If you spent the day away from your phone or computer, you didn’t miss much during this year’s trade deadline day as far as the Islanders are concerned.
In what has become a yearly ritual, general manager Garth Snow kept things low key while several metropolitan teams bolstered their lineups in preparation for a final run at a playoff spot. The New Jersey Devils added forward Patrick Maroon in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers that came just under the wire and the Columbus Blue Jackets, which are two points in front of the Islanders in the standings and occupy the final wild card spot, added forward Thomas Vanek and defenseman Ian Cole.
Even the rebuilding New York Ranger made a splash dealing away captain Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller to the Tampa Lightning for a mix of draft picks, prospects and a roster player.
The Islanders, on the other hand, swapped fourth line wingers with the Anaheim Ducks in a deal that came down a little after 2 p.m. The Islanders acquired 26-year-old Chris Wagner in exchange for Jason Chimera, who had been scratched the last five games and had only two goals this season.
The addition of Wagner is a small improvement over the aging Chimera. Despite having a relatively successful year in 2016-17, Chimera never seemed to find a way to duplicate that success this season.
Wagner, who has 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 64 NHL games this season, brings a more physical presence to the Islanders’ bottom-six and he can kill penalties. Wagner also can play the wing as well as center and, like Chimera, will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year.
The trade was a decent depth move for the Islanders and the fans are likely happy about the departure of Chimera, but it was far from the deadline move that the team needed to make to shore up their roster deficiencies.
The Islanders defense has struggled all season and the situation has only gotten worse as the injuries have mounted over the course of the last few months. It has taken four months for the team’s goaltending to finally look like it was getting itself together — their 3.54 goals against per game is still a league-worst — and the Islanders find themselves battling (again) for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Alone, the Islanders inaction at the deadline would be frustrating considering the offensive talent the Islanders have this year, but that’s compounded by the fact that John Tavares has not signed a contract extension this late into the season. If there was any time to make a splash at the deadline, now would have been the time.
We will never know what moves Snow tried to make ahead of the 3 p.m. deadline, but at the end of the day, the Islanders did little more than add a pair of depth players heading into the final stretch of the season.
Perhaps, in the end, Wagner helps the Islanders bottom-six and Brandon Davidson, the defenseman they acquired from the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, will help improve the blue line. Maybe after all of this — playoffs or not — John Tavares even re-signs with the Islanders.
The captain and franchise star has said all the right things all season, and did so again on Monday when he told Newsday that he hadn’t ruled-out re-signing before the season ended.
Still, for a franchise that has one playoff series win since 1993, and one series win in the 12 years Snow has served as GM, it’s hard to fully understand why a risk wasn’t taken. Quiet trade deadlines have become a staple around these parts for a better part of a decade.
So, fan frustration over another deadline come and gone with little excitement has also become commonplace.