Arthur Staple Arthur Staple

Staple, with Newsday since 1997, has covered high school sports, hockey and football.

The Islanders are just about in the same position as teams that have started to sell off some future unrestricted free agents. The Canadiens dealt Hal Gill to Nashville this past week and the Lightning sent Dominic Moore to San Jose.

The Islanders have a few upcoming UFAs who either have drawn interest or could in the final eight days before the trade deadline, most notably goaltender Evgeni Nabokov and right wing P.A. Parenteau.

Defensemen are at a premium all over the league, so Steve Staios and Mark Eaton also could garner interest.

But for now, with three games in four nights against teams around them in the East, the Islanders are holding firm and trying to stay in the playoff chase.

"Those teams can view the deadline however they choose. My sole focus is coming to the rink and helping the Islanders make the playoffs," Staios said. "I'm not looking anywhere but here."

Staios, who turns 39 this summer, and Eaton, who turns 35 in May, said they haven't given much thought to next season, but neither indicated a readiness to retire. It's very possible that one of them could be back with the Isles next season as a depth defenseman, considering the thin free-agent market.

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An Islander who could garner some fringe interest this week is Marty Reasoner, who has one year at $1.35 million remaining on his deal beyond this season. Reasoner had no goals in 37 games entering yesterday's action, but he's the sort of depth checking center/faceoff winner that a contending team might be willing to add down the stretch.

Ness impresses

The coaching staff likes what it has seen from rookie Aaron Ness, who was a plus-2 through his first six games entering Saturday night. The ugly injury to Travis Hamonic opened the door for Ness, who had been having a solid first pro season in Bridgeport when he got the call-up on Super Bowl Sunday.

In a similar vein, Hamonic came up Nov. 22, 2010, when Mike Mottau was sidelined after taking a puck to the face. Hamonic proved to be just what the Isles were looking for: a steadying force on defense and a self-assured young man who played and carried himself back then as older than his 20 years.

Ness, 21, isn't as physical as Hamonic, but Ness has been active and has given the Isles a quick-footed playmaker who hasn't looked too nervous. Like Hamonic, who played 113 consecutive games before being hit by a puck and suffering a broken nose, Ness will be hard to pull out of the lineup when the regular defensemen -- most notably Hamonic -- return to health.

The Isles host the Senators in a Presidents' Day matinee Monday, then go directly to Buffalo for a game on Tuesday. Their final two games before the trade deadline are against the Rangers at home on Friday, then in Ottawa on Sunday.

Under Garth Snow, the Islanders have made only one deadline splash, trading for Ryan Smyth at the 2007 deadline. Since then, the Isles have made only five deals during the week of the deadline in the last four seasons:

2011 none

2010 Andy Sutton to Ottawa for a second-round pick

2009 Bill Guerin to Pittsburgh for a conditional pick; Mike Comrie/Chris Campoli to Ottawa for a first-round pick and Dean McAmmond

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2008 Chris Simon to Minnesota for a sixth-round pick; Marc-Andre

Bergeron to Anaheim for a third-round pick