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

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Queens, Boulton, Strome and The Fans Speak


On Thursday, the Bloomberg network reported that the Islanders were entertaining a possible move to Queens.  Personally, when compared to some of the rumors I’ve heard in the last year, hearing that the Isles organization was talking with the Mets organization for possible arena development opportunities near Citi Field, it wasn’t as ridiculous a notion.  I usually roll my eyes and scroll past any anti-Barclays or “Isles to move” stories I see around the net, but because of the reporting source and the building momentum of the story, I looked into it.


I know Jon Ledecky was adamant on the Islanders and the Barclays Center partnership when he spoke to the press as an official co-majority owner of the franchise and to a recent “town hall” style meeting with season ticket holders.  "Barclays Center is our home," Ledecky said. "There's all sorts of things out there about playing games [at the Coliseum]. The NHL has a pretty a strict rule that they set the schedule, not us. We have to make Barclays the new home of the Islanders and make it the best experience.”


Now, I am sure that while the organization plans on improving their team and fan experience for their 2nd season in Brooklyn, it makes perfect sense to not acknowledge the rumors for a Queens relocation, but at the same time, it’s beneficial in an off-the-board kind of way for the team to use that press to their PR advantage.  It would address the current non-hockey centric layout and environment at the Barc and suggest a possible relocation that is closer to the former, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum site, that they called home for 43 years.  Not to mention, Brooklyn and the Barclays Center are sure to take notice of any buzz or reaction by the media and fans about the amplified shortcomings (view, seats, ice, security, etc.) there. 


The Islanders and Barclays Center would have an opt-out clause from their 25 year lease agreement after season number four, but that would mean the organization would lose their $53M per season deal to surrender control of business (ticket and mktg.) operations while playing at the Barclays Center unless a similar kind of deal could be struck with a new suitor.


Yesterday, the story gained even more attention after a mention of another possible site for the “project”, rumored to be at a vacant, 28 acre Belmont Park location in Elmont of Nassau County.  Neither the Islanders or the New York Racing Association would comment on a scenario involving this rumor even with a Newsday source saying they have met several times to discuss options on the agreement, despite the fact that other groups (including NY Cosmos) have already submitted bids to develop the same property.


B.D. Gallof posted a few things on Twitter regarding the rumors based on the comments of an Isles source, “Go back to worrying about when/if a trade will be made. This is a non-story."  Another said, “The ice blows at Barclays & every free agent knows it ‘was quoted to me from source who paraphrased former Isles player,” and even another, “IF team ownership decides to leave Brooklyn, being sold to outside interests (eg Quebec, Seattle, etc) WAY more likely.”  So I guess it’s understood that the Brooklyn challenge is on the clock for the Islanders and the team is focused on making improvements and addressing the task at hand, there.


As long as this team is not where the die-hards want them to be in the hockey world, these kinds of rumors will continue to surface.  But some of them may start to lose their steam, especially as the reign of the new ownership progresses with Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin at the helm.  They have impressed me so far with their commentary and a willingness to be available to fans and season ticket holders, even on the arena concourse.  To this point, they have given me no reason to doubt what they have claimed in official statements.


Eric Boulton agrees to a one year, two way deal with the Islanders Organization.  Arthur Staple reported, “Boulton gets $575,000/$150,000 with a guarantee of $200,000.”  Boulton’s character is well known and his locker room presence is said to be valued by his team mates and therefore, by GM, Garth Snow.  That is a good reason to see this seemingly strange move for Boulton, who will be 40 this summer and played in only 6 games for New York Last season.  But not when you consider it as one to keep him in the organizational fold until an advisory or coaching position could be made available when Boulton retires, similar to Matt Carker.


RFA, Ryan Strome didn’t get resigned yet and isn’t arbitration eligible.  Strome found himself in a bit of a struggle last season with 8 and 20 for 28 pts in 71 games with a -9 rating after scoring an impressive 50 points the season before.  He tallied 1 and 4 for 5 points in 8 playoff games.  Despite being sent to Bridgeport last season and being scratched in the playoffs, Strome’s 2015-16 season was a learning experience for him and he kept a strong public appearance when he spoke to the media about his situation.  "It's only going to make you a better player and a better person."  He never spoke negatively about the organization and kept putting the pressure back on himself whenever he had a microphone or recorder in front of him.  Strome is young and still coming into to his own.  I feel he is getting stronger and more experienced with each season, so the Islanders are more likely to keep working with the 5th overall, 2011 pick in the mix unless a major trade, with a very good return, can be engineered for his services.  Even last week, a Strome for Kucherov package trade was rumored to have been discussed, but the Isles and Lightning were too far apart of the final details of the deal to come to an agreement.  It’s all about perceived return for what they are giving up.


Lastly, I asked my followers on Twitter for what they wanted most from the Islanders in the 2016-17 season.  Aside from the “winning the Stanley Cup” answer, they were pretty consistent on their very attainable desires for the team.  Between the tweets and direct messages, the major things were a more intense and stronger effort throughout the season and into the post season.  They demand bigger results from players like Strome, Nelson, Lee and Boychuk and almost all came down to a more consistent team that can legitimately push further in the playoffs.


All of these points are valid and quite expected, but I think that most fans of this team take the time to pay attention to what they bring each and every game and fully invest themselves into what follows each and every final score.  And I am not saying their aren’t those who are quick to panic or those who fly off the handle way too early and often, but their passion and deep appreciation for the crest makes them an attentive, excitable, but long suffering fan base.  Let’s hope the new direction in ownership and continued focus to build a winning team gets us all closer to our expectations of where we want them to be next season.  And I wouldn’t mind another surprise or two this summer.




Isles Notes:


The Islanders will be on NBC for six games next season after a record year from NHL broadcasts on the network last season.



Sound Tigers Notes:


Sound Tigers agree to terms on contracts with F Connor Jones and D Patrick Cullity and Kane Lafranchise.



Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Islanders Re-Sign Quine


Today, our New York Islanders signed another major prospect to a one way NHL contract.  F, Alan Quine, 23 agreed to a 2 year deal ($575K year 1, $650K year 2) with a $612K AAV.  Quine was another Prospect (along with Mayfield) that always caught my attention with his hockey sense and nose for the net while in Bridgeport.  He was first selected by Detroit in the 3rd round of the 2011 Draft, but never signed a contract.  This allowed him to re-enter the draft in 2013, where the Islanders selected him 166th overall in the 6th round.  Quine ranks in the top 10 for career goals (50), assists (87) and points (137) as a Sound Tiger in 3 pro seasons (191 games).


Quine had 38 points in 56 games in the AHL last season.  That got him noticed by Garth Snow and allowed him to make his pro debut in the final 2 games of the season for the Isles. He netted 2 and 4 for 6 points that included a memorable double OT winner against Florida in game 5 of the Islanders 1st round series win. On scoring the goal, Quine said, “It was probably the best moment of my life, to date.”


He played well for New York through the playoffs.  So well, that many speculated the RFA to make the Islanders regular roster this season.  “He’s tenacious,” Tavares said about Quine. “He doesn’t shy away from the moment and the opportunity. It’s not an easy spot when you come in and play your first couple games in the league in the last couple games [of the regular season], then play a pretty significant role in the playoffs. So he’s really been called upon and he’s stepped up.”


Quine is a strong skater who uses his speed and acceleration to open the ice in both zones for himself and his team mates.  He has good hands and should be another exciting addition to the team as a rostered forward.  The rebuild is starting to show its quality and with the loss of Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen, the opportunities for a play-maker like Quine are huge.  We will just have to see what he can make of it.


“Now it’s time to focus on the task at hand.”  Agreed.




Isles Notes:


Per Jim Baumbach, “(Jon) Ledecky did NOT commit to six game plan at new Coliseum. Says that's up to NHL and was deal with others (Wang, Ratner) no longer involved.”

“Ledecky also threw some cold water on the idea that the Sound Tigers would move to Nassau.”

“Lots of talk about ways to improve Brooklyn experience. Said something to effect of, when you have a home, you work to fix it, not move."


Islander and Sound Tiger, Matt Carkner retired from playing pro hockey and will stay as a coach with the BST.



Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Islanders Agree To Terms With Scott Mayfield


Today, our New York Islanders announced that they have come to terms on a 2yr/$625K AAV, one-way contract with D, Scott Mayfield.  Mayfield was the Islanders 2nd round, 34th overall selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and spent much of his time (200 games) with Bridgeport of the AHL.  Prior to his time in the Pros, Mayfield played 81 games with the University of Denver and the Phantoms of the United States Hockey League.


Mayfield is 6’4, 224# and knows how to play a hard checking, gritty defensive game.  He is no stranger to throwing the body either. He has made an impression with me while in Bridgeport (5 & 7 for 12 pts last season in 54 games) and has shown flashes of a tough to play against, blue liner in his short stint as an NHL defender during regular season and playoff appearances.  I’m sure new Islander, Jason Chimera remembers the way Mayfield sent him flying in a game 6 victory vs the Caps in 2015.  He even managed to get a goal in 6 games with the Islanders last season. 


Mayfield is part of New York’s future plan on defense and we all expect Ryan Pulock to start showing what he can do very soon.  And do not underestimate the value that Adam Pelech can bring.  Pelech is another BST system standout who made a stabilizing difference in the Isles line up as recently as last season (2 assists - vs Rangers - in 9 games) until a bout of thoracic outlet syndrome slowed down his momentum.


Andy Graziano mentioned that the “Isles now have top 8 D-men signed, 2 on 2-way deals (Pulock/Pelech) who are also waiver exempt.”  These young D have all shown to be smart, physical and pretty impressive in their limited time with the Islanders.  Unless more unexpected moves are made, that looks to be the blue line for next season and these 3 young players are big D guys I am looking forward to watching with the big club.



Scott Mayfield shared this on Twitter, “Excited to be back with the Isles organization for the next two years!”


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

KoC Isles 2016 Free Agency, Part 3


With the likes of Ilya Sorokin and the other guys (Eamon McAdam, Linus Soderstrom and Stephon Williams) in the Isles system, the Islanders goal-tending prospects look really strong for the future.  But the play of 24 year old Jean-Francois Berube (2009, 4th round, 95th overall pick for LA) certainly got him noticed with the chance to show what he could do with the Islanders right now.  Berube was 3-2-1 (2.71gaa & a .914Sv%) with New York last season after being claimed off waivers from the Kings last year.  The standout AHL net minder led the league in wins (37) and his Monarchs' team to a 13 win Calder Cup championship run in 2015.  Today, Garth Snow signed the arbitration eligible, RFA to a one-way, $675K NHL deal to once again make Berube the 3rd goaltender on the Islanders roster.  While Snow has used multiple goalies several times in his tenure as Isles GM, this may be more than just a safety measure for New York.  

Jaroslav Halak was huge for New York [career highs in games (59), minutes (3550) & wins (38)] in the 2014-15 campaign and made it known that he didn’t like being 1 of 3 guys in net.  "I like it here, but they just have to decide which way they want to go for next season," said Halak. "J-F is a young goalie, Greisser played well all season long. So we'll see."  Halak missed several games while day-to-day or on the IR last season as the Isles starting goaltender, including the final 17 games of the year and did not appear in the playoffs due to a nagging groin injury.  So for now, JF Berube gets to use another year as a rostered regular to show the new ownership what he can do.  Thomas Greiss had the same shot last year and he made the most of it.  



What will Berube do with his first full season audition?





Sound Tigers Notes:



Ryan Strome and Alan Quine are RFA’s that remain unsigned from the Isles roster last season.


Per Michael Fornabaio, “The Bridgeport Sound Tigers announced today that forwards Kellen Jones, Josh Winquist and Aaron Berisha, as well as defenseman Luke Juha have agreed to terms on one-year American Hockey League contracts.”



Saturday, July 2, 2016

KoC Isles 2016 Free Agency, Part 2


We all thought that Snow had a move or two more he would make heading into next season for the Islanders.  Yesterday, he added Ladd, Chimera and re-signed Prince after losing Okposo, Nielsen and Martin to free agency.  Today, the Isles acquired another player to try and better their veteran team chemistry.  PA Parenteau signed a $1.25M, 1 year deal and if he stays healthy, he could be a solid addition to the team.


It will be Parenteau’s second stint with New York (38 and 82 for 120 points in 161 games).  During his initial tour, Parenteau did well playing on a line with John Tavares (and Matt Moulson) and even managed 20 and 21 for 41 points in 77 games playing for Toronto last season.  His 20 goal total last season matched a career high set when he last played with the Islanders (2010-11) and added another career high 67 point total in his final season with the team (2012-13).  After his time in New York, Parenteau was no longer seen as a career minor leaguer and joined the Avalanche, Canadiens (by trade) and Maple Leafs.  After a slump with Montreal and a bounce back year with a struggling Toronto squad, Parenteau could be due for another statement year with the team that jumpstarted his career.  While there is no guarantee on the quality of his return performance, the signing could just be a solid addition by Snow.  If not, it’s a one year deal that won’t set the team back financially.


By adding Parenteau, the Isles still have around $6M remaining before they reach the cap ceiling.  I doubt you will see another addition by free agency, but one could be possible via trade.



In any event, the roster continues to take shape for the 2016-17 season.



Isles Notes:


Rumors from @incarciratedbob had the Isles looking into Duchene, but the cost was Dal Colle, Pulock and Nelson.


Friday, July 1, 2016

KoC Isles 2016 Free Agency, Part 1


After a busy Wednesday that Saw Steven Stakos re-signing with the TBL, coveted forward Taylor Hall traded to the Devils for Adam Larsson and a swap of PK Subban for Shea Weber in less than a half hour, Isles country was up in arms about nothing moving in the right direction for their team.  Rumors first reported by B.D. Gallof had the Isles in dealings for Hall, but hearing Edmonton liked Larsson better. While Hall would have looked good playing in Brooklyn, it was not to be.


On Thursday night, Arthur Staple reported that Andrew Ladd chose to stay the night on the Island after touring the facilities for New York with rumors that a multiyear deal was already discussed.  And @incarceratedbob had Frans Nielsen already agreeing in principle to go to the wings on the eve free agency. Elliotte Friedman confirmed that talks had broken off between the Islanders and Nielsen’s camp an hour before the start of free agency.  Kyle Okposo and the team were seemingly way off on a deal, so rumors of Okposo walking were already out there and after the new deal for Cizikas, the chances to bring back Matt Martin with a raise just weren't realistic. Arthur Staple reported, “Isles will lose 1,573 games of franchise experience with Okposo, Nielsen and Martin leaving today. Big changes.”  IMO, the biggest loss will be Frans Nielsen.  His leadership and contributions in scoring, special teams and defensive awareness have been big for the team over his 10 year tenure with the team.


Andy Grazziano tweeted that “Isles head into today with around 15.4 in cap space. RFA still to sign for big club (Prince, Strome, Berube, possibly Quine).  The formula for signing quality veteran players always involves both money and term, so you have to consider that when the deals break.  Seeing what the rest of the league has done and for what cost will usually be how you will judge what your team has done.  So what was going to happen at the start of free agency on July 1st for our New York Islanders under the watch of the team’s new majority ownership?


The Islanders have come to terms with two time Stanley Cup winner, 6’3, 200# Andrew Ladd on a $38.5M, (5.5AAV) 7 year deal.  That’s a good price for a good player.  Now it’s a longer term than many would like, but that was probably the thing that made the deal with New York.  The 30 year old Ladd has scored 20 goals in five of the last six seasons.  Ladd’s leadership and heads up play on the ice will definitely help John Tavares and company push for a cup next season.  Ladd had 25 & 21 for 46 points in 78 games with Winnipeg and Chicago last season and if he does play with Tavares, you know those numbers will be better.  Per Darren Dreger, “Signing bonus for Ladd. $7mil,$6.5,$5,$4,$3,$3,$3. No move first two years. No trade next 2. Ltd no trade last 3.”


6’2, 205#, 37 yr old Jason Chimera has been signed on a 2 year deal with the Islanders for $4.5M ($2.25AAV).  Chimera is a feisty and quick forward who scored an impressive 40 points with Washington last season.  Chimera will be a good replacement for Matt Martin and should contribute offensively and in the room.




UPDATE:

The Islanders re-signed RFA, Shane Prince to a 2 year deal worth $850K.  Prince, 23, was 6 & 11 for 17 points in 42 games with the Islanders and Ottawa Senators. The Islanders acquired Prince at the 2016 trade deadline where he contributed 2 & 3 for 5 points in 20 games with the Isles and tallied 3 & 1 for 4 points four points in 11 Playoff games.



With the move, the Islanders now have an estimated $6M in cap space with 12F/7D/2G per @capfriendly.  


Per Arthur Staple, “Snow also said he could see Isles adding another forward before the season, either in FA or trade. Tavares/Nelson/Strome/Cizikas set at C.”


Losing major players like Okposo, Nielsen and Martin, the Isles needed to replace them and try to improve.  Per Arthur Staple, “Garth Snow on Ladd/Chimera signings: "We’re extremely happy with where we're at today. We feel we’ve gotten better … It's not a knock on anyone that was here last year... We wish all three of those guys (Okposo/Nielsen/Martin) the best."  Kyle Okposo was asking more to stay with the Isles, not less and he finally got his front loaded contract to max out with Buffalo.  Staple tweeted “Believe Nielsen gets $30 million for six years with DET. Isles had offered seven years at slightly more total.”  That’s sounds like Okposo and Nielsen wanted out to me.  And it sounded like the Isles drew a line and stood fast.  In the end, these guys will be missed.  Kypreos asked Nielsen if the move to Brooklyn factored into his decision to leave and Niesen said “No, not at all ... It's tough leaving NY, but in the end I felt like it was time to try something new here."  Matt Martin signed with Toronto later in the day on a 2 year deal worth $2.5M AAV.  He was commented on saying what a "hard decision" it was to sort trough the offers and he had a pit in his stomach all day.


Overall, a pretty good first day based on the players that were available.  Garth Snow added some veteran skill and character with some financially responsible deals.  Eric Hornick points out, “Ladd/Chimera scored 45 goals last season; Okposo/Nielsen 42.”  The Islanders still have several options to tweak their squad over the course of the summer and into the pre-season.  Opportunities are always there to make trades to try and add well-fitting talent and alter cap-space.  They need Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome to improve and also to see how players like Beauviller, Barzal or Ho-Sang do in camp.


What’s next for the Islanders?  With these two moves, the Isles still have cap space left and I am sure there could be more to come by way of a trade or two.




Let’s all hurry up and wait.





Isles Notes:



Kyle Okposo signed with Buffalo (7yrs, $42M), Frans Nielsen with Detroit (6yrs, $30M).



Brian Strait signed a 1-year deal with Winnipeg.


In other news, Michael Grabner is apparently a New York Ranger.


Isles prospects met at the Northwell Health Ice Center for the annual Blue and White scrimmage on Wednesday.  The guys were broken up into three teams for a round robin format before a packed house.  Ho-Sang, Beauvillier and Sorokin stood out amongst the promising group.







Monday, June 27, 2016

The Isles 2016 Draft: A Left Wing Thing


Our New York Islanders went into last week’s NHL Entry Draft with a purpose.  And apparently, it was to add depth to their system.  I am sure many fans, including this one hoped the Isles would package picks with other assets for a trade to try and upgrade their roster immediately.  It’s entirely possible that those deals just weren’t there for them, so they did the draft thing and acquired the prospects that addressed their need.  That was Left Wings.


In the first round, with the 19th pick, the Isles selected 6’1, 195# Kieffer Bellows of the USA National Team Development Program.  Kieffer is the son of former NHL’er, Brian Bellows, so he grew up around professional hockey and probably gets a tip or two from Dad on his game from time to time.  The physical, 50 goal scorer (31 assists) is noted for his puck handling ability and strong skating per elite prospects.  He is also known for his fore check and his ability to control the flow of a game, which could explain why Bellows was rated 10th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.  So it’s safe to assume Bellows will have some time to develop a little more in the Isles system after his Boston University commitments.  I would imagine that fans should get to see him showcase his wares at this year’s Blue and White scrimmage. 


It’s worth mentioning that my 1st round choice for the Isles, Julien Gauthier was drafted two picks later by the Carolina Hurricanes.



Garth Snow added five more picks on day two.  He mostly stayed the left wing course with two picks in the 4th, one in the 6th and 2 in the 7th, adding a D-Man with the last pick of the draft.  


Snow traded the Isles 110th pick along with a 2017 6th rounder to Chicago for the 95th to select a former WJ Russian silver medalist, 21 year old named Anatoli Golyshev.  The 5’8, 178#, Golyshev has 3 years of KHL experience (and is still under contract thru 2019) that includes a career highs of 25 and 19 for 44 points in 56 games (with most at even strength) playing for Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg.  Let’s see if he can shake the small, Russian stigma and get a chance to make an impact for New York in their system.


The Islanders traded up with Philadelphia to acquire the 120th selection for a 2017, 4th rounder to draft 6’4, 219#, 17 year old Finn, Otto Koivula.  With a career high 58 points last season and another 12 in playoff competition, Koivula must have been the choice to management.  There is hopes that he can use his on-ice vison and accurate shot to make some as he develops over-seas, while improving his mobility.


With the 170th pick, the Isles choose Collin Adams of the USHL.  As another smaller sized forward at 5.9, 172#, Adams played big and got noticed last season by being named to the USHL All-Rookie 1st Team.  He did so by scoring 27 and 34 for 61 points in 59 games.  Adams has a standing commitment to play for North Dakota next season.  He is known for his leadership qualities, both on and off the ice and one of those “heavy” shots we love to hear about.


Nick Pastujov was added to the Islanders system with pick #193.  Pastujov (6’0, 199#) tallied 21 points in 60 games for the U18, Bronze Medal US National Team and has a commitment to play for the University of Michigan next season.  He was apparently fishing when he heard the news that he was drafted by New York.


With their final pick of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, the Islanders went defensive and brought 5’8, 181# David Quenneville into the organizational fold.  With the Tigers of the WHL, Quenneville scored 14 and 44 for 55 points and models his game after the Kings, Drew Doughty.  He has two brothers in NHL organizations.  New Jersey Devils 2014, first-rounder John Quenneville and Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Peter Quenneville.


After stockpiling prospects at the draft, we can probably assume the Islanders are shifting their focus at add the “win-now” talent they need at the start of free agency.  It should be interesting to see if any trades happen before then or if the team is content to wait and make their offers to specific targets on July 1st. If Snow can’t make a splash at that time, he may be looking for trades later in the summer and before the start of next season like the ones he orchestrated for Boychuk and Leddy.





What are your plans for Friday?




###





You are irreplaceable.


R.I.P. Ares