An independent blog on the New York Islanders and the NHL by a guy from New York.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Islanders Off-Season 2015: Leblanc, QO's & Tyler Gianchetta



Louis Leblanc, 24, signed a one year/two-way contract with your New York Islanders.  Leblanc, the former 1st round pick (18th overall) of Montreal in 2009, had 14 & 15 for 29 pts with AHL’s Norfolk (Edmonton) last season. He should provide some solid depth to the organization with the Sound Tigers and be given a chance to improve his skating and overall game.  Arthur Staple adds, “Isles now have 4 of the top 18 picks from the 09 Draft in the org: Tavares, de Haan, Leddy and Leblanc.”  Leblanc earned USHL & ECAC rookie of the year, All-Rookie Team honors.  In international play, Leblanc won a silver medal with Team Canada (3 & 4 for 11 pts in 7 games) at the 2011 World Junior Championships.




Mike Halmo and Kevin Czuczman accepted their qualifying offers, Brock Nelson and Kevin Poulin did not.  A deal with Brock Nelson (20 & 22 for 42 pts in 82 games last season) will get done, but Kevin Poulin may not have the leverage required to stay in the Islanders organization.  Especially with the way Parker Milner and Stephon Williams played in Bridgeport last season.  The BST started the 2015-15 campaign with Kevin Poulin and David Leggio, but then made changes.  Milner, a former two-time champion with Boston College, went 4-2-0 with 2.95gaa and a .905 Sv% in eight games with the Sound Tigers last season while Williams was 3-1-0, 2.12gaa and 936Sv% after a stellar outing with Minnesota State at 25-6-3.  In any event, despite not signing their QO’s, Nelson and Poulin’s real deadline is the start of training camp on 9/17.  The Islanders have an organizational rule that a player who doesn’t sign by the start of camp sits out the season, ala Sean Bergenheim.



Tyler Gianchetta is a super fan of the New York Islanders.  On Wednesday, he and his mother Susan were involved in a car crash.  Despite having a broken wrist from the impact of the accident, he pulled his mother from the burning car on the Island before authorities arrived on the scene. An act of courage for anyone who finds themselves in his kind of situation.  "I am not a hero until my mom is OK," Tyler Gianchetta said.


Tyler told me his Mom had successful neck and hip surgery yesterday and is recovering comfortably today.  I know Tyler from his presence on Isles social media.  He handled himself in the crash just like he faces the challenges of Autism.  With courage.  And be sure he is a loyal and passionate Islanders fan who is all about supporting his team.


But today, Tyler had a message for Garth Snow, the Islanders team and his fellow fans everywhere.  “One of their biggest fans would love if they could pray for my mom and send their support however they can. I know they have to focus on their own stuff, but it would be great to know that I have their support.”






Isles Notes:



Final game from Isles mini-camp:  Team Blue 7, Team White 4 @AWQuine scores four goals, including a natural hat trick in the third period.




Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Islanders Off-Season 2015: Blue & White Scrimmage At Barclays Center

After a day of rookie camp yesterday, your New York Islanders prospects met at the Barclays Center & competed in the teams’ annual Blue & White scrimmage. 6,311 fans came for a game on a Wednesday night to see the top prospects in the system compete.  They gave the fans a sample of what they can bring to the organization by showcasing their skills in the inter-squad game. Players like Michael Dal Colle, Joshua Ho-Sang & Ryan Pulock joined top 2015 draftees, Mathew Barzal & Anthony Beauvillier in the game.  Goalies, Ilya Sorokin (visa issues) and Linus Soderstrom (hip surgery) missed rookie camp.



Garth Snow mentioned how he felt about the teams prospect pool, "We feel that we’ve built a team through the draft now that can compete with any team on any given night."




Despite the White team’s puck possession early in the game, it was Otso Rantakari (Salerno & Quine) scoring for the Blue squad just 5:07 into the first period.  Camp invite, Miks Indrasis (Bertrand & Barzal) gave Team Blue a 2-0 lead in the second half of the period.  Adam Pelech showed up and brought his grit with a few nice physical plays and fellow BST, Stephon Williams was solid in net for the Blue team.  Kevin Lankinen played well in net for White despite surrendering 2 goals.



McAdam for Blue and Lankinen still in net for White to start the second period.  Sam Anas puts it up high to give Team Blue a 3-0 lead early in the 2nd period.  The White team gets a PPG off a sick feed from behind the net from Josh Ho-sang (Song) to Griffen Molino for the goal, 3-1 the score.  Sebastien Collberg (Barzal & Dal Colle) adds one and its 4-1 Blue off a really nice passing play to net the tally.  It’s the second assist for Barzal.  Undrafted, Sam Anas tucks in his second goal from behind the net for Blue to make it a 5-1 score.  Josh Ho-Sang sets up Anthony Beauvillier with another high light reel play to make it a 5-2 game after 2.



McAdam still in for Blue and Anthony Pupplo in net for White to start the third period. After some back and forth by both squads, Team White continued the pressure until they had a 5 on 3 chance for 1:27.  Joshua Ho-Sang to Anthony Beauvillier tallied again to make it 5-3 game late in the game.  Ho-Sang (Ole) chants rain down in the Barclays Center from the Isles faithful.  Team Blue defeated Team White by a 5-3 score in regulation.



In the skills competition, Hardest Shot was up first and Ryan Pulock ripped one at 105 mph. John Schaivo, a top roller hockey pro scored a sick lacrosse style goal in the shootout competition and Otso Rantakari netted the overall advantage for team Blue, for an 8-3 win.



Highlights included the play making of Ho-Sang, Barzal, & Dal Colle and a dark horse like Anas working hard to make an impression on the coaching staff.  Beauvillier was tenacious and looked lethal in front of the net while Indrasis should get signed to at least make some more noise with the BST.  I liked what I saw (when the stream wasn’t crashing) of D like Pelech & Rantakari.  Ryan Pulock didn’t have his best game, but Sebastian Collberg had some flashes of what Snow had spoken about when he acquired him in the Vanek trade.  Williams was solid in net to start for team Blue and McAdam got better for them as the game went on.  To me, Ho-Sang edged Beauvillier for the game MVP.


We can’t lose sight of the fact that it was a prospect game, but because it was, you can see some of the talent that will soon be fighting for a roster spot.  And once again, it makes me pleased to see how deep Snow has made the Isles system.  This doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to add a veteran or two on both sides of the puck, but I just don’t see it happening unless the right guy is available for the right price.  The Isles have built through the draft and added pieces here and there and they are much better because of it.  How much better will they be this season?  We shall see what they look like to start the season to have a better guess.






Isles Notes:



Former Isles goaltender, Anders Nilsson (Blackhawks) has been traded to the Edmonton Oilers and signed a 1 way NHL contract.


Some interesting side notes were the Barclays center boards were free of ads, the seats along the glass are 3’ higher than other NHL arenas. The Isles experimented with an alternate view of obstructed goal for affected fans on Jumbo Tron.


Per Rob Taub, “Aiden Salerno, John Schiavo : Blue, Michael Gilroy and Mike Marnell: White are the four players from LI playing in tonight's game.”



Thursday, July 2, 2015

Islanders Off-Season 2015: Free Agency, Part 1


Yesterday, day one of free agency opened and your New York Islanders announced 3 deals by 12:15pm.



They quickly addressed their need for a backup goaltender by signing 6’1, 220# Thomas Greiss to 2-year, $3 million contract. Greiss was with Penguins last season posting a 9-6-3 record in 20 games with a 9.08 Sv% and 2.59gaa.  It’s the 4th NHL team for Greiss who has also played for his native Germany on the international stage.  Credits include the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics, the 2010 World Championships and the 2004, 2005 and 2006 World Junior Championships.  Pierre LeBrun, “Kings made strong push on Greiss but he went with Islanders instead.”


I always thought Greiss was a good fit for the Islanders and his analytics matched the kind of guy they were looking for to back up Halak.  They either passed on Neuvirth or he wanted to play for Philadelphia based on the hope of becoming their starter.  Neuvirth got a two-year deal worth $1.5 M in year 1 and $1.75 million in year 2 which was comparable to the deal Greiss got from the Islanders.





Arthur Staple announced that the Thomas Hickey deal was made official. Hickey agreed to a 3 yr. contract extension worth $2.2M per.  Hickey was added off the waiver wire on January 15th, 2013 from LA and has filled in on the Isles blue line admirably in the roles he has been asked for.  Per islanders.nhl.com, “Hickey led all Islanders defensemen in games last season (81), set a career high in assists (20) and matched his career high in points (22).”  Hickey has 7 & 41 for 48 pts in 202 career NHL games for the Islanders. He has played for 2 gold medal teams (08 & 09) for Canada internationally and served as Captain in 2009.




Finally, 6’3, 225# F, Kirill Petrov agreed to a 1 yr, standard entry-level contract with New York.  Petrov was the Isles third round selection, 73rd overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft and has played in the KHL since 2006.  Petrov had 5 & 10 for 15 points with Kazan Ak-Bars of the Kontinental Hockey League last season. Per Islanders.nhl.com, “Playing parts of nine seasons in Russia’s top hockey division, Petrov has tallied 125 points (61 goals, 64 assists) in 318 games with Ak-Bars and Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk.”  Petrov has represented Russia 3 times in international competition.


Petrov was thought to be an early first round talent, but slipped in the draft due to his contractual obligations in the KHL.  The Islanders took a gamble and although he hasn’t reached that level in the K, they hope to see if his perceived potential will blossom with the chance to play with a much improved New York line up in the NHL. 



After the first two days of the free agency period, it seems very possible that Petrov & Pulock may be the only other roster additions the team makes.  This is unless an opportunity opens up via team’s cap issue or low cost trade for an Isles type of target.


The Islanders are about $10M under the cap and still need to sign F, Brock Nelson, so they still have some valuable cap space looking into next season.  The rumors of their desire to trade Michael Grabner (13 pts in 34 games in 14/15) and off load his $5M salary ($3M cap hit) are said to be true by insiders.  Especially after undergoing his second sports hernia surgery last season and seeing a decline in his “speed” game.  With these variables, the ability to now move Grabner is sure to factor into the future plan and is probably a limiting factor on the possibility adding another player via trade.





Isles Notes:



It is most probable that guys like Boulton, Kennedy, McDonald & Visnovsky have most likely been passed over for a future with the team and won’t be resigned.


Islanders sign six to two-way deals to restock the sparse forward cupboard and add/renew contracts in Bridgeport. 


Matt Donovan signed with Buffalo.

Aaron Ness signed with Washington.

Kael Mouillierat signed a two-way deal with Pittsburgh.

Brett Gallant signed with Columbus.

UPDATE:  Colin McDonald has signed with Philadelphia.


***


Check out the new shirt from my friends at Isles Army.









Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Islanders Re-Sign Lee


Today, your New York Islanders announced today that 24 yr old, Anders Lee (F) has agreed to terms on a $15M, four-year, $3.75M per contract extension.  Lee was 25 and 16 for 41 pts in 76 games in his rookie season with the Isles.  After a brief tune up in Bridgeport, Lee jumped into the Isles line up and became a regular contributor last season, including a few tours on the first line with John Tavares.




The former 6th round selection wasn’t sure he wanted to play hockey at one time, but said he was committed to the Islanders after they drafted him in 2009. Overall, Lee has 46 pts in 49 games of AHL play and 57 points in 100 NHL games with New York.
On Lee, Islanders general manager, Garth Snow said, “We’re thrilled to have another home-grown talent signed long term.”



Anders Lee told Arthur Staple that the game 6 & 7 scratches didn't change his view of the Islanders organization. "That had nothing to do with where I want to be. This has been home for me."  Lee went on to tell islanders.nhl.com, “I’m extremely excited to finalize this deal and ensure that I’m a New York Islander for the next four seasons,” Lee said. “The organization has been nothing but first class to me from the moment I was drafted. I look forward to competing for the Stanley Cup in each year while playing in front of the best fans in the NHL."



Stephen Lorenzo said, “I'm told Garth Snow is done for the day, but I'd expect Hickey is done tomorrow. That deal is close.”  The Hickey deal is said to be in the 3yr/$6.5M range.  Soon, the same may be true for F, Brock Nelson.  Nelson has no arbitration rights.



The Islanders will open the July 1st free agency period with the eyes of Isles country fixed upon them.  While I don’t expect much aside from a backup goaltender signing, if the right opportunity presents itself, you could see a wing added to the roster in the next few days.  There is also a chance Snow sticks with the group he has for now.  He has said as much a few times now.



Last season, Boychuk and Leddy weren’t added until the last minute, so it’s reasonable to assume more of the same for Snow and company going into the inaugural season at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.  Per @NHLnumbers, “The Islanders have 11 forwards, 5 defense men, and a goalie signed with almost $13 million in free cap space.” 



The Islanders have options going into next season.  Tomorrow at noon, more of the picture may start to come into focus. 




Just enjoy the ride.





Isles Notes:



Isles extend qualifying offers to six restricted free agents.  Isles RFA, John Persson was not given QO.



Isles announce Blue and White rosters.   



Per Robert Brodsky, “Nassau today issued an RFP to renovate rink at Cantiague Park in Hicksville for @NYIslanders practice facility.  35,000-sq.-ft. two-story building being fast tracked. Work on 1st floor to be done by 1/16; 2nd floor office by 3/16; the rest by 6/15/16."



Doug Weight was not inducted into the HHOF.





Sunday, June 28, 2015

The 2015 NHL Entry Draft, New York Islanders Part 2


On Friday night, Mathew Barzal told Garth Snow, "You guys came outta nowhere" while backstage at the NHL Draft. Snow replied with, "That's what we do".

Snow shocked a lot of people by trading Reinhart and then an additional pick for what later turned out to be two first round picks (Barzal & Beauvillier) for the Isles prospect pool.  After an offensively focused round 1 yesterday, Snow and the Islanders settled in for what could be done to add more defensive system depth in rounds 2 thru 7.


Round 3: 

With the 82nd overall pick, the Islanders selected defenseman Mitchell Vande Sompel.  Vande Sompel had 12 & 51 for 63 points in 58 games with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL.  He was summarized as an undersized (5’10, 185#), but also as a dynamic offensive defenseman who skates well & generates offensive pressure.  Vande Sompel is comfortable in both zones and was seen as one of the best offensive defenseman available in this year’s draft.



Round 4:

With the 112th overall pick, the Isles selected 6’0, 172# defenseman, Parker Wotherspoon of the WHL's Tri-City Americans.  Wortherspoon is known for his strong skating & stickhandling ability.  Other qualities include hockey smarts with a calm and cool style while moving the puck and joining the rush.  He also has no problem stepping up to answer any physical challenges.  He has potential to be a top 4 D-Man capable of developing into a strong power play quarterback. 


Round 5:

With the 147th overall pick, New York selected defenseman, Ryan Pilon of the WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings.  Pilon is the nephew of storied physical defensemen, Rich Pilon and stands at 6’2, 200#.  Known as another solid two-way defenseman with a strong work ethic, Pilon has been called a tenacious & fairly complete D prospect who is capable of stepping up to many challenges.  Pilon has a hard shot and good skating ability that enables him to manage the ice well and make him effective in all 3 zones.



Round 6:

The Islanders made history when they selected defensemen, Andong Song of Lawrenceville School (NJ) with the 172nd pick. Song (6’0, 161#) is the first ever Chinese-born player selected in the NHL Entry Draft.  He captained China at the 2015 U-18 World Jr. Championships (D-II).  Lawrenceville coach Etienne Bilodeau said Song is a steady go-to player on the ice who handles the puck well, has good positioning and is very reliable on both sides of the puck.


Round 7:

With the 202nd overall pick, the Islanders selected 6’1, 176# defenseman, Petter Hansson of Linkoping (Sweden).   Hansson had 15 & 19 for 34 pts in 38 games this past season with Linkoping's Jr. Team and has won a J18 silver & J20 bronze medal.  He was also the top goals and points scorer in the J20 14-15 campaign.




Isles Notes:


Per Arthur Staple, “Isles head scout Trent Klatt on first-rounder Mathew Barzal: "He's a top 5 player in any other draft... He's just really flippin' good."

Former Islander’s prospect, Griffin Reinhart on NYI: “It’s a little bit disappointing but they treated me well, I just wasn’t in their plans.”


Per Hockey Analytics Writer, @garik16, “Isles wind up with prospects ranked in the NHL Nations top 45 at 8, 12, 24, and 32. Pretty damn good.”


Friday, June 26, 2015

The 2015 NHL Entry Draft, New York Islanders Part 1


So Your New York Islanders were not doing much in the first round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, right?


Garth Snow traded D, Griffin Reinhart to the Edmonton Oilers for the 16th and 33rd picks.  Reinhart was selected 4th overall in 2012.


With the 16th overall selection, they chose C, Matthew Barzal.  Barzal is 6’0, 175# and noted as being a highly skilled skater with high end talent and vision that make him a dangerous and dynamically creative player.  Described as “clutch,” his poise with the puck aids his hockey sense and while looking for high percentage passes, utilizes his quick shot.  And is also noted as comfortable jumping in on defense and is a complete two-way player.  Barzal tallied 57 points (12 g, 45 a) in 44 games this past season with the @SeattleTBirds.  The downside could be the question on how Barzal's healed knee will respond moving forward.  This acquisition by Garth Snow is being called a “steal” by many of the broadcast experts, especially after Dougie Hamilton was acquired for the #15, 45 & 52nd picks.  Reinhart cost the Oilers a #16 & 33rd pick with almost no NHL experience.  Think about that.


The buzz on adding Barzal seems to be positive by many of the experts and adds another offensive dimension to what is becoming a talented offensive squad for New York.  While Reinhart was once thought of as a top end defensive prospect in the organization, he seemed to lack mobility at this point and struggled this season in limited action with the team.  According to a source, they (Islanders) moved a player who may not have had the best attitude behind the scenes in Reinhart.  The additions of Boychuk & Leddy along with system depth helped the Isles pull the trigger on this deal.  With the play of Mayfield definitely affecting Reinhart's time with the Islanders, doing more with his opportunities last Season when called upon in my opinion.  And with Barzal still there at 16, Arthur Staple said the Isles made their move for the guy they wanted. 



What or who is next?



Well, a little later in round 1, Garth Snow traded the 33rd and 72nd pick to Tampa Bay for the 28th selection, choosing LW, Anthony Beauvillier.  Oh, and this is one of the picks that the Rangers traded away in the St. Louis deal.  Even better.


Beauvillier is called a dynamic scoring center with good hockey sense. Though smaller at 5’10, 170#, his speed, skill, and cunning are said to make up for his size.  Beauvillier (42& 52 for 94 pts in 67games with Shawnigian) is noted as a tough & talented puck-handler with good hands who can score and block shots well.  He is also credited as equally efficient in the passing game with good on ice vision.
 
 

So time will tell how much of an impact these two players will have for the Isles, but Snow turned Reinhart into two first round picks in what is being considered the deepest in years.

Rounds 2-7 are up tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Islanders Off-Season 2015: Tavares & Preseason In Brooklyn


New York Islanders General Manager, Garth Snow was not named a finalist for GM of the year following the 2014-15 season, despite adding Jaroslav Halak, Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy to help his team achieve the 101 point mark season.  Snow was 5th in voting with 3 first place votes.  While this had some a little confused, your Islanders would be represented at the NHL Awards again this season by team captain, John Tavares.
 

Tavares was nominated for the 2nd time in 3 seasons for the Hart Trophy.  He shared this season’s honor with Carey Price and Alex Ovechkin.


The Hart was awarded to Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens. Tavares finished 3rd in Hart voting by the way.  The last New York Islander to win the trophy was Brian Trottier during the 1978-79 NHL season.


John Tavares had 86 points for the Isles and was instrumental in a breakout season for the new look Islanders. 

 
 
 

Isles announce preseason schedule with three games at @barclayscenter highlighting eight-game calendar.  

 

Date
Visitor
Home
Time (ET)
Arena
Mon. Sept. 21*
Flyers
Islanders
7 p.m.
Barclays Center
Islanders
Flyers
7 p.m.
PPL Center (Allentown, PA)
Wed. Sept. 23
Devils
Islanders
7 p.m.
Barclays Center
Fri. Sept 25*
Islanders
Devils
7 p.m.
Prudential Center
Islanders
Flyers
7 p.m.
Wells Fargo Center
Sat. Sept. 26
Islanders
Hurricanes
6 p.m.
Scotiabank Centre (Halifax, NS)
Mon. Sept 28
Capitals
Islanders
7 p.m.
Barclays Center
Sun. Oct. 4
Islanders
Capitals
5 p.m.
Verizon Center

 




 

Isles Notes:



Isles open the regular season in Brooklyn against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday, October 9th.


Islanders said to be close to a contract extension with D Thomas Hickey.

 
Per Stephen Lorenzo, “Lubomir Visnovsky, who turns 39 in August, is “definitely" going to play next season per his agent. “He really likes Isles, for sure." 

Garth Snow was quoted as saying he did not anticipate bringing Lubo Visnovsky back.


Kyle Okposo trade rumors, per Pierre McGuire: Isles were frustrated with Okposo's playoff performance.


Congratulations to #Isles Captain @91Tavares on being named to the NHL's 2014-15 1st All-Star Team!

 
Jack Capuano was 10th in Adams voting.
 

Anders Lee was 9th in Calder voting.

 

NHL Notes:
 

Board approves 3 on 3 OT, coach’s challenge and the start of NHL expansion process.

 

***   I am just floored with the courage of a kid like Jonathan Pitre. I am humbled just watching his struggle and how amazing his family is.  The Butterfly Child.   ***