The New York Islanders trading away defenseman James Wisniewski Tuesday to the Montreal Canadiens signals management's acceptance their playoff hopes for this season are dashed and it's time once again to start moving out veteran assets for draft picks.
Of late, there's been considerable talk they’ll peddle goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who's been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise abysmal season for the Isles.
Despite his age (41) and 5-13-1 record in 19 games, Roloson has been terrific between the pipes, sporting a respectable 2.63 goals-against average and .915 save percentage - and in those games his SP only dipped below .910 once, when he gave up five goals on 26 shots in a Dec. 13 loss to Nashville.
With Rick DiPietro now on injured reserve, Roloson's workload will increase. If he continues to shine, Roloson will, as ESPN.com's Scott Burnside recently suggested, attract suitors seeking an affordable goaltending upgrade.
The Islanders’ season may appear to be a lost cause, but don't expect them to just give Roloson away. While they moved Wisniewski out soon after the lifting of the Christmas trade freeze, they may retain Roloson for a few more weeks hoping to drive up his market value.
LEAFS LOOKING TO HELP RON WILSON WITH A TRADE
Amongst the few teams believed to be actively shopping for help prior to the trade freeze were the Toronto Maple Leafs, but GM Brian Burke did nothing to bolster his club's sagging fortunes immediately following the freeze and, according to the Toronto Sun, he didn't anticipate jumping into the trade market at that time.
Earlier in the week, the Toronto Star cited unnamed team sources claiming Burke “owes” coach Ron Wilson a trade to help him shake up the struggling roster and attempt to rescue its playoff chances.
Whether or not Burke feels an obligation toward helping Wilson, the problem remains a lack of clubs willing to part with the type of players he needs, specifically a big scoring forward. While Burke continues to hint changes are coming, it could take weeks and by then it might be too late to turn the Leafs into a playoff contender.
It's possible Burke will swing another blockbuster mid-season deal akin to those last season that brought Dion Phaneuf and J-S Giguere to Toronto, but those deals occurred on Jan. 31 and failed to save Toronto's season. It's unlikely he'll have better results this time.
LANGENBRUNNER THE NEXT DEVIL TO GO?
New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello is still trying to shake up his moribund roster, demoting veteran left winger Brian Rolston to the Devils’ farm team in Albany with the intent of placing him on re-entry waivers, less than a week after firing John MacLean as coach.
Meanwhile, the trade rumor mill continues to churn, with the Ottawa Sun reporting Sunday the Senators and Canadiens have interest in Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner, while the New York Post suggested the Detroit Red Wings, San Jose Sharks and Dallas Stars could lead the pursuit for Langenbrunner's services.
By mid-season, half of Langenbrunner's $2.8 million salary for this season will have been paid out by the Devils, making him a more attractive target for clubs seeking an experienced playoff leader.
Langenbrunner netted 61 points last season, but he's now 35 and on pace for his lowest point production with more than 70 games played since 2001-02.
His age and physical style may be catching up with him and at this point he’s no longer suited for first- or second-line duty. Interested teams will be buying more into his reputation rather than what he's capable of now.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.