I've gotten countless emails from readers asking about whether the Islanders are serious about acquiring a defenseman at or before the deadline to shore up an injury-depleted blue line.

One name repeatedly  thrown into the mix is Flames d-man Dion Phaneuf.

Yes,  the Islanders expressed interest in him, but were not serious contenders

Remember that GM Garth Snow has said several times throughout the season that he will not break up his young core of players, so assume that discussions could not move past the preliminary stages for this reason.

Speculation indicates Phaneuf will be involved in a multi-player, multi-team trade soon. UPDATE: Yup, Phaneuf to Maple Leafs.

Snow will likely inquire about certain attractive defenseman near the deadline, just the same as every other GM will do, but if he does not find the right fit and price, he is encouraged by the development of the Islanders young defensemen.

Andrew MacDonald has impressed everyone and people within the organization hope that Dustin Kohn will take on a similar trajectory.

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Speaking of defensemen, Jack Hillen might begin skating as early as next week. Although the shot Hillen took was pretty gruesome, he's doing better than expected. One good thing? He didn't have to get his jaw wired shut, so he should be able to eat and maintain his strength until he returns.

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David Booth, who suffered a concussion more than three months ago, is expected to return for the Panthers today for the first time against the Islanders.