It has been a very busy week for the Isles, basically stealing the show on trade deadline day at the eleventh hour. But did the Islanders do the right thing by giving up Nilsson, O'Marra, and a 1st round pick this summer for a guy that may only be here for a couple of months? My answer is heck yeah. First off, while the kids may hold significant promise, they were both mid round picks in the first round. Historically, those picks rarely turn out to be stars. Some have had good careers, and many have had short, insignificant careers. And this year's draft is not deep, especially for the mid round pick the Isles would have gotten. So the upside here is numerous.
Ryan Smyth instantly makes the Isles all but guaranteed to make the playoffs. And with the addition of speedy, offense minded Marc Andre Bergeron on D, and quick Richard Zednik, this team may actually go to the third round. This may seem optimistic and getting ahead of myself, but I truly believe that the Isles can do some damage.
In addition, Smyth has brought more positive media attention to the Islanders than they have had in the past decade.Usually, the Canadian press only covers the team when they are bashing it, such as the Neil Smith fiasco. And what kind of signal does this acquisition send to free agents this summer? It sends the message that the Isles are serious about building a winning team. And with Ted Nolan at the helm, many star players may be interested in coming to LI.
Well, I am glad that Jason Blake stayed an Islander for now. I hear a lot of fans saying that he is selfish on the ice and is only in it for the money. All I can say to that is who knows where this team would be right now without Jason Blake's performance this season. Is part of his success due to playing with Yashin? Sure, but he has played with many mediocre Islanders over the past few years and has posted good numbers every season. Personally, I say lock the guy up for 5 more years. I think the Islanders are going to give Smyth first shot at signing. If he does so, they will let Blake go. I hope they figure out a way to keep them both. And, I would seriously consider buying out Yashin. This is the team's final opportunity to do so. The Isles have been playing their best hockey without him. If the Isles lock up Blake and Smyth, I would set Yashin adrift.
One final word. Just because we have Bergeron and Smyth now, doesn't mean that we are the Penguins. I think the blown leads during the past few weeks makes it clear that the Isles need to play a controlled, opportunistic brand of hockey that is defensive minded first, and offensive minded second. Playing run and gun just unravels the focus of the defense and we all saw what happened the other night against St. Louis and last week against Philly.
Anyway, it is going to be an exciting stretch drive. I predict the Isles will finish 7th and make the playoffs. Stay tuned!!