After getting him from Anaheim for a steal over the summer, James Wisniewski has been traded to the Montreal Canadians for a 2nd round compensatory pick in the 2011 draft and a 5th round conditional pick in the 2012 draft. This move, at this point in the season, was a bit surprising and bewildering, though, of course, there has been a lot said both good and bad about Wizzer all season.
Personally, I think Wisniewski had a lot thrust upon him with the injuries to Mark Streit and most of the other “veteran” defensemen. You can only ask so much of a guy who is not accustom to, perhaps, having to do it all. Whether it is excuses or not, he demonstrated his moments of brilliance out there, but in other instances, it was clear that the load might have been too much for him. The bottom line is he has a much better situation for himself in Montreal, and the Islanders have lost a veteran presence on the ice and in the locker room. From my perspective, I was really starting to like the guy and felt that things would have gotten much better for him upon the return of Mark Streit. Nevertheless, that doesn’t matter now.
Does this mean management has “given up” already on the season? Was this a salary dump move? Was this an effort to see if Andrew McDonald or Travis Hamonic can step up into “bigger roles” on the blue line? I don’t know, nor am I going to seriously speculate at this point. All I will say is this was a turn of events that took me by surprised when my brother read the news flash during the Verses game last night between Boston and Tampa Bay.
As for the team itself, after impressive wins in New Jersey last Thursday and with the “blizzard game” at home beating the Canadians on Sunday, the wheels fell off the bus for the Isles in the third period against the Rangers on Monday at MSG. I am not going to comment on that particular game, as a lot has already been said in other places by now and I have nothing insightful to add. The Penguins are up next tonight for the Islanders, which will be the final game for Pittsburgh before they play Washington on New Years day for this year’s Winter Classic. The Penguins are coming off a 6-3 win over Atlanta last night, so, perhaps, the Isles can catch them a little tired on the tail end of the back to back games. With Sidney Crosby carrying a 25 game point scoring streak, though, it is still not going to be an easy task to contain the Pittsburgh offense. Evgeni Malkin has been heating up as well since returning from a knee injury, so the young Islander defense is going to have their hands full.
Overall, however, I am going to be curious to see who will now quarterback the power play for the Islanders. I think we could very well see Travis Hamonic get handed even more responsibility. I think him and Andrew MacDonald will now be asked to carry much more of the offensive load from the back line. In my humble opinion, I think they will be able to handle it and shine even more brightly as a part of the future of this organization.