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The Skinny on The Openers

"The Skinny" … on the Openers By Eric Hornick The NHL released the schedule for the 2016-17 season on Tuesday.  It'...

Monday, March 02, 2015

The Skinny: Isles acquire Neuvirth; leave Chad hanging in Buffalo. Isles also add playoff experience in Kennedy; 2 other minor deals

In: Neuvirth (from Buf), Kennedy (from SJ), Jeffrey (from Utica, to Bridegeport), Louis (from Portland, to Arizona)
Out: Johnson (to Buff), 2016/3rd (to Buff), conditional pick (to SJ), Conacher (to Utica) , Leggio (to Arizona)

When it comes right down to it, Chad Johnson's Islander career might have ended due to a disputed goal vs. Carolina on Saturday.  That goal and the four that followed in the second period were enough to convince the Isles that Johnson may not be the right backup heading towards the playoffs, despite his 1.23 GAA and 95.3% save percentage in the four previous games.

Johnson was shuffled to Buffalo in exchange for a goaltender who has always had a lot of success AGAINST the Islanders in Michal Neuvirth.

Neuvirth won his first 5 starts (all with Washington) against the Isles before the Isles finally beat him last February 4th by a 1-0 score.  Neuvirth also played well vs. the Isles in a game the Islanders thoroughly dominated (and eventually won) in Buffalo on February 8th.

That February 8th game was the first of 9 games he played for Buffalo this month and he allowed 4 goals in only one of them -- this past Saturday in Jagr's debut with Florida.  Even in that game he made 43 saves.

Neuvirth is 6-17-3 on the season with a 2.99 GAA and a .918 save percentage.  But consider this -- Neuvirth was facing about 37 shots a game with Buffalo; Halak (33-13-0, 2.46 and .911) is facing only about 28 shots a game with the Isles.

Neuvirth is in the final year of a 2-year deal he signed with the Caps.  He will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1.  Neuvirth, who is from the Czech Republic and Halak, who is Slovakian, know each other - at least in passing.   They were traded for EACH OTHER at last year's deadline.  Halak, who never played a game with the Sabres went to Washington along with a 3rd round pick while Neuvirth became a Sabre.

Johnson finishes his Isles career 8-8-1 with a 3.09 GAA and an .889 save percentage.  Like Halak, Johnson was facing about 28 shots a game with the Sabres.  Johnson is in the first year of a 2-year deal he signed with the Islanders last July.   The Sabres also get a 3rd round pick in 2016 from the Islanders -- one that the Isles will hope will be in the high 80's, or even #90.  Johnson may get out more chance at playing on Coliseum ice - the Sabres will be the opponent for the penultimate regular season home game: April 4th.

In what on the face of it is a relatively minor deal, Tyler Kennedy was sent back East for  a conditional draft pick. Kennedy has played nearly 500 regular season NHL games (464) and is 84-110-194.  He also brings a piece of jewelry -- a Stanley Cup ring that he won with the Penguins in 2009.  He is 12-15-27 in 76 playoff games, all with Pittsburgh.

Kennedy played in the final two games of the 2013 Isles/Penguins series and was a factor in both games.  He scored the game-winning (opening) goal in Pittsburgh's 4-0 win in game 5  (near the midpoint of the second period) and then assisted on Brooks Orpik's series-winning 
goal in overtime of game 6.

Update: I'll let the Isles explain the conditional draft pick being sent back to the Sharks:
<< 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.>> 


In a separate deal, Cory Conacher was sent to Vancouver (who promptly assigned him to Utica) for Dustin Jeffrey.  Jeffrey, who has 124 games of NHL experience, is 17-24-41 for the Comets this season.  Conacher, who attended Canisius College in Buffalo, has now played professionally in 5 NY cities, with Utica joining Uniondale (Nassau County NY) and Buffalo in the NHL and Syracuse and Rochester in the NHL.

Finally, TSN is noting that David Leggio, who played for the Sound Tigers, has been sent to Arizona.  Not clear yet what's going the other way.

Update: Defenseman Mark Louis is the return for Leggio.  Louis, who like Leggio, has never played an NHL game, played junior and then Canadian university hockey before joining the pro ranks. He's listed as 6'4", 230.


Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since January 21, 1982. Visit my blog: NYISkinny.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

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