NY Islanders News

Will the Isles Be Buyers or Sellers Before the Trade Deadline?

By John Panarese
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With a 23-31-8 record and 13 points out of a playoff spot with 1 game in hand, it’s been interesting to read the opinions of many as to whether Garth Snow will make any moves prior to the trade deadline on Monday.  One has to wonder if it is even worth trying to bring anyone else in who could help the offense or our injury-plagued defense at this point?  At the same time, is trading away guys for more draft picks a viable option either?

As someone who doesn’t like the idea of “quitting”, to me, the Islanders won’t be “out of a playoff spot” until the proverbial fat lady sings.  When they are mathematically eliminated, then I’ll consider that to be the case.  Stranger things have certainly happened in the world, and whatever the experts might say or claim, well, it’s just additional opinion too.  Frankly, anything is possible, and with 21 games left, even 13 points isn’t an impossibility to overcome.  Of course, a lot of things would have to happen in the Islanders’ favor, but with all the talk about the Devils having a shot to make the 8 spot, wouldn’t that also apply to them?

With that said, however, to me, making any trades to bring someone in would most likely harm the chemistry and core of the team, instead of help them.  The team is developing and coming together, so why trade someone away to bring a “stranger” in when we’d be better off seeing just how far this group can progress?  Wouldn’t it be more logical to discover what this current group of guys can do together and find out who steps up and shines over these last 21 games?  I think that would simply serve the franchise better in the long term, especially as decisions will have to be made over the summer and come the fall.

I’m sure there are fans out there who could suggest any number of guys  who are available for the “right price” who might “help” the Islanders.  Obviously, it’s all a matter of opinion.  To me, though, the situation of this team is not the same as a team who might be 2 or 4 points out and who really could use that last piece of the puzzle to help them get over the top.  A “Butch Goring” type of trade is simply something the current Isles are not ready to have occur.  Another year or two down the road with further development and, perhaps, the circumstances would be different.  At this stage, however, I just don’t see that being a realistic outcome.

I have also been reading about the mindset that Garth will unload a few more guys for draft picks before the deadline.  Rob Schremp, Radek Martinek, and Zenon Konopka seem to be the names that often come up.  Again, not that my opinion is worth much, but I see no point in making any move at this juncture in “unloading” anyone.  You can make the argument in any manner you like, but it doesn’t seem advantageous to trade any of those 3 guys right now.

Schremp, without a doubt, has not played in a way as many of us have hoped or up to his potential.  He has shown real flashes of talent and skill, but he just has not come to life like he did last season.  I think we all were expecting more from him, and he has been a healthy scratch from the lineup quite a bit over the last few weeks.  Perhaps, of the 3, he might arguably be the “best” candidate to be moved, but, nevertheless, to me, I’d rather show a bit more patience with him and see what happens next season as there will be more “competition” for roster spots.  I just think with confidence and time, Schremp could easily be another offensive surprise in the near future, but, once more, that is plainly the opinion of one guy writing this post.

Martinek, on a team that has had so many injuries to the defense, is someone I feel the Isles could not afford to trade.  Yes, I know some will quickly point out his injury history and come up with the stats indicating how many games he has missed over the years.  The bottom line is, though, the guy has been probably the most solid and sound d-man we have had when he is healthy.  He does so many things that are simply important, and having him and Milan Jurcina in the lineup can only help the younger guys on the back line.  Maybe, a decent draft pick could come in exchange for Martinek, but I personally see more value in holding on to him, especially at this point in time.

Finally, as someone who has become a big fan of Mr. Konopka and feel that his value goes well beyond any stats, I’d be extremely disappointed and frankly miffed if Snow traded him.  Offense and production are one thing, but it is often the things that don’t make it onto the score sheet a player does that are just as, if not more important for a team.  As I said, Z says the right things, does the right things, and really defines the term, “team player” in his style of play.  Garth Snow should be signing this guy to an extension and not entertaining offers for him.  It’s been a long time since the Isles have had a guy like Konopka, and removing him from the team equation would be far more harmful than anything else.  I don’t care how many penalty minutes he has or how many fights he has gotten into this season.  In fact, that aspect of Z’s game is exactly what I find to be an important part of ANY game for the New York Islanders, a team that has often been pushed around and generally abused by other teams.

Again, however, it is all open to interpretation and opinion.  I am, of course, not a GM in the NHL for good reason.  I don’t expect Snow to make any moves by Monday, yet, at the same time, I am a realist and understand that my feelings and opinions don’t mean a hill of beans in the big picture.  Still, I always find the trade deadline to be fascinating and entertaining, as we have already seen some pretty interesting deals go down so far.  Who knows what Gary and I might be writing about by Monday afternoon.

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