Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Weight Injury and What It Means for the Deadline

The sprained MCL that Doug Weight suffered Wednesday at New Jersey has significantly altered the outlook of the trade deadline for the Islanders. Before the injury, I (and probably everyone else) had the team's assets ranked as follows in terms of trade value:

1. Doug Weight
2. Brendan Witt
3. Mike Comrie
4. Bill Guerin

Guerin, though his perceived value may be higher than Witt's or Comrie's, ranks behind those two because his no-movement clause makes it more difficult for the Islanders to leverage his value.

But the loss of Weight from the picture doesn't necessarily mean that everyone else simply moves up a spot. Witt does become the most marketable trade chip. Philadelphia, Dallas, Chicago, and a few others are said to be intent on adding a defenseman. Just realize that Witt is hardly the only one available. After that, things become somewhat muddled.

If the Islanders were going to bring back a potentially useful young player, such as the oft-mentioned Marc Methot, it would have been for Weight. Comrie doesn't just take Weight's place in that kind of deal. You can pretty much eliminate the idea of the Islanders acquiring someone who is ready to step in now or next year—except for one scenario, which I'll get to shortly. What will be interesting to watch is how Scott Gordon uses Comrie over the next couple of weeks. Will the Islanders decide that they need Comrie to help fill the void left by Weight? Or will they use the injury as an opportunity to give another Sound Tiger a promotion? Ben Walter, Jeremy Colliton, and Kurtis McLean could all get another look. Depending on how they perform, Comrie could be deemed more or less expendable. If it's more, then the question is whether the return is worth the paperwork.

Weight's injury also impacts Guerin's status. Suppose Weight had stayed healthy and the Islanders decided to move him. That may have resulted in Guerin being more likely to waive his no-movement clause (unless they had some agreement by which Guerin agreed to stick around for the benefit of Weight's left-behind family—you know how tight those guys are). With Weight not going anywhere, Guerin has more incentive to stick around. And without the perceived obligation to convert the movable asset, Weight, into something of value, it's much less complicated for the Islanders to entertain another a year of Weight's skills, leadership, and infectious personality. You know the old saying: where there's Weight, there's Guerin. (Yet Smoke hasn't gotten a sniff all season.)

Based on all that, I think there's a new entry in the rankings that comes above Guerin, and maybe above Comrie. (A certain former PR exec already stole my thunder a little on this, but I'm going to proceed anyway.) This scenario assumes that Garth Snow has his heart set on continuing to fill out his draft-day coffers. With less depth (or height) in his stack of chips, he may have to make a tough decision on a young player who hasn't quite hit his stride yet. The new expendable asset is...the Upside Kids. Chris Campoli, Sean Bergenheim, and, to a lesser extent, Bruno Gervais, Jeff Tambellini (lots of you would pack for him), and even Blake Comeau (lots would howl).

Certainly, the last three may have more value to the Islanders as themselves than as trade bait. But if they have reached their ceiling for usefulness, then there's no reason why Snow shouldn't try something else with them. Campoli and Bergenheim, while potentially able to bring back a worthwhile pick, could be used another way—in an even swap for another young player who hasn't quite gotten over the hump in his current organization. I wouldn't be thrilled to see the Islanders taking on projects at this stage of the franchise's development curve, but if the project comes with size, toughness, or finishing ability, then trading one of the Upside Kids for someone else's upside kid might be a good gamble.

So let's revise the rankings:

1. Witt
2. Upside Kids
3. Comrie
4. Guerin

(This post was originally published at http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog.php?post_id=19372 on February 13, 2009.)

3 comments:

Dominik said...

I'm open to any of the Upside Kids to go if there are picks coming (though I agree, might as well keep Campoli if the return is negligible). Campoli and Gervais are both logging a lot of minutes, certainly getting a lot of exposure.

So torn on Bergenheim. He's so up and down -- and he gets yanked from line to line. So I keep thinking we're on the cusp of seeing more ... but then I've been thinking that for a while.

At least if they did deal Bergenheim, I'm now confident we at least wouldn't be dumping someone who will really burn us later.

Islanders Outsider said...

Maybe Garth can swap Bergie for Nilsson!

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