***Matt Martin and Jesse Joensuu have been returned to Bridgeport. I suspect this is a "paper transaction" for AHL roster, salary and salary cap purposes with the Islanders not playing until Saturday. For now, this is not a story.***
10:30 am - Should Garth Snow decide to cash in his team's two biggest veteran trading chips, he won't be without options. Point Blank has learned that several teams are preparing offers to the Islanders for Andy Sutton and Dwayne Roloson.
Sutton, a potential unrestricted free agent on July 1, is one of the best defensemen available in the trade market. If the Islanders do not re-sign him between now and the March 3 trade deadline, the 6-6 defenseman could net a strong haul for the rebuilding franchise.
Many teams are interested in Sutton, including...
New Jersey Pittsburgh Philadelphia Ottawa
Washington Chicago Colorado Calgary
San Jose expressed interest before opting to trade a second round pick to Carolina for Niclas Wallin and a fifth round pick, but will stay in play for Sutton. The Capitals, Senators, Blackhawks and Penguins are among many teams that have been monitoring Sutton closely at the Coliseum and at Islanders road games.
If there is enough competition for the 34-year-old Sutton, Snow may be able to bring back a prospect and/or a high draft pick from a contender like Washington.
"If a team really wants a player, history shows they will pay the price," said one NHL director of pro scouting. "There's a lot of interest in Sutton as a big-time rental. For a team like Washington, Sutton could help them beat Pittsburgh and get to the Cup Final. For an impact defenseman, you make the deal and don't look back."
At the trade deadline in 2008, Pittsburgh acquired Hal Gill from Toronto for a second round pick and a fifth-rounder, and the large consensus in the scouting section of the Coliseum press box on Tuesday night was Sutton - playing the best hockey of his career - is more valuable today than Gill was then.
The Islanders have a decision to make on the 40-year-old Roloson, but some contending teams may make it an easy one. Although there appear to be more goaltenders available (the splendid Tim Thomas, the not-so-much Marty Turco) than teams in need, Roloson is arguably the best combination of ability, playoff game experience and value.
Roloson, at this date the player most responsible for the Islanders being on the cusp of the playoff picture, is signed for just one more season at a very manageable $2.5 million.
Among the teams considering deals for Roloson...
Philadelphia Ottawa Washington
Blackhawks scouts, including former NHL tough guy Dennis Bonvie, have been following Sutton and Roloson regularly. One NHL source reported that Chicago will make a pitch for Roloson, who led Edmonton to the Stanley Cup Final in 2006.
Of course, the Islanders could take the safer route and move Martin Biron for a third or fourth round pick. As good as Roloson has been, the Islanders have to decide how important a 40-year-old goalie is to a franchise still rebuilding to one day become a consistent contender.
A month ago, it would have been inconceivable to consider trading Roloson. Now the Islanders have lost eight of their last nine games (all in regulation) and - with Rick DiPietro back - Roloson is only getting 50% of the starts. Would the Islanders rather have a 41-year-old goalie playing, at best, 40 games next season? Or would they rather have a young asset or two?
Beyond Roloson and Sutton, the Islanders do not have any veteran Grade A or B assets. None.
As demonstrated in recent deals executed by GMs like Lou Lamoriello, Brian Burke and Darryl Sutter, many teams want their acquisitions settled in during the two-week Olympic break. With so much interest in Sutton and Roloson, do not rule out an Islanders trade before the roster freeze at 3:00 pm EST on Friday.