March 5, 2014

Isles beat Jets after Sending MacDonald to Flyers

The Isles had one more game to play before the trade deadline, but they were already in the mindset of it being life after March 5th, with Andrew MacDonald (traded) and Thomas Vanek (waiting to be traded) both out of the line-up.

With a lean roster, the Isles had a chance to see what they had in guys who haven't had extended looks with the big club as of yet. It resulted in a 3-2 overtime victory in Winnipeg.

The Isles had some solid contributions from Ryan Strome and Anders Lee. Lee scored his third goal since being called up after the Olympic break ended last week.

Anders Nilsson got the start, to the chagrin of many fans out there who were left scratching their heads as to why he's get the nod after a less that stellar effort in the 3rd period of Sunday's tilt vs. Florida. For me, it's easy to understand.

The NHL is going through a musical goalie campaign, evidenced by Tuesday's trades. The Islanders are at a crossroads in net. They know what Evgeni Nabokov can provide and it's still back-up worthy for the NHL. But what about Kevin Poulin or Nilsson? We've seen a good sample out of Poulin to realize he isn't much of an answer. So that leaves Nilsson.

The Isles won't have much room for error going forward with their goalies. With so many names of younger guys flying around, they need to understand what they have in these two sooner rather than later. If you sign a starter, do you need to sign guys for Bridgeport? The Isles could add anywhere from one to three new goaltenders to the organization this summer and now is the time for them to decide.

Having said all of that, I thought Nilsson played pretty well. Some of the angles are a bit off, but you can see that he has his moments - both good and bad.

Despite looking strong early on, the Isles allowed the Jets to slowly get back into the game as they allowed plenty of scoring chances. Lots of scrambling in front of Nilsson only yielded two goals, however, and gave the Isles the chance to win on Michael Grabner's overtime breakaway.

Grabner has been playing better of late too, at least on the offensive end. All season long he seemed to have the defensive side of his game up to snuff and now it's nice to see the confidence increasing with each goal scored - including the ones from the Olympics.

But enough about this game. We'll get to the more important stuff...

A-Mac's Isles tenure ended on Tuesday. Photo by C. Hessel
Andrew MacDonald to Flyers: Yes, as alluded to earlier the Isles already moved one of their trading chips, shipping MacDonald to the Philadelphia Flyers for a 3rd round pick this summer, a 2nd round pick in 2015, and forward Matt Mangene - who isn't much of a prospect, and never really was.

I like the fact that the 2nd round pick is in the 2015 draft, which by all accounts will be very deep and full of talented players in the first few rounds. The 2015 picks will have value and the Isles can package them to try and get more immediate help for next season, that is if they choose to do so.

It's frustrating to be going through yet another year of this however, and I'll go out on the limb and say I'll be upset if some of these assets are not used to make the team better in the more near term. With holes throughout, and now a glaring one next to John Tavares, this team seriously needs to figure out what their plan is going forward because having disappointing seasons and accumulating picks year after year isn't much of a plan.

So the Isles have one more player to move in Vanek. Everyone else will likely stay for now. I wouldn't expect the goaltending holes to be plugged on Wednesday either. That will be something the team addresses more in the offseason when they can see their options.

We'll see what Wednesday provides. I'll have some thoughts on the deadline as a whole after we hit 3 PM and see the dust settle.

- Chris