#40 -- Summer 2001 -- Isles hire Laviolette, trade for Peca and Yashin, claim Osgood. After a series of down years and no playoff berths since 1994, the Isles made a series of move that reinvigorated the franchise. On May 24th, the Isles hired Peter Laviolette as their head coach. One month later, the Isles traded Zdeno Chara, Bill Muckalt and the 2nd overall pick (Jason Spezza) to Ottawa for Alexei Yashin. The following day, the Isles traded Tim Connolly and Taylor Pyatt to Buffalo in exchange for Michael Peca. Then, on September 28th the Islanders found their number one goaltender when they claimed Chris Osgood from Detroit. The newcomers, led by three Osgood shutouts, helped the Isles to an 11-1-1-1 and an eventual fifth place in the conference and their first playoff berth in eight years. The acquisition also allowed Rick DiPietro a valuable year of minor league experience.
The claim of Osgood and the hiring of Laviolette turned out to be slam dunks. The Peca trade worked pretty well too, at least until the Darcy Tucker injury the following spring. Meanwhile, Connolly and Pyatt went on to have somewhat pedestrian NHL careers. If there was one part the Isles could undo it would have been the Yashin trade. While Alexei had some good moments for the Islanders, particularly early, Chara of course went on to be a star and Spezza has turned out to be the 2nd biggest goal scorer from that draft (a distant 2nd, behind Ilya Kovalchuk, who was taken first). However, at the time, the additions of the three players and a coach brought the Isles closer to winning a playoff series than they had been, and have been, since 1993. That's good enough for #40 on the Isles 40 in 40 list.
The List to Date:
#40 -- Summer 2001 -- Isles hire Laviolette, trade for Peca and Yashin, claim Osgood.