The Islanders made the first trade of 2011 by sending goalie Dwayne Roloson to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for defenseman prospect Ty Wishart.
We'll look at this deal first from a talent perspective.
In the end, the Islanders got good value for the 41 year old Roloson who is at this point a rental for the Lightning. Wishart is a 22 year old defenseman who still has some growing to do but was having a promising season so far for the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL.
The 6'4", 215 lb Wishart is about to enter that age where big defensemen with some offensive talent begin to show their true stuff. Wishart had a good first pro season before trying to do too much offensively and letting his defensive game suffer. This season he seemed to be getting back to the things that made him the 16th overall pick in 2006 by the San Jose Sharks.
Wishart is a guy I have been hot and cold on the last few seasons, but generally have liked. He's one of those guys who seemed to be in trade talks for the past few seasons, and one of those guys you wouldn't mind picking up. He was in Tampa Bay as part of the trade that sent Dan Boyle to San Jose. Many felt at the time that the best player going to Tampa in that deal was Matt Carle, but many analysts felt that Wishart had the potential to be the better defenseman because of how young he was and the style of game he plays.
The Islanders immediately assigned Wishart to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. It is unclear when he will come up. Currently on their long road trip, the Islanders have Dylan Reese up and have placed Radek Martinek on the IR for now. Perhaps we see Wishart when we come back from that trip. Wishart has only played five NHL games to date so far.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay did what they really needed to do which was improve the goaltending. It was no secret that that was the one are they were looking to upgrade along with their division rivals, the Washington Capitals. Washington has been scouting the Islanders frequently in the past few weeks, presumable looking at Roloson.
The return for Roloson isn't the head scratcher here, but at a quick glance the timing does seem off. The Islanders are in the midst of a stretch where they have won six of their last eight games, most of that due to the play of Roloson and him getting NHL player of the week honors last week. In his final game as an Isle against one of the West's best teams in Detroit, Roloson stood tall again and made 38 saves in an OT win.
Some are upset because of how good Roloson is and the team has been playing. That's what people mean when they say the timing is off. It is not good to show signs that you are giving up 36 games into an 82 game schedule, but that is the message the Islanders appear to be giving, not two weeks after Garth Snow and Charles Wang went on Gary Bettman's radio show and stated otherwise.
Now, we don't know for sure - perhaps Wishart is a guy Snow targeted for a while, and perhaps this offer topped something Washington was offering for him. To get a real live NHL player back over picks for a 41 year old goalie is something to be happy about.
Perhaps it is slightly unfair of people to think that these deals are all about the money, but it certainly appears that way. It's the only explanation people can come up with for these moves, and no, there is not going to be a blockbuster trade coming at this time for those of you going nuts over Twitter rumors.
At any rate, I'm excited to see what Wishart can bring. I'm hoping he can continue to show us some of what he has been doing this year, which would really be great for us.
On the other end, I'm having a very hard time finding Isles fans who don't want Tampa to go deep or all the way in the playoffs this season. That's how well liked Roli was here on the Island. Good luck in Tampa, Dwayne.
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