New York Islander Fan Central | 9/11/2007 06:11:00 PM | | | | | |

Islanders Website announced the club today traded Petteri Nokelainen to Boston for Ben Walter. Islanders also receive a conditional 2Nd round pick in 2009 from the Bruins.

The 23-year old Walter was the Most Valuable Player of the Bruins' American Hockey League affiliate in Providence last season, finishing second on the team in scoring with 24 goals and 43 assists for 67 points and a team-leading +23 in 73 games. The 21-year old Nokelainen was 6-10-16 in 60 games last season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL).

"Ben Walter is a strong addition to our roster and immediately becomes one of our top prospects," said Islanders general manager Garth Snow. "Our staff loves his two-way play, work ethic and knack for scoring big goals. Ben is a young player who will battle for a position in training camp and gives us excellent depth at an important position."

The 6-2, 200-pound Walter – the son of Ryan Walter, a 15-year NHL veteran with Montreal, Washington and Vancouver – is entering his third professional season after three years at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. Ben has played 10 games for the Boston Bruins over the last two seasons.

In his last season at UMass-Lowell, Walter was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Trophy, given to the best player in college hockey. That season he was 26-13-39 in 36 games.

Nokelainen was the Islanders' first round selection in the 2004 NHL Draft. He played 15 games for the Islanders in 2005-06, scoring a goal and adding two assists.

"Petteri is a talented young player," said Snow. "We wish him the best."

NYI Fan Central Comments:
There were some odd rumors a month of so ago of the Bruins trading from their excess of centers and Walter was mentioned. A former first round pick is a heck of a return when trading from a surplus.

Walter was selected in the fifth round (160 overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, while Nokelainen is a first round pick. Walter is more suited to play center than Nokelainen who is listed as a center/rw. In terms of the NHL Nokelainen looked like he could help make an NHL impact before his injury that has hindered his game until this summer when some reports claimed he was finally healthy. Meanwhile for Walter's impressive numbers he could not find a spot on a very weak Bruins club.

No doubt the conditional second rounder says it all about who the better prospect is likely to be.

A lot of things at work here. An Islander team that did not have a spot for Nokelainen on paper for a player who prefers to be a right wing with a surplus of right wings in the organization. Rumors that Nokelainen was going to play in Europe even though he had a signed contract and was obligated to be in Bridgeport. Nokelainen's NHL contract which was close to a million dollars for the club to use him on a fourth line.

Prospects like Jeremy Colliton and Blake Comeau, Frans Nielsen among others needing an opportunity. Nokelainen was also out or playing hurt as he recovered from his injury for the better part of two full seasons.

Walter was a center in an organization with too many centers.

Just do not like to see a team that did not have a first round pick this summer, that just traded two other former first rounders trade another one for a player drafted in the fourth rounder who's not an established NHL talent. Hopefully Ben Walter makes us forget this and breaks through to win a spot on the Islanders.

Updated 7:03pm
The Bruins would give up a second-round pick in 2009 to the Islanders if Nokelainen plays in 50 or more NHL games in either 2007-08 or 2008-09, or if he appears in 90 or more games total over the next two seasons according to the Boston Globe.

Islanders Easter Pro Scout Chris Sullivan
explains why the club was interested in acquiring Walter.

“Ben is a guy we watched in the Calder Cup playoffs last year. He’s effective at both ends of the ice, has good hockey sense and seems to always be in the right place at the right time,” said Chris O’Sullivan (Dorchester, Mass.), Eastern Pro Scout for the Islanders.

Walter had 67 points in 73 games for Providence last season, and was named team MVP despite playing on a second line behind top center David Krejci.

“We feel that (Walter) took a big step in his development last year. He’s not the quickest guy, but is efficient and plays his position well. With opportunity, he can be a good two-way guy at the NHL level,” said O’Sullivan.

Updated 8:00am 9/12:
Michael Fornabaio from the Ct Post noted some scoring trends from Ben Walter last season. the Ct Post also gave Fornabaio space in the paper to do a full article here on the trade.

"He's definitely a player who thinks the game very well," Bridgeport coach Jack Capuano said. "He's got tremendous hockey sense. He's gifted offensively."

"Nokie was a great player for us," said Bridgeport president Howard Saffan, a big Nokelainen supporter. "Obviously, he was rehabilitating the majority of the season. We're giving up an excellent player to get an excellent player in Ben Walter."

Steven Harris of the Boston Globe wrote Walter
was viewed as not physically involved enough and made it up from AHL Providence for just 10 games over the last two seasons. (no points)in an article that talked about Nokelainen's potential.

The 23-year-old Walter was voted the P-Bruins' MVP last season by his teammates, but became the odd man out because of the organization's strength at center, where Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron, Phil Kessel, Mark Mowers, and Nate Thompson top him on the depth chart. The Bruins also have center-ice prospects Zach Hamill, Brad Marchand, and Carl Soderberg.

Boston Globe Wednesday had the following from Peter Chiarelli:

"We felt with the surplus of centermen we had and the fact that Nokelainen was available," said Chiarelli, "this was a better fit for us."