Peca joined the Islanders along with Alexei Yashin in separate
draft-day trades in 2001 as New York tried to shed its losing image
following seven years of missing the playoffs. The two-time NHL
defensive forward of the year immediately became the team's captain
and helped lead New York to three straight postseason appearances.
"It's never easy to trade anybody, tougher still when the
person is your captain," general manager Mike Milbury said.
"That's compounded by the fact that Mike Peca, in large part, was
responsible for restoring credibility to the New York Islanders
But the Islanders never made it out of the first round, losing
to Toronto, Ottawa and Tampa Bay. Peca's salary might have pushed
him closer to the door, too, as the 31-year-old center is due to
earn $3.99 million this season.
"We've only made it to the playoffs and not gone further than
that so a shakeup could be in part attributed to that," Milbury
New York already has $7.6 million of the $39-million salary cap
tied up with enigmatic center Alexei Yashin.
"It's time for Alexei to have a breakout season," Milbury
said. "The table has been set for him to break out. I hope and
trust that he's doing everything to get ready and accomplish
The Islanders have been busy this week, signing defenseman
Alexei Zhitnik to a four-year, $14-million deal on Tuesday and then
adding Satan and acquiring defenseman Brent Sopel from Vancouver on
Edmonton pulled off its second major trade in two days as the
Oilers acquired Chris Pronger from St. Louis late Tuesday night for
defensemen Eric Brewer, Doug Lynch and Jeff Woywitka. The Oilers
then gave Pronger a five-year deal at $6.25 million per season on
New York made defense a top priority heading into the free-agent
season and nabbed Zhitnik just hours after losing stalwart
blue-liner Adrian Aucoin to Chicago.
Satan signed with the Islanders just three days after being cut
loose by the Buffalo Sabres, also Peca's former team. He became an
unrestricted free agent when the Sabres declined to qualify his $4
million contract for next season.
In the past six seasons, the 30-year-old forward has 194 goals --
ninth best in the NHL. He led the Sabres in scoring in six of his
eight years in Buffalo.
The Islanders have been looking for a left winger to play
alongside Yashin, and now they might have two options in Satan or
the 27-year-old York -- who had 16 goals and 26 assists with
Edmonton in the 2003-04 season.
"There's been sort of this undercurrent, 'We need Alexei to
have a good winger.' I thought we had pretty darn good players here
before," Milbury said. "I can't say it was specifically for
Alexei but it certainly opens a door for him to be more successful
with somebody of Satan's quality, somebody of York's quality, and
maybe more importantly a balance that this brings to this lineup to
make him less of a target."
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Satan has played in two All-Star games
and helped Buffalo reach the Stanley Cup finals in 1999. He's
represented Slovakia at the Olympics, World Championships and World
Cup of Hockey. In the 2003-04 season he had 29 goals and 28 assists
Milbury also talked to the agent for former Islanders player
Ziggy Palffy, but Palffy's past injuries compared to Satan's
durability helped to take him out of the mix.
York spent the past two-plus seasons in Edmonton after being
traded there by the New York Rangers in March 2002. In six NHL
seasons, York has 98 goals and 137 assists in 374 games.
"This new look in general gives us balanced scoring throughout
the lineup," Milbury said. "We think that we're going to be tough
Sopel, acquired for a conditional draft pick in 2006, had career
highs with 10 goals and 32 assists in 2003-04 with the Canucks. He
has one year left on his deal, that will pay him $1.59 million this
season, and he can qualify for unrestricted free agency next