Islanders general manager Garth Snow, who traded goaltender Dwayne Roloson to Tampa Bay Saturday in exchange for defensive prospect Ty Wishart, said he pulled the trigger because he felt satisfied the value of return was the best he could get.
“To me, that was the best offer we would have gotten for him and I believe it was the best deal even if we had waited,” Snow told Newsday Sunday.
Although the move is hardly surprising given the Islanders’ spot in the standings—14th in the Eastern Conference—and the fact that Roloson was on 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 of eight wins, including their last two to knock off the top two teams in each conference, Pittsburgh and Detroit.
And although the 4-3 shootout win over the Penguins Wednesday came courtesy of Rick DiPietro’s inspired 38-save performance, DiPietro only recently came off injured reserve for a surgically-repaired left knee.
Roloson, a veteran leader in the room and a steadying presence on the ice, was the second big trade by the Islanders this week. They also moved key defenseman James Wisniewski, shipping him to Montreal Tuesday in exchange for a compensatory second-round pick in 2011 and a fifth-round pick in 2012.
When asked if this was an indication that the Islanders had given up on the rest of this season—the team is 17 points out of the 8th spot in the East—Snow bristled.
“That’s not true at all,” Snow 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 that wasn’t the message received in the room, either.
“I don’t think there is any concern about that,” Macdonald 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.
The 27-year-old Lawson, who made his NHL debut a few weeks ago, joined the team in Calgary Sunday and will presumably serve as DiPietro’s backup for the remainder of the season.
Wishart, 22, reported to the Islanders’ minor league affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The 6-4, 222-pound defenseman, a former first-round pick by San Jose in 2006, has 18 points (4 goals, 14 assists) in 31 games for the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals this season.
Snow described Wishart as a “big body, still young, developing defenseman with upside.”
Roloson, 41, told Newsday Saturday he was “elated” about the chance to make a playoff appearance with Tampa Bay this post-season.
"For me personally, it would 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."