There might not be a GM in the NHL who is in a more vexing position at the trade deadline than Garth Snow of the New York Islanders. Here’s a guy whose team is life and death to make the playoffs, playing in a market where any ray of hope has to be desperately pursued.
He has nine players in his dressing room – Miroslav Satan, Mike Comrie, Ruslan Fedotenko, Trent Hunter, Joe Vasicek, Chris Simon, Bryan Berard, Freddy Meyer and Wade Dubielewicz – who are headed for unrestricted free agency if they’re not signed prior to July 1.
A number of them – Satan, Comrie, Fedotenko, Hunter and Vasicek – are precisely the kinds of players contending teams look to pick up at the deadline. They’d be reasonably priced and might give a team the kind of secondary offense that is so important in the post-season when the collars on the offensive players in the league get infinitely tighter.
Of that group of players, only Satan has a no-trade clause.
There’s nothing to suggest the Islanders would make a serious run in this year’s playoffs. If they managed to squeak in, chances are they would be first-round fodder.
Last year, you’ll remember, Snow went big at the deadline by acquiring Ryan Smyth, then watched his team win just one playoff game before Smyth bolted to the Colorado Avalanche as a UFA.
“I’d make that deal again,” Snow said the other day.
And why not? The assets he gave up likely won’t have much of an impact in the NHL, anyway. And it was the bold move Snow needed to make to show the few Long Island faithful he was willing to take risks to make the team better.
So what to do this year? Go out and get another rental?
Forget that nonsense.
The Islanders would be out of their minds to try that again with this crew of players.
Keep the status quo and hope the team makes the playoffs?
That’s the most likely scenario. Then Snow can take his chances on being able to sign the free agents he wants back.
Or do the Islanders peddle the valued assets they have and get some draft picks or middling prospects in return for their veterans?
Snow might not think that’s worth it, particularly since he probably won’t have any better idea on Feb. 26 whether his team will make the playoffs than he does today.
Fedotenko said after Thursday night’s win over the Toronto Maple Leafs that he sincerely wants to stay past the deadline and re-sign with the Islanders next season.
Comrie said he has already had talks with the Islanders about a contract extension, but isn’t sure what will happen as the deadline approaches. “We’ve talked briefly, but we haven’t talked about specific numbers,” said Comrie, who signed a one-year deal with the Islanders worth $3.375 million last summer. “We have a really good group here, some good people, and we have really bonded together. Sometimes it’s hard for a team to find that connection, but we have it.”
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