DALLAS - The Islanders improved on what already has been a wildly successful season with a pair of moves before Monday's trade deadline. They added veterans in goal and at forward to shore up a couple of areas of need heading into the final stretch of the season -- and they did it without giving up much.
Garth Snow sent a 2016 third-round pick and backup goaltender Chad Johnson to the Sabres for Michal Neuvirth, 26, who had been playing well for last-place Buffalo. Snow also dealt a conditional draft pick, most likely a 2015 seventh-rounder, to the Sharks for right wing Tyler Kennedy, a seasoned playoff veteran.
"We felt we could improve our depth and we acted on it," Snow said. "We think we're a better team today than we were yesterday."
Even with a 41-21-2 record, the Islanders had a need for better performance in goal. Snow signed Johnson to a two-year, $2.6-million contract July 1 to be Jaroslav Halak's backup, but he hadn't played well in his limited role. His .889 save percentage was among the lowest for goaltenders with at least 10 games.
Neuvirth, who was traded from the Capitals to the Sabres for Halak at last season's trade deadline, had a .918 save percentage for the lowly Sabres.
"Chad played some good games for us, but Neuvirth's performance lately has been excellent," Snow said. "Points are hard to come by in the Eastern Conference and this was an opportunity to upgrade there."Kennedy, 28, won a Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2009 and was a thorn in the Isles' side during his six years in Pittsburgh, scoring 11 goals against them. He was traded to San Jose before the 2013-14 season and never quite found a role there.
"He can bring that element of speed to our lineup," Snow said. "He plays the right side and we've had a little bit of concern there."
Kyle Okposo is the main concern on right wing. He skated Monday for the first time since his Jan. 20 eye surgery but still is a couple of weeks away. Casey Cizikas (lower body) also skated Monday, but Mikhail Grabovski (concussion) did not, and the Islanders want better depth than they currently have.
Kennedy and Neuvirth were expected to arrive in Dallas on Tuesday in time to dress for the game against the Stars. Kael Mouillierat will remain with the team but Kennedy likely will go into the lineup in his place.
Another key to Monday's deals was acquiring a pair of pending unrestricted free agents and removing Johnson's contract commitment for next season.
Snow said he had numerous conversations with other GMs during the past few weeks but wasn't sure anything would materialize before the deadline. None of his conversations involved players on the Islanders' roster.
"I thought our guys deserved an opportunity to build off what they started," Snow said. "There's a lot of good chemistry in our room."
The Islanders also made a couple of minor-league moves, trading Cory Conacher to the Canucks for AHL forward Dustin Jeffrey and sending Bridgeport goaltender David Leggio to the Coyotes for AHL defenseman Mark Louis.