CALGARY, Canada - Islanders general manager Garth Snow, who traded goaltender Dwayne Roloson to Tampa Bay on Saturday for defense prospect Ty Wishart, said he pulled the trigger because he felt the value of return was the best he could get.
"To me, that was the best offer we would have gotten for him,'' Snow said yesterday, "and I believe it was the best deal even if we had waited."
Although the move hardly is surprising, given the Islanders' spot in the standings - 14th in the Eastern Conference - and the fact that Roloson, 41, is in the last year of a two-year deal, the timing was a bit surprising.
Led by some impressive goaltending performances, the Islanders have rattled off six wins in their last eight games, beating the top team in each conference, Pittsburgh and Detroit, in the last two games.
And although the 4-3 shootout win over the Penguins came courtesy of Rick DiPietro's 38-save performance, DiPietro - who had been on injured reserve after his left knee swelled - only recently was activated.
Roloson, a leader in the locker room and a steadying presence on the ice, was the second veteran traded by the Islanders this past week. They also shipped defenseman James Wisniewski to Montreal on Tuesday for a second-round pick in 2011 and a fifth-round pick in 2012.
When asked if this is an indication that the Islanders have given up on the rest of this season - they are 17 points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East - Snow bristled.
"That's not true at all," he said. "With the Wisniewski trade, we had a situation where [Andrew] MacDonald and [Milan] Jurcina both came off injured reserve; [Travis] Hamonic has played at an extremely high level. With the combination of those three factors, it made me feel more comfortable making that trade.
"As for the Roloson trade . . . I think [Nathan] Lawson will surprise people with how well he'll play. It's also an opportunity for [Kevin] Poulin and [Mikko] Koskinen to develop in an environment where there isn't three goalies."
Alternate captain MacDonald said giving up on the season wasn't the message received in the locker room, either. "I don't think there is any concern about that," he said. "We're making moves for the benefit of the team, and it's business as usual for us. We're just trying to win games."
Lawson, 27, who made 32 saves in his NHL debut Dec. 18 in a 4-3 shootout loss to Phoenix, joined the Islanders Sunday. The 6-4, 222-pound Wishart, 22, reported to Bridgeport.
A former first-round pick by San Jose in 2006, Wishart had four goals and 14 assists in 31 games for the AHL's Norfolk Admirals. Snow described him as a "big body, still young, developing defenseman with upside."
Roloson is "elated" about the chance to reach the postseason, saying: "It would be great to play in the playoffs. Everyone always writes how old I am, but no matter what age you are, it means a lot to play in the playoffs. You have a chance to do something you've always dreamed of: to win the Stanley Cup."