No Splashes, A Few Ripples for Snow
A year ago at this time, Islanders general manager Garth Snow earned his stripes by making a bold trade for Ryan Smyth. The man they called 'Captain Canada' in Edmonton did help the team make the playoffs, but spurned a good, multi-year offer and left Long Island for the mountains of Colorado. Dealing much of your future for a rental can come back to haunt you, and Snow - in his second year on the job - made it easier on himself this time around.
While he has previously stated that he would make the same trade all over again, Snow did not put his money where his mouth is on Tuesday. Granted, the Isles were in a more favorable position in 2007 for the postseason than they are this year, but Snow made a few quiet moves and then closed up shop.
The most important one was re-signing center Mike Comrie, who is the team's leading scorer in his first season in Uniondale. There was speculation that if he was not given an extension, Comrie would have been moved. But the two sides came to an agreement for a one-year deal to cover next season.
"I'm extremely happy to have reached an agreement with the Islanders for the 2008-09 season," Comrie said to reporters. "I love being an Islander and wanted to stay. The management and the coaches have shown great belief in us as players and I am honored to be a part of this organization."
Snow's next order of business was shedding some of the dead weight on his squad. In need of draft picks following the Smyth trade, the Islanders sent the volatile Chris Simon to the Minnesota Wild for a 2008 sixth round selection. The forward has had a rocky time on the Island, even with good friend Ted Nolan as head coach.
Defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron was then traded to the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a '08 third rounder. In his second season with the team, Bergeron had nine goals and nine assists in 46 games.
Following the moves, the Islanders recalled winger Jeff Tambellini from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League, where he was leading the league with 29 goals and fifth in scoring with 58 points. Snow realized that players such as Tambelinni need the experience, and the moves that he made allowed for that opening on the roster.
"We appreciate all the good things that Chris and Marc-Andre have done for the organization, but these trades allow us to play our younger kids," the GM told reporters.
At the present time, the Islanders are in the tenth position in the Eastern Conference with 67 points. They are not totally out of it and are only two points out of the eighth and final seed. It wouldn't be a total surprise if they made a run and find themselves right in the thick of things. But in reality, even if they did make it as a lower seed, elimination would come in the first round in the most likely scenarios. To find out if your prospects are ready is a good move by Snow, who is also working on a tight budget. The team needs to regroup in the offseason and take what they can out of this year and build on that. They are three games over .500 and have been fairly competitive. The newer additions have been helpful and if Snow can convince a few others to come aboard during the summer, they may just have good reason to pull off a stunner again at the 2009 trading deadline.