Islanders Move Johnson, Acquire Kennedy and Neuvirth At Trade Deadline

The New York Islanders weren’t anticipated by many to be busy today during the NHL’s annual trade deadline. But to the contrary, Garth Snow’s phone was ringing plenty today as the Islanders GM made a handful of moves.

The Islanders dealt forward Cory Conacher to the Vancouver Canucks for Dustin Joffrey, who has been playing with the Utica Comets of the AHL.

Per the Isles official press release:

Jeffrey, 27, scored 41 points (17 goals, 24 assists) in 49 games with the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League this season. The Sarnia, ON, native won a Calder Cup Championship last season with the Texas Stars.

In 124 career games in the National Hockey League with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Dallas Stars, Jeffrey has 31 points (17 goals, 14 assists). He’s also appeared in 249 career American Hockey League games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Texas Stars, totaling 204 points (73 goals, 131 assists).

Conacher did not pan out the way that the Islanders’ coaching staff had hoped. He failed to find success on the top line with John Tavares earlier this year and was soon demoted to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, making this transaction nothing more than a minor league deal.

The Isles also wound up acquiring Tyler Kennedy from the San Jose Sharks.

The New York Islanders have acquired forward Tyler Kennedy from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a conditional pick in the 2015 or 2016 NHL Draft.  The condition is that San Jose will receive either the Islanders seventh round selection in the 2015 NHL Draft, or the Tampa Bay Lightning’s seventh round pick in 2015 (previously acquired by the Islanders).  If the Islanders win the Stanley Cup and Kennedy plays in at least 50% of the games in the Final, the Islanders will instead trade the later pick of either their third round pick in 2016 or Vancouver’s third round pick (previously acquired) in the 2016 NHL Draft.

Kennedy, 28, scored nine points (four goals, five assists) in 25 games this season, his second with San Jose. The Sault Ste. Marie, ON, native spent the first six seasons of his NHL career with the Pittsburgh Penguins, winning a Stanley Cup in 2009.

Kennedy isn’t going to light the lamp or be a stellar hockey player for the Islanders as they make their run in the playoffs, but he brings a wealth of experience to an otherwise inexperienced bottom-six crew (Brock Nelson, Anders Lee and Ryan Strome) at an inexpensive price. 

With the reemergence of Colin McDonald, and injuries likely to add up during a hopefully long playoff run, Kennedy’s veteran presence will be a welcomed one in the Islanders’ locker room.

But the biggest deal of the day for Snow involved Chad Johnson and a third round pick in the 2016 draft going to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for goaltender Michael Neuvirth.

Johnson never was able to find success as the Islanders back-up behind Jaroslav Halak this year, having gone 8-8-1 in 19 games played with a 3.08 GAA and .889 save percentage.

Although Johnson has delivered better performances over the last few games, his most recent loss to the Carolina Hurricanes was indicative of how most games went for him this season. He surrendered five goals on 41 shots, losing the game 5-3.

Neuvirth doesn’t exactly have an admirable record, but his individual stats are better than Johnson’s. Additionally, Neuvirth has managed these stats despite playing on a team that appears destined to finish last in the NHL.

The former Sabres back-up has a 6-17-3 record in 25 games played, but carries a 2.99 GAA and 0.918 save percentage. Averaging close to three goals a game on a team that currently is 19-39-5 isn’t surprising. However, the fact that he’s been able to statistically stop close to 92% of the shots he faces each game is more intriguing.

When you consider that Johnson was only stopping close to 89% of the shots he faced on a team that has more or less been in first place all year, it is easy to argue that Neuvirth is the better goaltender.

Neuvirth is also in the final year of his contract. This gives the Isles the option of considering Kevin Poulin for the back-up job behind Halak next year, or extending Neuvirth's contract, depending on how he finishes the year.

Having a reliable back-up going into the playoffs will be paramount for this team’s success, considering how much the organization has relied on Halak’s stellar play this year.

With less than 20 games remaining, fans can likely expect to see plenty of Neuvirth as we inch closer to the playoffs to give Halak some much needed rest.

-Rob McGowan


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