I want to say upfront that all the evidence points to Jason Chimera being a terrific guy and appreciated presence in the Islanders locker room in his season and change here.
That said, his second season in blue and orange was a hard one for everyone to endure, with returns speeding right past diminishing into disastrous territory pretty quickly.
In 2016-17, he ended up with 20 goals and 13 assists after a very productive second half. But his possession stats remained lousy (at just about 45% 5v5CF) and those vaunted wheels the 37-year-old supposedly still had were rarely seen.
This season, things went from not great to worse. As of today, Chimera had just two goals and nine assists in 58 games, and his 43.6% 5v5CF is among the worst in the NHL. The Islanders coaches finally bit the bullet a few weeks ago, making him a healthy scratch, which, whether coincidentally or not, resulted in the team finally being on the right side of the possession battle a couple of times, something they basically hadn’t done all season. All numbers via Natural Stat Trick, by the way.
And who is Chris Wagner? Good question. I have no idea. He’s got six goals and nine assists this season and a 46% 5v5CF. Not impressed yet? Well...
Chris Wagner is Jason Chimera but draws more penalties and mayyyyybe a little better on defense. pic.twitter.com/haaiZmAxBX— Alex Novet (@AlexNovet) February 26, 2018
Im a Wagner fan. Very good 4th liner, big hitter. https://t.co/zkSu1iUceo— Billy Jaffe (@BJaffe) February 26, 2018
With the #Isles acquisition of Chris Wagner, they now have 2 players in the Top 5 in hits (Wagner 2nd with 212 & Clutterbuck 5th with 185).— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) February 26, 2018
New Islander Chris Wagner is from Walpole, Mass., hometown of Mike Milbury.— Mark Herrmann (@markpherrmann) February 26, 2018
Monetarily, Wagner is a helluva lot cheaper than Chimera, making less than $700K as opposed to Chimera’s $2.25 million. Both are UFAs at the end of the season so it probably doesn’t matter anyway.
Maybe Wagner isn’t much better than Chimera. The hit totals make me wonder if the Islanders think he could be temporary (and much cheaper) Matt Martin. Or they could have just done their boy a favor by trading him to a team that’s in better playoff position than the Islanders are.
Most of us didn’t expect much from the Islanders today and it seems we were right. In addition to Wagner, they acquired probably fine defenseman Brandon Davidson from Edmonton on Saturday for a third round pick.
As always, the team will be left to their own devices to figure things out, something that they’ve proven to not be all that good at in the past. Their next game is Wednesday in Montreal. Try to contain your excitement.