UNIONDALE, NY- Garth Snow pulled off a blockbuster two years ago when he packaged prospects and a first-round draft pick for All-Star 40-goal scorer Ryan Smyth. But two years later, the only trade deadline move the Islanders made was shipping Bill Guerin to Pittsburgh for a conditional fifth-round pick that might turn into a third-round choice.
While the Guerin deal didn’t exactly dominate headlines around the league, it still ended days of speculation about the 38-year-old winger’s future. Snow also completed some minor deals yesterday, assigning Jon Sim to AHL Bridgeport and activated defenseman Thomas Pock and center Nate Thompson from injured reserve.
Impending free agents Andy Hilbert and Doug Weight were retained and Snow said both players could be offered contract extensions. The third-year general manager said the opportunity to shop veterans at the deadline was a unique experience.
“No, not disappointed or frustrated,” Snow said about the lack of deals. “For me it was the first time as GM that I’ve been in this situation where we were sellers…first year we were
buyers, last year we were two back from a playoff position…putting a price tag on certain deals…if it happened we would have seriously considered it obviously this year with the situation we were in we were looking obviously to be a seller.”
Islanders management touted this season as a youth movement where developing prospects would be valued more than wins and losses. Yet some player conflicts with first-year head coach Scott Gordon led to trading 24-year-old defenseman Chris Campoli and Mike Comrie in a trade to Ottawa that netted a late first-round pick.
When a club enters the deadline sporting an NHL-low 47 points and a 20-36-7 record and will not likely tout a 30-goal scorer for a second consecutive season, Snow suggested there is no list of untouchables on the roster.
“Obviously there is no one who is untradeable the same way Wayne Gretzky got traded, anything can happen…you can’t in a situation we’re in being in 30th place, have a lot of players who are untradeable.
“We have a good foundation of players who are returning and we can get healthy now, and over the summer and be flying when training camp arrives. But now obviously the team is playing well, we have a lot of younger players and the veterans who have done an admiral job in tough situations. We are here to win hockey games too.”
While Campoli was traded off Long Island, 34-year-old Brendan Witt will continue to call Nassau Coliseum his home. While that move might cause some people to question the consistency in touting a youth movement, Snow said Witt still has value to the team despite his public criticism of Gordon’s system earlier this season.
“To me Brendan Witt is what the Islanders are looking to be. He’s tough he plays with a lot of heart, selfless; he’s a good leader in the locker room. He’s a player we’ve had here for a few years now and were happy he’s back for two more.”
Snow did not immediately name a success for Guerin, who was the 11th captain in franchise history. He did praise the former 40-goal scorer for embracing the captaincy when he
signed a two-year contract
before the 2007-08 campaign.
“He’s a great leader,” Snow said. “It’s tough for me because Bill is a good friend of mine, it’s a tough part of the job for me when you have to do a move like this, with a player whose a close friend.”