UNIONDALE, NY- Instead of a slew of comings and goings, the Islanders made just one anticipated deal before the NHL’s trade deadline Wednesday.
General manager Garth Snow’s only move was an expected transaction, as the Islanders traded Bill Guerin to Pittsburgh for a conditional draft pick. The Isles will receive no worse than a fifth round pick that could be bumped up to a fourth-round choice if the Penguins qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Should the Pens win a postseason round and Guerin appears in half of Pittsburgh’s games, the Islanders will receive a third rounder. The fifth-round selection originally belonged to Tampa Bay.
“The entire Islanders organization has the utmost respect for Bill Guerin and we sincerely thank him for his time on Long Island and as the team’s captain,” Snow said.
Before the 3 p.m. deadline, NHL clubs completed 22 trades totaling 45 players and 21 draft picks. But the Islanders did not make any more trades after shipping out the team’s captain. Snow held on to impending free agents Doug Weight and Andy Hilbert and also kept defensemen Brendan Witt and Radek Martinek, who were rumored to be on the trading block.
“As a seller, you can’t make a trade for the sake of making a trade,” Snow said in Room 6 at Nassau Coliseum, the same site where two years ago the Isles shocked the league by acquiring All-Star Ryan Smyth for a stretch-run deadline deal.
Guerin became the 11th captain in franchise history when he signed a two-year deal before the 2007-08 season. He was one of just two Isles to crack the 20-goal mark in last season, notching 23 goals and 21 assists in 81 games. He tallied 39 goals in 142 games for the Islanders, including career goal No. 400 earlier in the current campaign. The 38-year-old will be joining his seventh team after agreeing to waive his no-move clause to go to a Penguins team that went to the Stanley Cup Finals last spring.
“Billy brings that veteran presence,” Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero said. “He’s a right winger with a right shot, and he can still skate. I talked to him this afternoon after the trade and I told him what I was expecting of him. He’s a goal scorer. Billy Guerin can play with good players and score goals – he’s certainly done that in the past. I think we have the players for him to play with and support him.
“He has size. We wanted to get bigger and we wanted to get a little bit stronger up front and I believe that’s a good fit. Hopefully it’s a good move for both of us.”
The move settled a situation?
that dominated talk around the Islanders after Snow pulled Guerin from the ice before Saturday night’s against Buffalo. Guerin skated in the pregame warmup but was not on the bench for the opening faceoff. He also was held out of Monday’s victory over Colorado, fueling trade speculation that had reports suggesting Guerin could be headed to Montreal or Washington.
“I had a conversation leading up to the warm-up and after contacting Bill’s agent and talking it over a little bit, it was in everyone’s best interest that he probably shouldn’t play and when I say we, I mean the three of us…really didn’t want to risk bill getting injured,” Snow said.
Snow left open the possibility for re-signing Hilbert and Weight and said he never intended to conduct whole-sale changes despite the Isles league-low 47 points and 20-36-7 record.
“We’ll do whatever we have to do to be better,” Snow said. “We weren’t going just go in and have a fire sale. If we identify a free agent to be as someone as we can re-sign, we’ll take that road.”
Last year at the trade deadline, the Penguins also made a move at the deadline before playing the Islanders. The same press room at Nassau Coliseum was where the Pens announced Marian Hossa’s acquisition, which propelled Pittsburgh into the finals. Entering Wednesday night, the Pens were clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot with 72 points and 17 games remaining.
“They’re playing great; I’m really looking forward to it,”
Guerin told TSN. “I’ll just go in and be myself. They get you for a specific reason. The best thing you can do is just go and be yourself and support the
leadership that they have there. It’s a great opportunity for me.”
On a side note, Guerin’s acquisition comes on the same day the Pens assigned former Islander Miroslav Satan to AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Satan was subjected to trade rumors last deadline but the Isles kept him for the remainder of the regular season and let him leave as a free agent over the summer.