General Manager Garth Snow decided to pull the trigger on a deal yesterday instead of waiting until the heavily anticipated March 4th trade deadline madness. In a deal with the Ottawa Senators receiving young defense-man Chris Campoli and center Mike Comrie, the Isles got back in return left-wing Dean McAmmond and San Jose's first round pick in this year's draft.
With Doug Weight out for most likely the rest of the season, it's all but assured that he won't go anywhere else besides the press-box at an Islanders game. Many were hoping to see Doug traded for hopefully another first-round pick being that he was having a great year and is a long-time NHL vet that would have value on a young playoff team. That isn't a knock on Weight; he's been an excellent addition by Garth Snow and I'm sure many will be happy to see him back next year if he's resigned, but being that this team is in a rebuilding phase many saw an opportunity to add depth to our farm system.
And the trade that Garth Snow executed yesterday will do just that. Keep in mind that this is San Jose's pick, not Ottawa's, so it will most likely be in the bottom 5 of the first round. Either way, that's still not a bad pick-up.
At first when I saw Chris Campoli was traded I was very disappointed since he has shown plenty of upside in his years here and is still young at the age of 24. However, according to Chris Botta's blog at Islanderspointblank.com, Campoli had requested a trade by the deadline. Whatever his reasons were for wanting to leave shouldn't matter. When a player does not want to be on your team you have to make a deal because it just won't work out in the end. Hopefully Chris will have a great career in Ottawa, just not when he plays the Isles of course.
Mike Comrie was a player who never really got it going on the Island. At first he credited a bad hip that forced him to miss several games in both of his two seasons as the reason why his play was hampered. But even when he did play without any agitation, he still wasn't the player that the coaching staff wanted to see. He usually was one of the slower skaters on a team that emphasizes speed and wasn't producing much in the points category. When he was with the Senators he did have one of his best outings registering 25 points in 41 games played as a strong depth-center and is expected to do the same since he's returning to a place where he never wanted to leave.
McAmmond will serve as a depth forward and adds veteran presence to a young Isles team. He's a UFA at the end of this year, meaning three things. 1) He will remain with the Isles and sign elsewhere next summer, 2) He will play for a roster spot and be re-signed this off-season, or 3) He could be traded a second time by the March 4th deadline as a playoff rental for another team.
The most important piece of this deal is getting another first round pick. Right now the Islanders have 2 first round picks and 3 second round picks. Once again Garth Snow is stocking himself for this year's draft much like he did last season, although so far he hasn't had to trade down from his original draft position - and being that he's most likely looking at the 1st or 2nd overall, I'm sure NO ONE wants to see him trade down. Garth is proving that he is sincerely focused on drafting a young Isles team to one day look like the Chicago Blackhawks or the Pittsburgh Penguins. Depending on who the Isles draft this year will go a long way for the Isles future.
But who might be next on the trade block? Many were speculating the Brendan Witt could be dealt. He already openly criticized Scott Gordon's system, citing it as a gateway for odd-man rushes from the opposition and putting defense-man out of position. Since then Gordon has made some changes and the defense has tightened up, excluding the 6-2 loss to the Hurricanes the other night. Although I think Witt is a great defensive defense-man that I was incredibly excited to have signed, he is getting older and slower and doesn't fit Gordon's system. If he is still here after March you will not see me complaining by any means, but I won't be surprised if he's gone either.
But Campoli being traded may end up being the factor that keeps Brendan here. Our defense has enough trouble as it is staying healthy and we just lost one of our younger dmen. It is expected that Jack Hillen will step in and get the first crack of filling the void left after the trade, but if Witt is traded who will they turn to next? Sutton is still on the IR and Martinek gets hurt way too easily and Freddy Meyer hasn't seen game action in some time now. If Witt is traded I would expect maybe a pick to come in return with a defensive prospect.
Captain Bill Guerin is also rumored to be on the trade block too, but with Comrie traded, Weight injured, and Sillinger out for the season, there are not many other veteran players on this team that can be heavily relied upon. Throw in that Guerin has a no-trade clause that he would have to waive if Snow were to approach him. This team's main focus is on the youth, but even though we're a last place team they still have to remain competitive. Unless a young NHL'er is sent to us in a deal for at least one of our veterans I wouldn't expect a huge fire sale.
Either way, this trade makes things interesting and is causing a lot of speculation for what might be up Garth Snow's sleeve come March 4th.