A Meaningful Deadline: March 4 and The New York Islanders

Justin MarqCorrespondent IFebruary 27, 2009

As the Islanders woeful season continues to wind down, Islander fans still find themselves finding something to be interested in. First, and foremost, is the stellar play of Kyle Okposo.


Although he had a rough start to the season, Okposo has truly come on in a big way over the past few months, and it is evident that he is going to develop into a phenomenal player in this league sooner rather than later.


For the first time in quite some time, Islander fans can look at a player knowing that he might do something incredible every shift.


Secondly, and the focus of this article, is the March 4 trade deadline. Long before the season even began; all Islander fans knew that it was going to be a rough year.


Keeping that in mind, all Islander fans also understood that the trade deadline would be another important step in our rebuild for the future. Let us take a look now at what the trade deadline can hold in store for the New York Islanders.


Untouchables: Before I even begin to assess a few of the better moves we could make, one item must be established. There is a list of untouchables on the Islanders roster, albeit a short list, one still exists.


In my personal opinion, the following players are considered untouchable: Josh Bailey, Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, Rick DiPietro, Mark Streit, Blake Comeau, Sean Bergenheim, Trent Hunter, and Jack Hillen. Although you may argue, I truly do believe that when March 4 passes, these nine players will all still be a part of the Islanders organization.


Now, onto the fun part!


First, and foremost, we must address Brendan Witt. Recently signed to an extension that will keep him here for two more seasons past this current one, Brendan Witt is a well-respected, hard-nosed defenseman in the National Hockey League.


At what I consider a very affordable $3 million per year, Brendan Witt would be a great addition to any playoff team looking for some grit, leadership, and solid play.


Although his numbers are below his average this year, that can easily be attributed to playing for the Islanders. For a trade of Witt to make any sense for the New York Islanders, in my opinion, they must receive a first round pick.


While many believe he will only be worth a second-round pick and a potentially good prospect, I feel that there is not enough incentive there to make the trade. Unless a first round pick is mentioned in the deal, I feel Witt will remain an Islander. (Keep in mind, the recent Campoli trade was basically Campoli for a first round pick).


Our second biggest trading chip this year would have been veteran Doug Weight. As a very talented center, Doug Weight was having a renaissance season after his dismal performance last year between St. Louis and Anaheim.


He is a very gifted player, however, he seems to have run into some injury troubles over the past two months. In November and December, Weight seemed like the player who was going to bring us back a tremendous return, however, now we might not see anything for him.


If a team is to beckon upon us with a second round pick and a good prospect, I am sure Snow will listen, considering the injury worries with Weight.


However, as I discussed in a previously written blog, the leadership and loyalty brought to a locker room by Weight is invaluable, and I would almost rather see him around one more year to mentor the youngsters. My opinion: keep him, unless an offer blows us away!


Lastly, and the player I feel will be most difficult to move, is Bill Guerin. A goal-scoring right wing who can easily help be a tremendous leader during the playoffs, Guerin provides instant credibility not only to a second or third-line, but also to a second-unit power play, if not a first.


He can still skate, shoot, and play the power-forward game he has been known for his entire career. However, at age 38, and with a no-trade clause,  many general managers will question if he can make the push throughout the full duration of the playoffs, or if they can convince him to waive it to come to their team.


Again, as with Weight, my personal opinion is swayed by the fact that he brings a tremendous amount of respect, pride, and loyalty to the locker room, and he would be a great mentor for the youngsters of the future.


If Snow can find a reasonable way to resign him, that would be great. However, in the case of Bill Guerin, I feel a second round pick and a good prospect would be enough to take him from my grips.


Garth Snow is truly going to have his work cut out for him in the coming days before the trade deadline. Besides the three players discussed above, names such as Richard Park, Andy Hilbert, Radek Martinek, Andy Sutton, and Dean McAmmond will all be mentioned by opposing general managers.


With only the future to look forward to, I am sure Garth Snow will be weighing the long term benefits of any trade much heavier than the short term benefits.


Unless the player coming back in a trade is a young prospect or a young player in general, I doubt Garth Snow gets anything but picks.


With five picks already in the first two rounds of this year’s loaded draft, and the potential to add more, the Islanders and their scouting staff are looking at an even busier situation post-trade deadline day as they look forward to the NHL Entry Draft.