UPDATED 7:20 pm - Bill Guerin took warmup, but now is not on the ice. Islanders playing with just 17 skaters. Stay tuned.
7:10 pm - League sources told Point Blank on Saturday that interest in available Islanders veterans continues to increase. The trade talk has now intensified to the level that one source described the likelihood of the Islanders making at least one significant trade before Wednesday’s deadline as “more than 90%.”
As tonight’s game against Buffalo began, the Islanders were said to be contemplating several packages for their sought-after veterans.
The veterans atop the wish lists are captain Bill Guerin, defensemen Brendan Witt and Radek Martinek, and injured center Doug Weight. While – we repeat – the Islanders may not bring back the level of return from their trade of Chris Campoli to Ottawa for a late first round draft pick – there is major momentum toward the completion of another transaction or two for Team Rebuild.
When even a franchise like St. Louis – currently on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture – declares itself a “buyer” at the deadline, it paints a definitive picture of why the Islanders offices have become a popular spot to make trade offers. There simply are not many “sellers” for the scavengers to hunt for meat. Besides the Islanders, the only clear-cut sellers are Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Ottawa, “descending rapidly” Toronto, Colorado and Phoenix.
The Coyotes may not host a veterans garage sale, but they are well aware of the haul that could come with the trading of ace center Olli Jokinen. The Florida Panthers are not sellers in the traditional mode, but they are very open to trading Jay Bouwmeester because they will lose the all-star defenseman on July 1 for nothing.
The Islanders have plenty to sell. Besides Guerin, Witt, Weight and Martinek, other Islanders in play include potential UFAs Andy Hilbert and Dean McAmmond, simmering goal scorer veteran grinder Jon Sim and goaltenders Yann Danis and Joey MacDonald.
If the Islanders were blown away by offers by popular heart-and-soul forwards Trent Hunter and Richard Park, they would be forced to listen.
But attracting the most interest, of course, is the Islanders’ trio of experienced and accomplished leaders. Deals for Guerin and Witt could help the Islanders obtain additional early-round draft picks. The knee injury to Doug Weight has not derailed requests for the services of the playmaking center. A deal involving a conditional third or fourth round pick that escalates with each playoff series victory remains a strong possibility.
The NHL trade deadline is Wednesday, March 4.
POINT BLANK TRADE PRIMER
Saturday, February 28
The key Islanders most likely to be dealt, in order of likelihood:
1. Bill Guerin
2. Radek Martinek
3. Andy Hilbert
4. Brendan Witt
5. Doug Weight