Islanders Acquire Brian Rolston From Devils

Brian Rolston (Hazboy/Flickr)The New York Islanders completed a trade today with the New Jersey Devils, acquiring 38-year old veteran, Brian Rolston in exchange for 31-year old Trent Hunter, an Islanders forward for all of his nine year career in the NHL.

According to TSN, the Islanders have also received a conditional draft pick in 2012 along with Rolston. (EDIT: Scratch that, the pick was taken out of the deal, making it an even swap of Rolston for Hunter)

This trade seems to work well for both teams. The Devils were looking to shed some salary as they are trying to sign RFA forward, Zach Parise before his arbitration hearing. The Islanders, on the other hand, are below the cap floor and are trying to find ways to reach it without offering money to UFA's that didn't deserve it. Rolston is on the final year of his contract and is set to make about $5 million for next season. Hunter was only slated for $2 million.

Although Garth Snow told Katie Strang of Newsday that salary was "secondary and it didn't even come into [his] thought process," the trade helps bring his club a little closer. The team is also currently negotiating with Blake Comeau for a new contract before his arbitration hearing as well. If the Islanders manage to get Bailey and Comeau both under contract to go along with Rolston's salary, Snow's job will become that much easier. And here's to hoping that Snow's not done just yet and is still looking for a top-4 defenseman to add to the mix.

Trent Hunter (joelloue/Flickr)Hunter only played 17 games last year and posted one goal and three assists in that time before being shut down with a torn MCL. Rolston didn't have that great of a start and was seen on waivers before being re-called back into the NHL. He did, however, play an important role in the Devils run to the playoffs that had 6th, 7th and 8th seeds biting their finger nails for a while.

Hunter also is not that strong of a skater and has been having a hard time keeping healthy in recent years. Besides last season, he only appeared in 65 and 55 games in the past two years respectively with his offensive numbers dwindling. As long as Rolston stays healthy, (and he played in 65, 80 and 64 games respectively over the past three seasons) he should provide a veteran presence on at least the second or third line and play the point on the power play. Everyone knows that Rolston has a booming slap shot and it should comply well with Mark Streit's hammer on the other end of the blue line.

All in all, the Islanders added a veteran leader to a locker room that really hasn't had one over the past few years with players like Streit, Weight, Eaton, Hunter and Mottau being injured so often. And at the same time, they brought themselves closer to the cap floor.

Solid trade.

It also, um...might make signing a certain someone that once was bought out less of a priority. But that's just a thought and all I will say on the matter for now.

So far Snow has upgraded from Konopka and Hunter with Reasoner and Rolston without making the team softer by keeping Haley, Martin and Gillies around.

But is this team a playoff team? Hard to say, even though Kyle Okposo and Streit should be healthy to start the season. That top four defenseman would be a real bonus.


In other news, the Islanders hosted their Blue Oyster Cult rally yesterday at the Coliseum and have had more commercials on the air for a positive turnout at the August 1st referendum. More and more posters can be seen off parkways and major roads and it's something that almost everyone is talking about. Support has been seen from multiple sources, including the New York Rangers. Not only has Jim Dolan, the owner of the Rangers, Newsday and Cablevision, voiced his support, but today the New York Rangers organization did so directly in a statement made by Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather:

(per the New York Islanders Vote Yes web-site)

"The rivalry that has existed between the Rangers and Islanders for almost 40 years is one of the best in hockey and in all of sports. The intense passion and emotion involved in these games is something we cherish and would like to see continue for generations to come. We urge Rangers fans, Islanders fans and all hockey fans in Nassau County to vote yes for the referendum on Monday, August 1".  

Everyone seems to know what is at stake here. It could be one of the very few times where you see Rangers fans and Islanders fans in favor of the same thing: an Islanders victory.

Over the weekend I am going to post a blog that explains why I'll be voting yes that goes beyond the obvious reasons. I hope you check back to read it.

***UPDATE: 6:19 PM Friday, July 29th

It was reported on Twitter and on Islanders Point Blank by Chris Botta, that the Rolston/Hunter trade was a prelude to a bigger deal. He admits that he was also told "that we’re going to like this one." With the August 1st referendum looming on Monday, Islanders fans can probably expect any kind of a major deal being announced, if one goes down, by this weekend.

-Rob McGowan

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George Prax's picture

I actually think that trade is decent. Rolston, while overpaid, has some hockey left in him I think, and losing Hunter isn't that big of a deal. Gives some depth and a veteran presence for the isles.

Can't wait to hear how Monday turns out.

Rob McGowan's picture

Likewise. By Sunday the Islanders are going to release what the new Coliseum would look like if approved. The August 1st vote would not be the end of it though. An approving process and addition financial plans by Wang would have to be submitted to NIFA, but as long as they present everything that is necessary, a positive turn out on August 1st would make this very difficulty to fail.