In dealing Ryan Smyth and sliding the rest of the 2006-07 season into hockey hell – including the overshadowing of their Mark Messier Night – the Oilers received the following package from the Islanders:
- A first round pick in 2007 (15th overall) which Edmonton reached with to take stay-at-home defenseman Alex Plante, who projects as a No. 5 defenseman at best.
- Former Islanders prospect (and recent first-rounder) Ryan O’Marra, who played half of last season in the East Coast Hockey League and this year is a stunning 0-3-3 in 23 games with Springfield (AHL).
- Robert Nilsson, who after cashing in with a three-year, $5-5 million contract, has reverted to the player-on-the-periphery Pierre Maguire and others had him pegged. Last night he was benched by coach Craig MacTavish for “non-competition – he had no competition. I’ve had enough of that and seen enough.”
Of course, the Islanders wish they had that first round draft pick back. Maybe they would have taken Colton Gillies (who went 16th) or Angelo Esposito (20). But that was the price they had to pay to get Ryan Smyth and try to make a run. (Remember Brian Burke complaining that he would have given up more to Edmonton?)
Garth Snow was called the “GM of the Year” by Sports Illustrated for the trade and he says he doesn’t regret the move and never will. I can understand that.
But it’s a good thing the Oilers didn’t burn him. In addition to craving the credibility of Smyth and Ted Nolan having zero use for Nilsson, maybe Snow knew which draft picks from the old regime to move before it was too late.
And yes, the new Islanders scouting staff is going to have to do a lot better than taking Robert Nilsson (2003) and Ryan O’Marra (2005) in the first round.