In 1996, the New York Islanders were almost able to land Jeremy Roenick. Here’s the story behind the Islander that almost was.
Jeremy Roenick started his career with the Chicago Blackhawks back in 1988-1989 after being selected eighth overall in that year’s draft class. Roenick quickly became a star in this league putting up a 94 point season in his second full year in the league and then three straight 100 point seasons with two 50 goal seasons in the mix.
After the 1995-1996 season, the Blackhawks were looking to save money and Roenick became available. In August of 96, the Islanders were very close to landing the star center.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the Islanders were involved in “very heated” trade conversations about Roenick. So much so that a deal was in place for Roenick to sign once being traded to the Islanders.
The Isles were going to give him $25 million over five-years. If the Isles were to offer sheet Roenick, who was an RFA at the time, they would’ve had to give up their next five first-round picks, which is even too crazy for Mike Milbury.
The Islanders held two first-round picks in the next draft which were being discussed, and supposedly Chicago liked Darius Kasparaitis. Kasparaitis was a former fifth overall pick by the Isles who never had more than 21 points as a defenseman before this trade conversation.
Well, as we know the trade never went through. Instead, the Blackhawks traded Roenick to Phoenix for a 1997 first-round pick (turned into Ty Jones), Alexei Zhamnov, and Craig Mills.
Ty Jones played just 14 games in the NHL, eight with the Blackhawks, Zhamnov was pretty solid putting up five seasons of 60+ points with Chicago, and as for Mills, he played just 27 games for the Blackhawks.
It’s pretty safe to say the Coyotes won that trade. Over the next five years in Phoenix, Roenick would have 379 points in 454 games leading the team to the playoffs in four out of the five seasons he was there.
The Coyotes ended up signing him for five-years $20 million, which is $5 million less than the Islanders were offering which is kind of on the depressing side. It sure would’ve been fun to watch Roenick and Ziggy Palffy play together.
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And that’s the story of the Islanders almost landing a point per game player for a first-round pick and a mediocre defenseman. That’s one of the few trades I wish Milbury actually pulled the trigger on.