Islanders Try Addition by Subtraction at the Trade Deadline

Brad KurtzbergContributor IFebruary 27, 2012

UNIONDALE, NY - SEPTEMBER 15:  Islanders General Manager Garth Snow speaks to the media during a press conference to announce center John Tavares has signed a six-year contract extension with the New York Islanders on September 15, 2011 at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for New York Islanders)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Islanders GM Garth Snow didn’t make any blockbuster deals at the trade deadline, but the Isles did make some minor moves that can best be described as addition by subtraction.  Forward Brian Rolston and defenseman Mike Mottau were both dealt to the Boston Bruins.  In return, the Islanders got two minor league players: forward Yannick Riendeau and defenseman Marc Cantin.

The big deals that were the subject of so much speculation never took place.  Evgeni Nabokov is still an Islander and, according to published reports, negotiations between the veteran goalie and the Islanders regarding a contract extension took place during the day and will continue.  Nabokov is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer if no new deal is reached.

Forward P.A. Parenteau is also still with the Isles.  Parenteau is fifth in the league with 43 assists and has set a career-high with 58 points (with 20 games remaining on the schedule).  Parenteau has been a big part of the Islanders' power play and has six goals and 18 points with the man advantage this season. 

Negotiations between Parenteau’s agent and the Islanders are also ongoing.  P.A. has indicated he wants to stay on Long Island and that he appreciates the chance the Islanders gave him to play in the NHL after the Blackhawks and Rangers more-or-less gave up on him.  Like Nabokov, Parenteau will be a UFA this summer if no deal can be reached. 

UNIONDALE, NY - DECEMBER 06:  Brian Rolston #11 of the New York Islanders skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on December 6, 2011 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Lightning 5-1.  (Photo by Bruc
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Rolston was never really a good fit on Long Island and would have to be labeled a disappointment since signing with the club before the start of this season.  In 49 games, he scored just four goals and nine points and was a minus-12.  While Rolston was a power play specialist throughout his NHL career, he had just one assist with the man advantage with the Islanders.  With Rolston’s departure, rookie Nino Niederreiter should get the chance to earn some additional ice time.

Mottau has struggled with injuries throughout his two seasons with the Isles.  He played in only 29 games this season and picked up two assists.  He was a minus-10 and added 15 penalty minutes.  Mottau was signed as a depth defenseman before the 2010-11 season when Mark Streit went down with an injury.  The Islanders now have some younger players with more upside who can fill Mottau’s role of depth defenseman.

A change of scenery may benefit both Rolston and Mottau. While neither player will likely see extensive minutes with the defending Stanley Cup champions, they will both add to the Bruins' depth as they head into the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

Neither of the two players the Islanders acquired in the deal were drafted by an NHL team.  Riendeau, 21, started the season with the ECHL’s Reading Royals where he scored nine goals and 29 points in 30 games.  The 5’10”, 178-pound Boucherville, Quebec, native was promoted to the Providence Bruins of the AHL where he added three goals and six points in 18 contests.

Cantin will turn 22-years-old next month.  After going pointless in 19 games with Providence this season, he was sent to Reading where he has one goal and six points in 16 contests.  At 6’1” and 192 pounds, the Omemee, Ontario, native has fairly good size.  

In the end, the Islanders were not big-time buyers or sellers.  They dealt two players who really had become spare parts with the big club for young players who, while not considered top prospects right now, may become useful to the organization in the future if they continue to develop.

The key to Snow’s decision in not making a major move will be his ability to re-sign Nabokov and Parenteau before July 1st.  There have been ongoing negotiations with both players.  If either of them leave as UFAs, the Islanders will be left with nothing.  However, if they stay on Long Island, they can both be integral parts of the team’s future as they seek to put together a bona fide playoff contender. 

As for this year, the Isles are not giving up on making the postseason but will not mortgage the future to try to make a desperate run at the eighth and final playoff spot.  The team still has obvious weaknesses.  They need some depth at forward to compliment the scoring of the Tavares line and still haven’t picked up that top-four defenseman Garth Snow was looking to add to the lineup since last summer.

That being said, the Isles have stayed at the periphery of the playoff race with the lineup they have now.  It will take an extended hot streak to get them into the postseason, but the Isles certainly sent a signal to their fans and the team that they aren’t giving up.