Isles Find Missing Defensive D-Man And a Chimera Replacement

Still in playoff contention, the Islanders nevertheless announced weeks ago that they would not trade John Tavares, their captain and premier sharpshooter.

Which meant that a potential blockbuster exchange essentially was removed from the table in Brooklyn while other plans were evaluated.

Through Sunday, the Islanders’ high command was satisfied with the lone trade for ex-Oilers and Canadiens defenseman Brandon Davidson while also locking Josh Bailey in with a new pact making JB virtually a lifetime member of the franchise.

But on Monday, Garth Snow returned to the trading jamboree by dispatching veteran Jason Chimera to the Anaheim Ducks for the much younger forward Chris Wagner.

[Watch Islanders-Canadiens Wednesday on MSG+ & MSG GO. Download the app for free.]

The big question, of course, is whether the trades — and assorted hope-for-trades-that-were-non-trades — can enable the Islanders to reach the postseason.

Here are my evaluations:


Hello again, Josh Bailey. Celebrating his 10th year with the Isles, Ace signed a six-year, $30 million deal. Which inspires the query, is that good or bad?

Good for Ace and good for the Brooklyn-Long Islanders.

Why? Because Bailey set a career high in points last season (13-43-56) and already has eclipsed that this year (15-47-62) despite missing four games. Ace has 19 games remaining to further up his total.

Josh instantly replaced Frans Nielsen as the best two-way Islander and has developed chemistry with captain JT and left wing Anders Lee. Once Nielsen and Kyle Okposo departed, Bailey became a team leader.

Off the charts, Ace has the ability to adapt to a teammate’s style of play whether its Jordan Eberle, Mathew Barzal or Andrew Ladd. As one Islanders-watcher, Rob Taub puts it, “He leaves his heart out on the ice without taking a shift off.”


The Islanders obtained defenseman Brandon Davidson from the Oilers for a third-round pick in the 2019 Draft. Davidson was drafted in the sixth round in 2010. Overall, he’s totaled 20 points in 137 career NHL games.

Davidson’s experience with both the Oilers and Habs convinced Snow that Brandon would give the Islanders a backliner who will be responsible behind the blue line.

Teamed with Davidson in Edmonton, the Isles Eberle waxed positively about his former Oilers pal, now a buddy with the Isles; especially considering the difficulty coach Doug Weight‘s team has had in securing victories. A fresh defender could just be the prescription for goaltending survival.

Notorious for losing games in the third period — Saturday night’s 2-1 loss to New Jersey is Exhibit A — the Islanders needed at least one new face on the blue line. Davidson could be the backliner the club sorely needs for third-period lead preservation.

With a day left to execute another move, Snow chose to make another exchange, and while not a headliner, it does have some significance to insiders such as Yours Truly. To wit:


Snow unloaded hugely-disappointing (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) Chimera to Anaheim for Wagner. No matter how you shake this — even if you insert this in an NHL blender — the Islanders win the exchange.

At age 38, Chimera easily was the most under-achieving Islander this season. A 20-goal scorer for the Brooklynites last season — with 13 assists; and don’t ask me how — the vet had posted a mere two goals in 58 contests this semester before being benched by Weight.

A dozen years younger than Jason, Chris checks in at 6-feet, 198 pounds and no doubt will be given a shot at fourth line work to determine his usefulness in the homestretch.

Suffice to say that The Maven has never seen a player speed around the ice — Chimera still could skate — and do less than Jason did this season. (He was, however, a good interview.)

Snow did well on both of them. While neither falls in the spectacular category, who says headline-making is necessary for wise exchanges.

Many believe that with some tinkering — tweaking if you like that better — the Islanders still can make it to the postseason.

To do so, The Maven will borrow goalie Jaro Halak‘s deathless words of a few weeks ago which should be the formula for success moving forward toward the Finish Line: “Execution, Effort and Heart.”

The pair of additions should contribute in those departments but, more than that, the successful progress prescription must come from the club’s core and that remains to be seen as they prepare for their game on Wednesday in Montreal.

[Watch Islanders-Canadiens Wednesday on MSG+ & MSG GO. Download the app for free.]