Mark Streit for about an hour, first acquiring him from the Flyers for Valtteri Filppula then flipping him to Pittsburgh for a fourth round pick. Ottawa had already made its moves earlier, taking Alexandre Burrows from Vancouver and Viktor Stalberg from Carolina.
As disappointing as the Islanders’ day may have been, the entire deadline was mostly a dud across the NHL. Nashville getting P.A. Parenteau for a sixth rounder probably counts as one of the savvier moves. I love Jarome Iginla, but I don’t know what he’s going to bring to Los Angeles at this point. And the Canadiens decided to goon it up like the Syracuse Bulldogs, picking up Steve Ott, Dwight King and large Andreas Martinsen. Seriously, it kinda sucked.
And so, as expected, the Islanders roster for tomorrow night in Dallas looks much like it did on Saturday night in Columbus. Except Ho-Sang is there. See?
Eventually, they’ll get back Cal Clutterbuck, Shane Prince and Travis Hamonic from injuries (Casey Cizikas, too. But it’ll be a while). Either Snow thinks that’s enough to make the playoffs, or the prices he was hearing weren’t to his liking or the packages he was offering weren’t to his colleague’s likings. We’ll have to wait until the dust settles to find out. In the end, the team still retains their prospects and draft picks, which isn’t the worst thing.
Colorado GM Joe Sakic decided to hold onto Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog, and he could hunt for better deals at the draft. We’ve heard rumors that the Islanders had made competitive offers matching Sakic’s high prices, but we don’t know for sure. Sakic’s only move for his league-worst club was getting prospect Sven Andrighetto from Montreal and sending Iginla to the Kings for a conditional fourth rounder that could turn into absolutely nothing at all if he doesn’t re-sign in L.A. There might have been some legal weed action in the Avalanche war room today.
Avs said they wouldn't be pressured into deadline deal unless their prices were met. Their prices were not met, so off to off season we go.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 1, 2017
Like Sakic, Coyotes GM John Chayka chose to hold onto possible rentals Vrbata and Shane Doan.
Not moving the AHL-constrained Halak is a little surprising, but given his $3.5 million cap hit, $4.7 and $5 million salaries for this and next season and the fact that, historically, the Islanders aren’t a team that retains salary, it does make some sense. Maybe - and this is just me talking - another lackluster performance or two from Jean-Francois Berube brings Halak back up from Bridgeport. Or they wait until the season ends to just buy him out or hope he ends up in Las Vegas via the expansion draft.
I don’t know what kind of message this lack of movement says to the players. The Islanders weren’t in Win Now Mode like the Capitals or Wild are, and the likelihood of a rental was low to begin with. Maybe they figure they got this far on their own, they can finish the job and make the playoffs and worry about next season next season.
For us, it says we’ll have to wait - once again - for the Islanders to make a big league-wide splash. If we’re lucky, maybe he’ll be wearing No. 66 in white tomorrow night.