Islanders trade deadline report and look ahead

By Bill Bennett

The Trade Deadline:

It was a Good News/Bad News Deadline day for the Islanders.

The Good News:

Mike Milbury did not sacrifice any of the teams future on draft day. The names Isbister, Mezei, DiPietro, Torres and Kolnik were all in rumors, along with Dave Scatchard. After all the years of trading in the kids, it was the right call to stick to a plan and see if one goal-scorer to play alongside Yashin this summer can be added. Which is why my last article had several offers that only should have been made if it was a complete steal for Mike Milbury’s roster.

The Isles did bring in Darren Van Impe from the Florida Panthers for a fifth rd pick this summer to give the defense some badly needed depth and in his early games has played in a pairing with Roman Hamrlik.

Van Impe played only thirty games with Boston last season because of an injury and was released before his arbitration hearing. The Rangers signed him where he saw spot duty before being picked up by Florida. Mike Keenan has a habit of making moves on impulse and Van Impe’s plus six rating on a poor Panthers team makes it an interesting move. We’ll see if he fits the Islanders system better which is half the story for many of these players who bounce from team to team without a real good look.

Minor Move:

Dave Roche was re-acquired by the Sound Tigers for
Ben Guite and Swedish product Bjorn Melin. Bridgeport clinched a playoff spot and is in a wild race with the Hartford Wolfpack (Rangers) for first place. Prospect Trent Hunter was leading the SoundTigers in goals at the time of the trade.

One of these games will be on Msg Network in early April from Hartford.

Impact of the Van Impe deal ?

Based on the early games it’s looking good because coach Peter Laviolette has trusted him to play, something he has not done with several players this season on defense.

Van Impe has played over twenty minutes in all three games he has been an Islander (Vancouver, Minnesota, Rangers) Adrian Aucoin has seen a reduction in minutes since Van Impe arrived.

Aucoin set a record for minutes played when he broke forty against Toronto in an overtime loss, that could not continue as it was clear Laviolette was running out three defenders at the end of the game, something had to change.

Dick Tarnstrom’s minutes have dropped, along with Eric Cairns. Both are good defenders and Tarnstom has skills at both ends of the ice that have slipped some since the Olympic Break. Confidence is so big with many of these players that one good game could get him back on track.

The Bad News:

The Isles did not add anything up front in a vote of confidence to the players who got them this far.

Fair enough, but this team has no depth to replace any injured forward outside of Mats Lindgren or Jim Cummins and no help for anyone who is not skating hard every night from here on. All speeches and closed door meetings have been tried by management, the team captain and the team internal leadership.

The price for Richer was a seventh round pick. He has a slapshot that Lou Lamoriello made room for on his roster and this is something the Isles forwards as a unit do not have as Richer fired a few rockets past Mike Dunham that did not count, but were very impressive.

The Islanders also did not make a play for Ray Ferraro, who was available for a fourth rd pick and would have been a help to Yashin, who is unable to take face-offs most nights. Ferraro can score big goals and is playoff experienced, he would have given the team a lift and it had nothing to do with 92-93.

Shawn Bates has played well, but is not scoring goals and the team needed a finisher who has the experience in big games. A lot is being asked of Bates, who has had a career year. The same can be said of Kip Miller, who scored his sixth goal Monday, and is a big part of the teams power play.

Was Benoit Hogue worth a waiver pickup ? Another Eastern Conference team thought so as Boston moved him.

On Defense, the Isles are out of options with regard to Evgeny Korolev. SoundTigers Coach Steve Stirling has had high praise for the twenty-three year old defender’s game.

Korolev, was not included on the SoundTigers Clear-Day roster for the AHL playoffs and is not eligible to play. He also now must clear waivers just to be sent down and watch.
Korolev will be the Isles seventh defender in case of injury and practice with the team the rest of the way. He should see some games if the Isles have a set spot in the playoffs by the final days. What is clear is that Korolev was the Isles best option because Mezei could not sit here and miss the AHL playoffs because he is a tenth overall pick and was not getting any real chance to play.

Ken Sutton’s injury forced the Isles to make a decision to have Korolev recalled, but it seems a rough fate for someone who was drafted twice by this organization and is on the outside looking in next fall with the return of Radek Martinek and a long look for Branislav Mezei.

And that’s not even counting Daruis Kasparaitis or a resigned Van Impe. And what about Ray Giroux and Kevin Haller ?

Deadline Day Analysis:

The Question has to be asked is progress for this franchise just playing a one round or going all out for a Cup when the price is a low draft pick ? At this point there is no way the year cannot be called a huge success in every possible way.

Like every team, the Cup must be a goal when you get in the playoffs and this year anything is possible in this Conference so a late pick for a player might have been the best move.

Looking Ahead:

The Islanders beat the Rangers at Nassau Coliseum ending one streak. Nothing is a lock and no post-Ranger letdown can be permitted as several streaks must end now too. The recent past against the upcoming teams have been a disaster with Ottawa not having lost on Long Island since 1996, along with the Caps streak, the Devils success at the Coliseum and a Leafs team that posted an impressive victory against a Lightning team that has been on a fantastic roll recently.

Buffalo also will be desperate next week to beat the Isles. (That game was pulled from Espn and has not been rescheduled at this time)

Garth Snow is going to have to play a few of these games (likely tonight) and give the team a chance to get points.

The Best News:

Well, that’s easy. The Islanders control their own destiny at a point in a season where that has not been the case since around 1988. What’s interesting is that they are due to get on a roll for maybe the first time all year as Laviolette, Milbury have noted this team has not played it’s best hockey yet. The early streak was more about great goaltending, not a team dominating at both ends of the ice. We all know several players have had poor season in terms of production and should be hungry to finish strong because the Isles prospects and maybe a free agent will be pushing players for jobs in September.

Other players are due for some good bounces (which Kvasha got Monday) and as long as they work hard, more should happen.

Many fans have wanted to see Parrish and Yashin play together and it’s looked good so far as Yashin, Bates and Parrish combined for the winner against the Wild with some great work in the corners by all three. Isbister and Czerkawski are where they belong on a good team for their age (the second line) and Peca will only make both better.

Chris Osgood has been on a good role and it must continue. What was clear is that his game had a lot of rust on it after the break, the recent run of games is the reason he is sharp and focused again. Claude Lapointe had some big time moments in the final seconds against Minnesota and the Rangers, his intangibles are priceless and I expect even more as the stakes go up. Webb has earned his icetime because he draws powerplays and hits like a truck.

Outside Notables:

Isles sixth rd pick Andy Chiodo was the winning goalie with 33 saves last night as St. Michaels Majors advanced in it’s playoff series.

Rick DiPietro won games three straight days over the weekend and posted a shutout over Albany in the final game on Sunday 1-0. He has had to play more with Valiquette out for a few games and now leads the AHL in wins to go with a high loss total.

David St.Germain was not recalled from Trenton and the SoundTigers signed a player to backup as a tryout goalie who is not in the organization.

Steve Stirling, Mike Milbury and Gordie Clark want to see how DiPietro responds to the extra work.