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SportsColumnistsArthur Staple

Rangers and Islanders didn't damage future at trade deadline

Rangers general manager Glen Sather at the 2009

Rangers general manager Glen Sather at the 2009 NHL Draft. Photo Credit: Getty Images

In standing pat at the trade deadline for the first time since Glen Sather took over the Rangers a decade ago, that team earns an A for effort - in not doing too much.

The Islanders wanted to get in the deadline-day mix, but Garth Snow couldn't get an offer he liked. We'll call that a B/B-.

Both New York teams did what they set out to do leading up to Wednesday's trade deadline: They held onto their draft picks and their young players. They made no sacrifices for a shot at a low playoff seed that could have damaged the future of their teams.

Those are all pluses, even if the fans like to see some get-up-and-go on the frenzied deadline day. The Rangers have rarely failed to disappoint in that regard. Sather, and Neil Smith before him, always had a swap or two or three to juggle the roster before the stretch run.

But those deals almost never stopped the disappointment on the ice. Sather's track record at the trade deadline since the salary cap went into effect is pretty good, actually. Renting Derek Morris and Nik Antropov helped them get to the playoffs last season, even though Petr Prucha is doing the same for the Coyotes. Before that, acquiring useful checking winger Fredrik Sjostrom at the 2008 deadline was a good pickup, too.

The last bad one, really, was defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh for a third-rounder at the deadline in 2006.

So Sather is learning that less is more at this time of year. He's tried for some big fish - Tomas Kaberle a few years ago from the Leafs, but the defenseman wouldn't waive his no-trade clause. But, ultimately, Sather's inability to make deadline deals has left the Rangers with the core group of young players it has now.

The Islanders are trying to build their core and Snow would gladly have dealt Sean Bergenheim, Richard Park and either Dwayne Roloson or Martin Biron had the price been right. A source told Newsday that the best offer for Park was a fifth-round draft pick, the best offer for Roloson was a fourth-rounder and the best offer for Biron was . . . well, there really were no offers for Biron.

Snow may have overplayed his hand with the goalies. As Newsday reported on Friday, a few anonymous Islanders are grumbling about the goaltending situation, with both Roloson and Biron still here and the hope that Rick DiPietro will play again this season. Snow had a couple low-ball offers for Biron in the last few months, but opted to wait.

Too bad for him that the playoff teams in need of a veteran goaltender - the Flyers, Blackhawks, Kings and Senators - stood pat as well.

The only thing this will cost the Islanders, though, is the remainder of Biron's $1.4-million salary. He'll be elsewhere next season. Roloson may want to be, given that no one can ever be assured of the No. 1 spot with DiPietro and the decade left on his deal always around.

The Islanders are still on the long, winding path to legitimacy. The Rangers are, too, though they are further along. And neither did any damage this week.


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