Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Isles Execute Perfect Dive at the Deadline

That is to say, no splash. Greg Louganis would be impressed. I can't say that I'm too disappointed at the way in which the day unfolded, especially considering my recent call for stability and continuity. My only concern is whether Garth Snow will be able to add a top-tier talent or two over the summer to boost this club out of the middle of the pack. That would have been a concern regardless of what happened today, barring an aberrant inflation in the value of Fedotenko, Vasicek, or Satan. I certainly wasn't expecting anything splashy.

It's good to see that Jeff Tambellini will continue to get a look, and I hope that when the season is over there's no doubt that it was a fair look. When Tambellini was sent down recently to accommodate Chris Simon's return, it didn't bother me that much simply because it was obvious that Tambellini wouldn't be receiving worthwhile minutes. He was better off back at Bridgeport getting first-line minutes than playing 6-8 minutes a night on the Island.

Here are some quick thoughts on the deals that were made...

Rob Davison from San Jose for a 7th-round pick. Here, Garth Snow simply filled a need. In his fifth season in the NHL, Davison has yet to establish himself as a no-brainer for a spot in the lineup every night, partially due to being injured frequently. However, his reputation as a tough customer and a tough, reliable defender should make him a welcome addition to the Islanders' depleted defensive corps. For now, Davison slots nicely into the role vacated by Andy Sutton. Brendan Witt's pending return will create job competition between Davison and Aaron Johnson for the last spot on the blue line--unless Ted Nolan becomes dissatisfied with Bryan Berard.

Marc-Andre Bergeron to Anaheim for a 3rd-round pick. This one is puzzling mostly because you have to wonder what Anaheim wants with Bergeron. He's not going to take power-play time away from Pronger, Niedermayer, or Schneider. Perhaps Brian Burke is sending a message to Francois Beauchemin, whose play has slipped this year. I have to think that Bergeron will be spending most of the next 20 games in the press box (Burke knows how to get tickets there). From an Islander perspective, it's not as though Bergeron's relative success on the power play was raising the level of the team's overall man-advantage play. The Islanders entered tonight's game succeeding with the extra man at a rate of only 16.2%, ranked 24th in the league. Given the choice, I might have kept Bergeron over Berard. There's little chance that choice was available because I doubt Berard had much trade value, let alone a third-rounder. Call this one moving on now, rather than sooner or later.

Chris Simon to the Wild for a 6th-round pick. I understood Ted Nolan's reasoning for wanting a player like Simon in the lineup. You don't necessarily need a guy who's going to beat the stuffing out of someone every game. But it helps when the other team knows that there's a guy around who can do that. That being said, my biggest concern about the trade of Simon is not the loss of his protection services but how it affects the relationship between Nolan and the front office. Mike Schuerlein of IslesBlogger.com reported today that Nolan was "clearly unhappy" that Simon was sent packing. I don't think Nolan will punish Tambellini because he's taking Simon's spot in the lineup. I hope the coach doesn't take the deal as a personal slight, and I have no reason to believe that he will. The bottom line is that Simon would have had a diminished role with the Islanders and his roster spot is better spent on a player who is up and coming. I'd like to put a smiley face on the trade by telling you that moving on and getting a fresh start is the best thing for Simon, and that Nolan endorsed the idea for that reason. Of course, I don't know if that's really the case. I imagine that, like Brian Campbell, Colby Armstrong, and others, he would have been happier to stay where he was.

With only a few hours of perspective, I feel that the net result is that it became harder for the Islanders to make the playoffs today. The team obviously didn't improve its talent level and I have this fear that the power play is going to go 0-for-80 the rest of the way (0-for-7 so far tonight). The unusual thing is that if they do miss the playoffs, I'm already excited about next year. The Kid Line is looking more and more comfortable, and the biggest kid isn't even here yet. The GM has a plan, and so far he's sticking to it.

Some may think that the best thing now is to fade into a lottery pick. That just goes against all of my instincts. Maybe I still haven't recovered from seven straight years of being on the outside looking in (and 22-win seasons). With only 18 more games left after tonight, I still want the Islanders to be in the thick of things come April.


w0lfpack said...

Firstly, Thanks to the welcome to the community. Love the work you guys do already and wanna just help it growing bigger and bigger. Secondly, think your dead on, definitely regarding the excitement about next year part. Having a plan in place is more then we've had in 15 years and the best run organizations always have a clear cut plan. IM sure the loss of Simon cuts Teddy, but he has to realize how much of a pr success this is.

ken d. said...

For a guy who wasn't in the building, a pretty good assessment.

Lots of conflicting messages today about Simon. I see Mike's entry, but balance that with quotes from Ted saying "you guys seem unable to separate me from Chris" and from Simon himself saying he was "quietly hoping" to be traded.

Frankly, I was surprised Garth found a taker.

Despite your wishes (and mine) for April (and May) hockey, I feel the inevitable slide coming. The good news is that youth is served and the team has a boatload of '08 draft picks. Oh yeah, and [name redacted] isn't here anymore to destroy the franchise.

I'll stop by saying a succinct recap of events by you as always.

Islanders Outsider said...

Thanks for the additional perspective on Simon, Ken. Perhaps, there was a welcomed fresh start aspect to this after all. I, too, was surprised that there was an opening for Simon somewhere. Maybe the Western Conference is tougher than we easterners give it credit for, and the Wild felt they needed to bulk up for the stretch run/playoffs.

Good to have you come by w0lfpack.

Dominik said...

Sweet analysis, Ken. Right on.

I'll say one thing about Davison: His hip check last night was a sign he'll fill at least one part of Sutton's role quite well!