December 28, 2010

Wisniewski Shipped to Montreal

In a bit of a stunner, the Islanders shipped defenseman James Wisniewski off to the Montreal Canadiens today. The Islanders got back a compensatory 2nd round pick in 2011 that Montreal was getting for not signing their 2006 1st rounder and a conditional 5th rounder in 2012. The player who failed to sign was selected 20th overall, so the 2nd rounder will be the 50th overall selection.

The fan base seems to be very split on what has happened here. Not because of the return, because it is a very good one for a guy who has proved he is at best a #3 defenseman. Rather, they are upset because of the message that it is sending out about how salvageable they feel this season is.

If anyone out there truly thought that this team still had a legitimate shot at the playoffs, then I'm sorry. Quite simply it was not happening this season. That much was clear after the month long losing streak. I do not advocating throwing the towels in prior to the trade deadline, but the Islanders do not get this return if they wait. They maximized an asset that was gone in July, because I truly did not believe he was going to re-sign here.

I posted on our twitter account that this could have been part of a precursor to another move, but doubted that idea. Since then, many other media personalities have come out saying they feel the move is connected with the Devils placing forward Brian Rolston on re-entry waivers. The move would make sense as the Isles would be able to stay around the cap floor and also pick up a veteran forward for next season with Doug Weight out and his status for next season up in the air at this time. On re-entry waivers, Rolston would cost $2.5 million and can play all three forward positions.

I stick by my belief that this isn't any precursor but rather just status quo for what has been going on around here for the past few seasons. While this was not supposed to be a rebuilding year, it will continue at least through this season. As much as it pains people to say it, I think this was the first indication that the Isles are throwing in the towel for this season and will start giving time to younger players.

Wisniewski was never shy to say what was on his mind, and I appreciate the time he always took to speak with me when I would interview him after games or practices. Speaking to him at training camp, the guy was legitimately excited to be here. I had asked him about being paired with Mark Streit and he knew how awesome that would have been for the both of them.

When Streit went down for what will essentially amount to the entire season, I had an idea Wisniewski was doomed. I always liked his game, and was really excited when he was brought in for just a 3rd round pick. I knew what his weaknesses were though, and how they would be exposed when playing the most minutes on a defense. He was steadily improving lately, but the Islanders still haven't won enough games to justify holding onto a player for too long and getting a pretty crummy return in the process.

The Canadiens filled a much needed hole on their blueline. Defenseman Andrei Markov is out for a while, possibly the entire season. Marc-Andre Bergeron is still out there, but Montreal has been there and done that last season. The emergence of youngsters in P.K. Subban and Josh Gorges means that Wisniewski won't need to play 25 minutes a night as often as he was here.

Best of luck to James in another excellent situation for him in Montreal.


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