The New York Islanders have dealt defenseman James Wisniewski to the Montreal Canadiens for a pair of draft picks.
The Islanders acquired Montreal’s compensatory second round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and a conditional fifth round pick in 2012 for Wisniewski.
Wisniewski joined the Islanders on July 30th in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a conditional third round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The 26-year-old Canton, Michigan, native had three goals and 21 points in 32 games for the Isles this season but he had a troubling plus-minus rating of minus-18. He was also suspended two games for making an obscene gesture to Sean Avery of the Rangers on October 11th.
Wisniewski took over as the Islanders top defenseman after Mark Streit was injured during a training camp scrimmage. He had a point in each of the Islanders last six games during which time the team went 4-1-1. Wisniewski also saw extensive time on the power play unit, and 13 of his 21 points came with the man advantage.
Still, Wiz had trouble handling the responsibilities of being the top defenseman on the club. He averaged 23:14 of ice time per game, leading all Isles defensemen. He will not be asked to do as much on a Montreal team with more talent and depth on the blue line.
The Islanders have suffered numerous injuries on defense this season, with Streit, Milan Jurcina, Andrew MacDonald, Mike Mottau and Jack Hillen all missing extensive time due to injuries.
The move does not come as a complete surprise as Wisniewski was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this summer and was one of the more tradable commodities the club had on their roster. With the playoffs a long shot this season, GM Garth Snow is sticking to his plan of building this team primarily through the draft. He spent a third round pick to get Wisniewski and turned it into a second round pick and a fifth rounder.
There is speculation that this trade means another deal is coming soon as the loss of Wisniewski’s salary puts the Islanders right near the salary cap floor, but not below it. Thus far, there is no comment from the club regarding any imminent deals.