Garth Snow decided to use the few draft assets he has over the next two seasons to shore up his team's current successful season, sending a pair of draft picks out for a new backup goaltender and a depth forward in the hours before Monday's trade deadline.
The bigger deal was acquiring goaltender Michal Neuvirth from the Sabres for current backup Chad Johnson and a 2016 third-round pick. Neuvirth, 26, was traded from the Caps to the Sabres last March at the 2014 trade deadline for Jaroslav Halak and will now team with Halak in the Isles' net for the stretch run and the postseason.
Neuvirth was 9-17-3 for the 30th-place Sabres, but with a respectable .918 save percentage. He was once the Caps' No. 1 goaltender but injuries reduced his role before he was dealt to Buffalo last year. He is an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Johnson signed a two-year, $2.6-million contract with the Islanders on July 1 to be the veteran backup for Halak. But Johnson's .889 save percentage wasn't good enough to warrant a commitment for another season, and the Sabres, in full sell-off mode to position themselves for one of the two potential star players at the top of the June draft, took on Johnson's extra year. He presumably will be their starter the rest of the season.
The Islanders also sent a conditional pick to the Sharks for Tyler Kennedy, a 28-year-old winger who spent the past two seasons in San Jose after six successful years with the Penguins. Kennedy has four goals and nine points in 25 games this season. The pick will be a 2015 seventh-rounder unless the Islanders win the Stanley Cup and Kennedy plays in half of the Final series games, in which case the pick becomes a 2016 third-rounder.
Casey Cizikas and Kyle Okposo were expected back on the ice this week, but the Isles have been patching together their bottom six forwards the past two weeks. Kennedy should help that depth and has 76 games of playoff experience.
In two minor moves, the Islanders also shipped out Cory Conacher, who started the season on the top line but was waived in December, to the Canucks for minor-league veteran Dustin Jeffrey and sent Bridgeport goaltender David Leggio to the Coyotes for AHL defenseman Mark Louis.