A Roster Merry-Go-Round

Here we are with a just a few games left before the Olympic Break and the Islanders roster is in a spin-cycle. As of today, Marty Biron has been sent down to Bridgeport for a conditioning stint that will last out for the weekend, Brendan Witt may be close to a return, and Trevor Gillies previously passed through waivers and has returned to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Does this mean that Garth Snow has a few trades up his sleeves to free up some roster space with all this recent activity? Maybe.. Maybe not..

One thing is for certain, Garth will not make any deals that will stray away from the rebuild. However, that does not mean that your necessarily a safe bet to stay if your name is Jeff Tambellini, Blake Comeau, Sean Bergenheim or Bruno Gervais. I'm not saying I have heard legitimate rumors that I can report as deals that may be on the table, but I would say that these four players may be used as bait if a certain deal comes across Snow's desk. The reason why I mention these four is that they have at one point or another (or for most of the season) spent time in the press-box, haven't contributed much on the ice or have been a liability when they have played.

Tambellini has only played in a total of 24 games this season and still has that question mark hovering over his head that he's had for the past few years. Will he ever develop into the scorer he was in Bridgeport? Or is he another first-round bust? He's been given plenty of time to prove himself and hasn't been able to do so.

Comeau has shown that he can be an effective fore-checker when he plays the body and at times shows some offensive flare. But overall he has been just about a 3rd or 4th line checking winger. There have been some games where he hasn't been noticed at all, making it easy for Gordon to choose him as a healthy scratch when certain players deserved a chance to return after an injury. He's had trouble cracking Gordon's line-up in the past as well, making him a possible player to be moved.

Bergenheim has been with the organization since 2002. This year he has only managed to score 13 points in 40 games played. Although injuries have been a problem, as they have for most of his career, those are numbers that don't make you think he will be a top-six winger. There have been times when this kid can go on a run and suddenly pull out sick moves and find the back of the net with ease. But those stretches are few and far between and are often met with droughts that last even longer. Like Comeau, he may be nothing more than a 3rd or 4th line forward.

Bruno Gervais...where to begin. I'll start as far back as Juniors. In the QMJHL in 2002-2003, Bruno put up 50 points from the blue-line, scoring 22 goals and 28 assists. Those are some impressive stats for a defenseman. He was drafted in the 6th round of the 2003 draft and spent the 2004-2005 season with Bridgeport. In that year he totaled 8 goals and 22 assists for 30 points. He started the following season with the Sound Tigers and ran off as an offensive machine. In 55 games he scored 17 goals and 25 assists for 42 points. It had seemed as if the Islanders had found a future anchor from the back-end, but so far he hasn't panned out that way by any means. In 257 NHL games played, Bruno has 7 goals, 48 assists and 55 points to go along with his -43. It's looking safe to say that his ceiling has been reached in his four seasons and change with the Isles.

With all of this information at hand, it doesn't mean that the Islanders are looking to part ways with these four, but their numbers do make them more expendable over the likes of Okposo, Bailey, Tavares, Hillen, Schremp and Moulson. They may only turn out to be depth players, and there's nothing wrong with that. That is where Gordon, the coaching staff and management will have to decide what is best for the team. Just because Garth is rebuilding with youth does not mean all the younger players have to be kept around. The ones that show that they have the potential to bring this team to the status of a contender will be here for years to come, but the ones that aren't bringing this team to it's future may be let go. With this season being only the second year of a long, extensive process, decisions will need to be made either at the deadline or over the summer.

And here's a fun fact for you. With the exception of Okposo, who was drafted during the short-lived Neil Smith/Ted Nolan era, Tambellini, Comeau, Bergenheim and Gervais are the four main players left over from the days of Mike Milbury.

My bet is to keep a close eye on any rumors involving these four as well as Marty Biron, whom Garth will obviously look to shop with Ricky back along with Roloson's superb season. Until March 6th, anything can happen.

-Rob McGowan

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