Let the Speculation Begin…

William Wilson January 8, 2013 2

Mike Komisarek may want to start looking over his shoulders.

Today it was reported that New York Islanders defenceman Lubomir Visnovsky has no intention of playing for the lowly team. He has refused his invitation to training camp.

Passing on the dullness of New York City, Visnovsky plans to stay is his native Slovakia for the duration of the shortened NHL season.

Mike Komisarek in a Leafs uniformPhoto by Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press

Visnovsky was traded to the Islanders from Anaheim on draft day for a 2013 second-round pick. He took an immediate dislike to his new team. Although he tried to block the trade by filing a claim with the players’ association, the (personally and professionally?) devastating move couldn’t be avoided.

In 771 career NHL games, the diminutive rearguard has 117 goals and 333 assists. He scored a career-high 68 points (18 goals, 50 assists) during the 2011-2012 season.

At 36 years of age, Visnovsky is likely running out of time and energy to play in the NHL. He probably has 2 or 3 productive seasons left in the tank.

For their part, the Islanders have encountered other trouble in the past trying to attract big names. After claiming Evgeni Nabokov off waivers in early 2011, the Russian goaltender refused to play for the team. Instead, he was hoping to play for the Red Wings.

I’m sure Nabokov would have helped the Islanders win a few additional regular season games, but I wouldn’t have banked on him winning many, if any, playoff games.

(I’m sure San Jose would agree.)

Nabokov ended up playing for the Islanders last season where he sported some decent stats: 19 wins (18 loses), 2 shutouts, a 2.55 goals against average and a .914 save percentage. (Please keep in mind that he was playing for the Islanders.)

In fact, his stats were good enough to generate some trade interest from the Leafs. Unfortunately, no deal was ever reached between the two teams as they finished out the remainder of the season competing for air in the Eastern Conference basement.

I wouldn’t expect Nabokov to appear in Toronto any time soon given the Islander’s ongoing circus situation in net. A trade involving Visnovsky, however, might be possible.

If you aren’t familiar, there is ongoing speculation about a possible trade between the Islanders and Leafs involving the defensively challenged Komisarek. Such a trade may be especially attractive right now assuming the Islanders are unable to fill Visnovsky’s place on the blueline from internal options.

Komisarek is a New York state native and would surely benefit from leaving the big lights of Toronto for the low lights of (Long Island) New York.

The two defenceman make comparable salaries though the slight edge goes to Komisarek, who’ll make $3.5 million against Visnovsky’s $3 million this season.

Visnovsky will become an unrestricted free agent after the current season while Komisarek will have one more year remaining on his contract. He’ll earn another (undeserved) $3.5 million.

The Islander’s might enjoy the small degree of stability that Komisarek would bring them and I’m sure the Leafs would enjoy the offensive upside of adding Visnovsky. This might be particularly true if Jake Gardiner misses any significant length of playing time – he is currently recovering from a concussion.

Toronto’s power play, for one, would see the addition of a second major scoring threat in Visnovsky. This would take some pressure of captain Dion Phaneuf and open up other scoring chances down low as opposing teams scramble to cover the high shots. It’ll be like reuniting Bryan McCabe and a Tomas Kaberle who isn’t afraid to shoot!

I must admit that all of this is pure speculation and I’m sure it won’t be the last crazy trade rumor involving the Leafs (or the last crazy whatever-it-is involving the Islanders).

Such is the joy of NHL hockey. Where have you been?

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