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

Sunday, June 25, 2017

New York Islanders Off-Season: The Islanders 2017 NHL Entry Draft Review

Our New York Islanders had no action on day 1 of the NHL Entry Draft after they traded the 15th overall to VGK a few days ago for “protection” in the Expansion Draft. They entered day 2 of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft with 4 picks and a desire to add talent to their system. Per Erick Hornick, “#Isles currently have 4 picks in this weekend's draft: 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 7th (all their own). Fewest picks NYI ever made is 5 – 2007.”

With the 46th pick, the Islanders selected D, Robin Salo. The 6’, 185# left shooting defensemen from Vaasan Sport (SM-Liiga) is known for the solid skill set showcased in the Finnish Elite league. There, Salo was a top pairing, shut down D-Man with an offensive upside. He has even played the role of forward when called upon and was awarded the league’s the top scoring rookie title. He has been called a position-ally sound defensemen that starts and joins the rush well, but needs work on his skating and footwork.

The Islanders chose D Benjamin Mirageas from Chicago Steel of the USHL with the 77th selection. Mirageas is a 6’1, 174#, left shooting D that helped Chicago turn the tide, en-route to its first ever 2016-17 Clark Cup Championship. Noted as a good pass making D-man, Mirageas has play making ability and works hard. It is noted that he has been improving in his on-ice decision making and working at refining his overall play.

D, Sebastian Aho from Skelleftea AIK of the Chamions HL joins the Islanders system after being selected 139th. The 5’10, 176# left shooting, mobile defensemen with high hockey IQ and ability to read the opposition well. He is a strong skater who moves the puck and can be relied on in any scenario. Per Arthur Staple, “Kautonen said 5th-round D Sebastian Aho, who is already 21 and just finished his fourth pro year in Sweden, could play in BPT next season.”

The LA Kings traded the 165th pick to Isles for a 6th rounder in 2018. With it, the Isles selected 5’11, 181#, Halifax LW Arneaud Durandeau. Durandeau is noted for his speed and having a good shot to go along with his feisty, agitating style of play. He’s a PP specialist who possesses strong stick skills and passing ability. He moves the puck well and is always ready to jump into the play. He tends to be a little undisciplined and his active stick racks up PIMs.

With the 201st pick, the Isles select LW Logan Cockerill of USNTDP. Cockerill is small at 5’9, 163#, but the quick, hardworking winger works hard in a 3 zones and checks hard. Is known for strong two-way game and PK skills and good vision of the ice. He needs work on puck skills and scoring touch.

The Islanders must be happy with their goal-depth and went with what they felt was most needed in the system based on their faith in Sorokyn and Soderstrom and the low number of picks. Per Arthur Staple, “Asked #Isles head scout Vellu Kautonen about G Linus Soderstrom: ‘One more year in Sweden and I think we have an NHL goaltender’ … Also asked Kautonen about G Ilya Sorokin. Still hopeful Sorokin will come to North America after next season/Olympics, but not a sure thing.”

The Draft seemed a little low key, based on anticipation of a “big” Travis Hamonic trade, but we can finally look ahead to free agency.

I feel the need for a top forward is still a thing the Isles need to address to stay relevant in the eyes of John Tavares and the race to be better. Time will tell if a deal for a Matt Duchene or Alex Galchenyuk type of player is possible, but the cost seems to be too high. There will be short term UFA options open as well. Hanzal, Gagner or even Jagr could make sense if the opportunity is there and the need arises. Whatever happens, something solid needs to be done to shure up the Isles forwards until prospects like Barzal are ready to make noise. The Metro is a tough division and the teams around the Isles are getting better. The Isles need to keep up.

“This was a situation that we felt we could capitalize on bringing in some assets, whether we use those in the future in the draft or use them as a currency in a future player transaction,” per Garth Snow. “I don’t envision anything happening here in the next two days but that can always change,” he said. “We feel like we have a good hockey team. We have a team that’s built for now and for the future. You look at our prospects and the draft picks and we also have the ability to use some of those assets to bring in a player that can improve our club in the near-term.

Per Arthur Staple on the stalled deal for Duchene, “Two league sources said Pat Brisson, Duchene’s agent (also the agent for John Tavares), is seriously unhappy with Sakic’s foot-dragging on a deal. That could lead to a reduced price tag later on should Snow still be interested.”

Snow is “100% inclined” to use any available assets to improve the Islanders for next season. Hopefully, other GM’s will be as inclined.

Isles Notes:

Jordan Eberle will wear #7 for the Islanders.

Per Kevin Dexter, “24 #NHL players have scored 20 or more goals in each of the last 4 seasons. #Isles now have 3 of them - Tavares, Ladd & Eberle.”

The Isles 2017-18 schedule has been announced.

Jack Capuano has been named an associate coach by the Florida Panthers

Saturday, June 24, 2017

New York Islanders Off-Season: Islanders Trade Travis Hamonic to Calgary Flames for Picks

The event of the week was the impending trade of Travis Hamonic. Since the deadline, Matt Duchene was the number 1 target on the Isles list. The price was said to be too high, so it didnt happen. Rumors had Sakic turning down Hamonic, MDC (assuming) and a 2018 1st for Duchene as late as yesterday, so the Isles would look elsewhere. Toronto and Calgary were very interested in Hamonic at the open of NHL Entry Draft, day 2. Talks of a deal with Toronto was rumored to lose traction when JVR was apparently not willing to waive his no-trade and talk extension. Around 11 a.m., Elliotte Friedman mentioned Calgary had made a deal with New York. Hamonic said he wanted to play in western Canada last year and now he will. The news came out that Hamonic's Mother is not doing well once again and the need to relocate was probably behind his trade. Travis Hamonic on Garth Snow, "Garth is probably one of the most loyal, if not the most loyal, people I've met in my lifetime so far." A post trade interview can be found here.

Class Act and longtime Islanders D, Travis Hamonic goes to Calgary with Isles 4th round selection in ‘19, for Calgary’s 1st round pick in ‘18, and two 2nds. A 2nd in ’18 and a 2nd in’19 or ’20, conditions apply and an "exclusively future return," per Staple, while Flames also get a ’19 or ‘20 4th round pick back, conditions apply. It takes $4M off their cap ($9.5M cap space) to sign RFA de Haan and aid in their pursuit of an elite forward. It wasn’t exactly the 2 first round picks Snow wanted, but it was close. Hamonic (3 years left at $3.857 per) leaves the Islanders with 3 and 11 in 49 games last season. 26 goals and 120 assists in 444 career games.

I wasn’t OK with the trade if Snow only got a couple of picks for a tough, passionate and sound Hamonic, unless they were components for a part of a bigger trade to come to get that elusive top rung center. It’s also important to remember that Hamonic has had 2 rough years and may be on the decline.

The Isles blue line looks like this. Leddy, Boychuk, de Haan, Seidenberg & Hickey. Ryan Pulock now has a real opportunity to make the team out of camp and more will be expected of Adam Pelech and Scott Mayfield for sure. Do not forget about Devon Toews, especially after the year he had with the BST.

We need to see how the rest of the day goes and remember the July 1st free agency is coming up. We need to see what comes out of it before initial judgement can be passed. 

That's not saying I don't think you have a right to be a little nervous or concerned. There is a lot at stake.

My full draft recap should be up by tomorrow. Thanks.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

New York Islanders Off-Season: Islanders Acquire Eberle for Strome

Garth Snow made a few waves yesterday and he didnt stop today.  In the first major event of the day following the expansion draft, our New York Islanders acquired Jordan Eberle from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Ryan Strome. Eberle scored 51 points (20 & 31) in 82 games last season. It's his 4th straight season of scoring 20 goals or more (28, 24,25,20) and has tallied 382 points in his 7 seasons as an Oiler. The 27 year old Eberle comes to the Islanders with a $6M cap hit over Strome at $2.5M. This and any other moves to be made, made it necessary for Garth Snow to move Grabovski’s $5M out of New York’s cap. He also plays at a higher level and is strong on the power play. Something the Islanders desperately need.

"We're excited to add a proven offensive weapon like Jordan to our lineup," said Snow. "He brings speed and a knack for scoring not only consistently, but scoring big goals, in big games. Jordan brings leadership and experience into our room, qualities that will continue to help us build towards our goals of being a consistent playoff contender and winning the Stanley Cup."   

Jordan Eberle was Edmonton’s 22nd overall selection in the 2008 National Hockey League Entry Draft. As an alternate Captain for the Oil and a 2 time All-Star, Eberle should help the Islanders with the skill, leadership and depth they need in a player slotted as a top 6 forward. Internationally, Eberle won a Gold with John Tavares at the WJC tournament in 2009 and helped Canada to a Silver with an MVP performance in 2010.

We all know how good Ryan Strome can be. But the truth is that he has struggled with consistency and of the talented young forwards, would most likely be the one to be moved. Strome (Isles 5th overall pick in 2011) leaves the Islanders with 126 points in 4 NHL seasons. When the team needs to take the next step, its hard as a fan to see certain players move on, but it takes an asset to gain one. Eberle seems to be a better fit for the Islanders and if his chemistry meshes, should thrive on the 1st or 2nd line. It is well documented that Eberle and new Isles assistant coach, Kelly Buchberger have a not-so-rosy history, but that shouldn’t matter moving forward. Its Doug Weight’s team and Eberle can come to another top market and continue his career making a bigger name for himself in New York with long-time friend, John Tavares and revel in a change of scenery. He makes a difference on the ice and as it stands now, an upgrade offensively for the Islanders.

Eberle: "I'm super excited to be a part of the Islanders organization. Also grateful for the chance the Oilers gave me coming into the NHL ... The Islanders are a storied franchise, a lot of winning past. You want to bring that love of the game back to the fans … The Islanders are a tough team to play against and have a lot of potential. I'm excited to be part of that."

The rumors for Duchene, Galchenyuk, Neal and JVR continue to swirl. I like the trade, but is Snow done? 

Probably not.

Isles Notes:

Per Pierre LeBrun: "I don't sense any urgency, that they feel they have to move Travis Hamonic. But I think they'll do it for the right move."

Per Bob McKenzie: "There's word on the street that maybe the #Isles are asking for as much as two first-round picks" for Hamonic.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

New York Islanders Off-Season: Islanders and the Expansion Draft Results

The NHL expansion draft results were infused throughout the NHL awards tonight. Fans of all the NHL teams waited to see who was lost from their team and what trades went down. The first thing to consider was who was on your teams protected list. And who was not.

The New York Islanders Protected list looked like this:

Ladd, Lee, Tavares, Boychuk, Hamonic, Leddy, Pelech, Pulock, Greiss. That’s 3 forwards, 5 D and a goalie not named Halak. As discussed, Vegas could select up to one player from each of the 30 NHL teams.

Isles Twitter went nuts after that list was released over the weekend. Pelech! Pelech over de Haan! But as the days passed, and rumors swelled, it seemed Garth Snow may come out of this week looking a little smooth with the moves he apparently put in motion. With so many fans ready to storm the gates already, it was something a lot of us needed to see and process going into next season. That included John Tavares I assume, who is now rumored to be willing to enter next season without an extension, to see how things really start to come together.

Back to those rumors starting last weekend:

Later on Saturday, Darren Dreger made it worse (or better), “…Snow is in a number of conversations, hoping to land a top 6 forward. Team to watch.”

“Montreal and the Islanders tell me they're done for the day. Potentially, two big players next week.”

Buzz of the Islanders in talks with Montreal for Alex Galchenyuk broke the surface prior to the trade freeze last Saturday at 3 p.m. Couple that with the ever-present Duchene, Eberle and even Landeskog rumors, and fans were calming down a little at the possibilities of adding this level of talent to the team. The fears of what it would cost the Islanders to land players of these calibers were also prominent. Players like Hamonic, Hickey, de Haan, Cizikas and Bailey were just a few being talked about. It was just a matter of time to see how all of these things started to shake out.

George McPhee and the Vegas Golden Knights were permitted to start dealing w teams during the freeze. In the expansion format, there was nothing keeping McPhee from taking “bribes” from the other 30 teams to “protect” and/or steer Vegas into selecting players of their choice in the Expansion Draft. I also expected teams could say, “Hey I like that guy from their unprotected list. If you were to select him, we’d give you X.” I also assumed the side deals would be many. Pierre LeBrun mentioned, “My understanding is that VGK have secured via trades about 10 draft picks spread out over 3 years. So far anyway. Plus there are deals for players and three-way trades VGK also involved in. Some revealed tonight. Others tomorrow.”

Rumors from all-over had Garth Snow and the Islanders giving up the 15th pick and a player/prospect to be named later to Vegas so they would select Nikolay Kulemin, and/or perhaps take on the remaining salary of injured, Mikhail Grabovski. It also sounded like it was intended to “protect” other exposed forwards from being selected. This would enable the Islanders to free up to a possible $9M of cap space to pursue “prime” target acquisitions in the coming weeks, protect valued assets and move players they felt were movable. McPhee has a history with Snow, being his first agent during his playing days and serving as an advisor prior to landing the GM role with Vegas. Don’t forget that the Cap range will go from $55.4M to a ceiling of $75M for next season.

The players protected or the bribes paid were most likely part of a master plan. Snow has a list of players to keep, shed and possibly dangle as the team tries to upgrade for next season. Those players kept away from the grasp of Vegas could be kept, or be put in-play for big trades to follow. And who really knows how many moving parts this plan really has until it reveals itself. Trade scenarios are often evolving, depending on who may come into and out of the market at the time of choosing. The trade dominos will start to fall on Thursday morning, but the real picture will Start to take shape after the first few days on free agency, starting July 1st.

Here’s what actually went down on Wednesday night at the expansion draft for the Islanders:

This afternoon, Bob McKenzie stated the Isles expansion deal with Vegas was the Isles 1st round pick this year (15th overall) AND often injured, Mikhail Grabovski ($5M hit for this season) to have Vegas select UFA, JF Berube as the player claimed from New York. The Isles will also send Vegas their 2nd round selection in 2019 and D prospect Jake Bischoff. A price well worth the extra that Snow paid for the Isles to look ahead to the NHL Entry Draft and open to Free Agency.

Garth Snow did some maneuvering to free up significant cap space held by Grabovski and to off load JF Berube, an unrestricted free agent who was not getting resigned for the upcoming season anyway to Vegas. This is a great first step for Snow who is rumored to have more things drop over the next few days with most assets in tact. Isles country will be paying attention after the trade freeze is lifted at 8 a.m. tomorrow. That’s for sure.

The other news to come out of Vegas were the new Adidas Jersey reveal for all 31 teams next season. The New York Islanders kept their traditional look mostly intact. The only differences I saw were a more ornate collar on each version and a blue ring around the logo on the white jersey. They look pretty nice.

Isles Notes:

The Islanders will strt off in Columbus on October 6th with their 2017-18 home opener is against the Buffalo Sabers on Saturday, October 7th at 7 p.m. Full schedule will be released tomorrow, 6/22.

Jack Capuano was rumored to be in line for an assistant coaching position with the Sabers. Stay tuned.

Travis Hamonic is the 2017 NHL Foundation Player Award winner.

Per Greg Wyshynski, “NHL says we'll have 24-26 teams with @adidas third jerseys for 2018-19 season. Some old designs, some completely new.”

The Belmont Park redevelopment will be on the agenda for a public hearing in July.

Per NY Post, “The owners of the New York Islanders have been trying to sell a minority stake in the NHL club for months — but have not had any luck, The Post has learned. The owners, Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin, are looking to sell a 15 percent stake at a $500 million valuation, three sources close to the situation said.”

Per B.D. Gallof, “minority investor story: All about cash infusion: if new arena materializes will need $ as revenue takes massive hit in Bridge years.”

Per Renaud Lavoie, “Alexei Yashin is in Vegas. Could get involved with the Golden Knights as a minority owner.”

Sound Tigers Notes:

Travis St. Denis will return on an AHL deal in 2017-18. 

Kyle Okposo could be ready for Sabres Camp.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

New York Islanders Off-Season: KoC 2017 Entry & Expanison Draft Preview

John Tavares is willing to wait in order to sign with the New York Islanders. He likes it here and has always been a team guy, but he also wants to win. His agent, Pat Brisson, mentioned that he and his client like the way the off-season has gone so far for the organization based on the changes with the coaching staff. They are probably waiting to see how the roster will look as the July 1st open to the free agency period gets closer. Per Arthur Staple, “If -- and that's a big if -- the #Isles decide to trade Tavares, there's about a 0.0 percent chance they deal with a team in the division. Meanwhile, nothing has been decided with Tavares. Still hearing he's leaning towards staying.” B.D. Gallof adds, “I'll say it again ... according to #isles teammates, JT will re-sign. Take it for what it’s worth. (lot more than rumor du jour, I think).”

As many speculate, the Isles will probably trade/package their 1st round pick (15th overall) for an impact player. And for the first time in quite a while, several of the Isles 2017 picks could be traded to sweeten a deal or two for players they feel are ready to help them improve, right now. That doesn’t mean there is no chance they draft a prospect that is on their list, I’m just saying picks should be far less important this year because John Tavares, the ownership and the rest of Isles country want to win now.

Rumors swirling around Jordan Eberle or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins from Edmonton and Isles favorite fan target, Matt Duchene from Colorado have been bouncing around since the season deadline came and went. At the time, it was said the price was too high for either player to be added to the Islanders roster. Will that change next week? I am more of a Duchene fan, but the cost should be steep. Per @NHLRumorsDaily, “From what I've been hearing, Avs and Isles talked centered around a Barzal and Hamonic for Duchene deal … Folks, im giving you what I hear and stand by what my sources tell me. NYI have an offer for Duchene and its just Hamonic as far as i know.” Gord Miller of TSN says the Isles are front runners. There also seems to be a cool-down on Eberle, “Hearing talks between NYI & EDM have cooled down. EDM not willing to give up RNH just yet, but NYI still keen on just Eberle.” And the Kovalchuk rumors have swirled about the metro-area since he announced he may want to play in the NHL again. Per Arthur Staple on Kovalchuk, “#Isles not interested either, from what I've heard.” That’s a good thing to me. And I'm sure there are a slew of targets off most of our collective radar.

The New York islanders have the 1st round/15th selection, 2nd/46th, 3rd/77th, 5th/139th, 7th/201st picks in the NHL Entry Draft in Chicago on Friday, 6/23 and Saturday, 6/24. Focusing on the first round, there are a few good options available for New York to replace a few likely-to-transition players like Josh Ho-Sang, Adam Pelech & Scott Mayfield, especially with expansion implications in-play.

My KoC list of possible players Isles can draft with the 15th pick:

1) Martin Necas, C, Kometa Brno (Czech), 6’0 – 169#
A strong, fast skater with good ability to open the ice and create scoring opportunities on net or to a team-mate. Captained the Czech Repulic at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup, netting 6 points in the tourney.

2) Juuso Valimaki, LD, Tri-City (WHL), 6’2, 201#
Strong, two-way, dependable D-Man who can give big minutes and add an offensive threat to the rush. He is known for his vision and playmaking ability.

3) Ryan Poehling, C, St. Cloud State (NCHC), 6’3, 185#
A very smart and quick forward who can change the flow and tilt of a game instantly. Creates offensive opportunities out of nothing with strong skating and is hard to separate from the puck.

4) Nicholas Suzuki, C, Owen Sound Attack (OHL), 5’11, 183#
Smallish Center who is improving each season. A gifted passer, known for a combination of hockey IQ, skating prowess and calm under pressure. Known as an “underrated finisher.”

5) Lias Andersson, C-LW, HV71 (SWE), 5’11, 198#
A gritty, two-way forward, an excellent skater that is quick off the line and highly mobile. Good at creating chances and has good hands. Strong work ethic and natural leader.

The last time the New York Islanders were slotted at pick number fifteen, Snow picked Ryan Pulock at the 2013 Draft. I expect a possibility of moving some later picks along with prospects or rostered players over the next few weeks to make deals happen. I’m not saying they will trade all of them either. They usually always draft a goaltender and a defensemen to replenish the prospect pool in the system. OHL D-Man Lyle Brady could be a 2nd round target and Dylan Coghlan may still be available in the 3rd round when the Isles are scheduled to select. As far as goaltenders, I like OHL Memorial Cup winner, Michael DiPietro (not related) a lot, but I suspect he will be taken earlier than the Isles can select him. He was awarded the HAP EMMS Memorial Trophy as “Outstanding Goaltender” and also named to the Memorial Cup All-Star team. Stuart Skinner (WHL) might not be around either. That would be because the big, athletic, goal scoring netminder has been called one of the most exciting prospects since Carey Price. His disappointing performance at last spring’s U18 tournament might help him slide into the Islanders grasp and only add to the Isles already strong goaltending depth.

The NHL Expansion Draft will be on Wednesday, June 21st. The Vegas Golden Knights have the option to poach quality players from the other 30 teams in the league and they should be competitive right from the start. At least when they find their chemistry. Under the expansion selection rules, each of the 30 NHL teams will lose exactly one player to the Vegas Golden Knights. Some teams have asked lower claim-risk, older or higher paid players with a no-move clause in their contract, to wave them in order to protect other key, non-protected players, based on the risk they would be more likely claimed by Las Vegas. To my knowledge, the Isles didn’t ask any players waive their no-move clause. The Islanders went through a similar process when they came into the NHL in 1972.

Certain GM’s may already have a relationship with Golden Knights GM, George McPhee. Garth Snow and he know each other well, and Snow may be able to broker a deal that involves prospects or picks that might keep McPhee away from a rostered player that Snow may want to retain, or even trade for a more important team asset. Islanders defensemen, Calvin de Haan and to a lesser extent, Thomas Hickey have been the chosen targets of several analysists in the hockey world to be sought by the Vegas Golden Knights from the Islanders. I believe all teams can protect (seven forwards, three defensemen or eight skaters. I’d say based on value (and NMC), the Isles will protect players they expect would be taken based on overall value, skill, etc. A commonly seen and probable list of possibilities include John Tavares, Andrew Ladd, Anders Lee, Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome, Casey Cizikas, Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Travis Hamonic and Thomas Greiss is a most likely scenario for the Isles to protect. Injured NHL players, like Islanders forward, Mikhail Grabovski are exempt from upcoming Vegas expansion, per NHL Players Asscoaition Guidelines.

On defense, the Hamonic-de Haan protection debate is a valid one based on injury history, but NY probably values cornerstone, Travis Hamonic over a skilled Calvin de Haan, who has improved each season he has played with the Isles IMO. Per @incarceratedbob, “Underrated/underappreciated Dman Calvin de Haan has 5 teams chasing #Leafs #Sabres #Oilers leading charge #Vegas #Kings in it. Bad idea if Snow moves de Haan for draft pick.. real bad 26 years old, eats up minutes, stays healthy + improves yearly Don't do it.” The forwards Nelson-Strome debate is another point of contention to some fans. While both have been lights-out at times, they have also struggled. Strome is currently a bigger question mark than Nelson to me.

Other valuable players like Cal Clutterbuck or Jaroslav Halak probably wouldn’t be chosen based on age, salary, etc, but you never know. The Isles also have some blue chips (you already know the list) ready to jump off this season, which would make a second-tier loss, a seemingly more acceptable sacrifice in the eyes of the organization. And Matthew Barzal made a huge splash this summer after helping Seattle win their first ever WHL title while also being named playoff MVP.

Per Bob McKenzie, “For those asking, NHL trade/waiver freeze and signing moratorium runs from 3 pm ET Sat. June 17 until 8 am ET Thur June 22. EXCEPT... Beginning 10 am ET on Sun June 18, VGK can make deals with other clubs tho those 30 clubs can only make deals with VGK until freeze ends.”

The trades have already started last night and the Islanders should be looking to move some pieces around. We must wait and see if any are moved prior to the Draft or July 1st start of free agency or summer and into camp. Right now, Garth Snow has the wheel. 

Let’s hope he keeps the Islanders on course.

Isles Notes:

Per Islanders, Isles announce a preseason game at Nassau Coliseum on Sept. 17 vs. the Flyers, play Rangers in preseason games on 9/18 and then at the home of the BST on 9/22 at Webster Bank Arena.

6/8       Brian Compton, "Greg Cronin will remain on #Isles coaching staff next season."

6/14     According to Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal, Kelly Buchberger to the Isles Coaching Staff is coming.

Steve Bernier has agreed to terms on a two-year, two-way (NHL/AHL) deal.

Brett Yormark: Won’t change Barclays Center to try to keep Islanders.

NY top court blocks Willets West mall near Citi Field.

Mike Bossy’s letter to his younger self from Player’s Tribute.

Sound Tigers Notes:

The #SoundTigers have signed Matt Gaudreau (F) for the 2017-18 season.

NHL Notes:

Per @CapFriendly, “NHL Buyout window is now officially open. Two players, Greene #Kings & Girardi #Rangers, have already been made aware they'll be bought out.”

SB Nation, “NHL salary cap could see unusually high rise in 2017-18, per report.”

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

New York Islanders Off-Season: Scott Gomez named Assistant Coach and Kieffer Bellows to Portland

The New York Islanders officially announced the hiring of Scott Gomez as an assistant coach. Gomez will join Doug Weight’s evolving staff along with newcomer, Luke Richardson to try and help the Isles find an improved approach to their game. Gomez and Weight were teammates for Team USA at the World Cup and Olympics in 2004 and 2006. Gomez was rumored to be on the Isles radar for an assistant’s spot over the last several weeks and has apparently wanted to make the transition from a successful career on the ice to behind the bench for the last few years.

"You're not playing much at the end there, but you're still helping the young guys and giving back what was given to me by all the great vets I had," Gomez said. "I worked for the NHL Network, NBC, did some TV and they were wonderful to me, it was great, but at the end of the day, I still have that passion and I wanted to get into coaching."

Isles fans are well acquainted with the play-making skills of Scott Gomez since his break out seasons with New Jersey after a Rookie of the Year award, All-Star appearances, a Calder Memorial Trophy, along with assisting in a 2000 and 2003 Stanley Cup win. The 37-year-old Gomez played 1,079 NHL games with the Devils, NYR, MTL, SJS, FLA, STL and Ottawa during an impressive 16 year NHL career and hopes to bring his knowledge and know-how to the Islanders bench and help players develop and improve to reach their full potential.

"Scott brings an immense amount of hockey knowledge to our coaching staff," Weight said. "His offensive instincts, expertise on the power-play and the way he could control the game with his skating and smarts, are all key elements that we want implemented into our group. He played in the league as recently as the 2015-16 season so he can relate to today's NHL player in an effort to bring out the best in each member of the team."

Per Arthur Staple, “If/when #Isles add Kelly Buchberger to staff, will have four coaches with over 1,000 NHL games played. Can't imagine that's happened before.”

More insight from Gomez himself in the "The Player's Tribute" can be found here.

Kieffer Bellows left BU to sign with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. Bellows was the Isles 1st round pick,19th overall selection in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft and is a highly thought-of prospect that New York hopes will help fill out an improving group of elite young forwards. Bellows was also a member of the United States Development team, where he helped Team USA defeat Canada for the gold in the 2017 tournament.

Elite Prospects describes Kieffer Bellows as a “skilled power forward who can dominate games. Possesses high end puckhandling ability as well as a crisp, accurate release on his shot.” He is known for being a tenacious, competitive and physical presence on the ice. Bellows is a methodical checker and strong skater who is hard to deter from his pursuit of the puck. So basically, as a complete prospect, Bellows has a nose for the net and the tools to score goals in bunches.

“We’re very fortunate that Kieffer has chosen to come to the Winterhawks this season,” said Winterhawks Vice President, General Manager and Head Coach Mike Johnston in a press conference Tuesday. “He has an impressive resume as a player, but also is learning how to win. Kieffer has a good scoring touch, and comes from great bloodlines with the NHL experience of his father, Brian Bellows, who won both a Stanley Cup and a Memorial Cup.”

Kieffer Bellows is the son of former NHL RW, Brian Bellows who played from 1980-1999 with Minnesota, Montreal, Tampa Bay, Anaheim and Washington in 1200 games.

“I’m very honored and privileged to be a part of this organization,” said Bellows Tuesday. “I can’t thank my mom and dad enough for helping me get to this point in my life. I’m very excited to help this team as much as I can.” Bellows is obviously excited to show what he can do in the Canadian Juniors with Portland, under the close watch of Islanders brass.

Isles Notes:

“The New York Islanders will not play four regular season games at the renovated Nassau Coliseum next season, despite an agreement to do so by developer Bruce Ratner in his 2013 lease with the county, according to National Hockey League Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly,” per Newsday.

Calvin de Haan collects a silver medal at the IIHF Worlds. Dennis Seidenberg awarded the best Defensemen of the tournament.

Arthur Staple on Kovalchuk possibility, “if the trade cost is minor — and I could see the Isles insisting that Mikhail Grabovski’s cap hit go the other way — I would think the Isles have some interest.”

Matthew Barzal and the Western Hockey League Champion Seattle Thunderbirds were eliminated from the Memorial Cup following a 7-0 tournament ending loss vs. Saint John. Barzal helped the T-Birds to a memorable Western Conference Championship and their best season in team history.

Barzal on JT, "I learned a little bit from John Tavares when I was down there, just watching how he leads, by example."

NHL Notes:

Available 2017 Summer Free Agents List.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

New York Islanders Off-Season: Tavares, Belmont, Richardson & Barzal

So I’ve heard rumors on a few fronts that the Boomer and Carton show on WFAN mentioned the John Tavares extension is apparently done (terms), as well as an Arena deal, for the Islanders to make their future home at Belmont Park, and nothing has been confirmed because the team can't go public right now. Rumors of JT’s contract extension were speculated to be around the 8yr, $10M range a couple of weeks ago. Tavares is key to the Islanders success and everyone knows that his signing is the primary focus of the organization this summer. More rumors of the Islanders continued uncertainty at the Barclays Center is also an undying topic of discussion. Those rumors swirled around the team or host, Barclays Center opting out of their deal while currently in the contract renegotiation period. Rob Taub Tweeted, “Craig Carton on @BoomerandCarton just now said the #Isles building in Belmont could be ready by the start of the 2019-2020 season.” We must keep our collective ears open and wait for more details over the summer, at the Drafts and probably the Free Agency period to open before the Islanders give confirmation.

The New York Islanders confirmed Arthur Staples’ earlier hunch of adding Luke Richardson to their coaching staff is indeed true. Richardson will serve as an Assistant Coach under new Head Coach Doug Weight. Weight and Richardson were team mates while playing for the Edmonton Oilers in the early 90’s.

"Luke brings a tireless work ethic and outstanding character to our organization," Weight said. "He'll have his hands on every aspect of the team, including our systems, skill development and team culture. Luke's coaching experience, including four years running an organization as Head Coach in Binghamton, make him an excellent addition to our staff."  Let’s hope his hands can help the Isles horrible ability to convert on the man advantage and improve a 28th ranked PP unit. And he should certainly help bring more accountability to the Isles blue liners and infuse a new perspective within the D-group.

Richardson spoke about the need to achieve, per Staple, “We’ve talked about that a lot — we both want to win, we want to have success and neither of us would just hand someone a job because we knew them,” Richardson said. “Success is the biggest part for me. That’s the reason why I left my last job (with Binghamton in the AHL). At the minor-league level, winning and developing players have to work hand in hand. It can be hard to have the success you want.” Richardson wanted to be in consideration for the head coaching job with Ottawa that went to Guy Boucher. He also tried for the Sabers vacancy that went to Dan Bylsma and was also interviewed by the Ducks to replace Boudreau, that went to Carlyle (per Mike Halford of NBCSports.) Richardson has something to prove and he feels good about doing it with New York.

Richardson was an experienced NHL defensemen who played just over 1,400 games for six different teams (35 & 166 for 201 points) in his 21-year career with playoff experience and International medals (Gold and Silver) for Team Canada. Per Islanders press release, “Richardson coached Canada's National Men's Team to the 2016 Spengler Cup Championship. He also helped Team Canada to a runner-up finish as an Assistant Coach at the 2016 Deutschland Cup. The Ottawa, ON, native spent four seasons as Head Coach of the American Hockey League's Binghamton Senators from 2012-2016. Richardson was an Assistant Coach with the Ottawa Senators from 2009 to 2012.” Richardson was named the AHL’s Eastern Conference all-star coach in his second-year coaching Binghamton. Rumors also have Kelly Buchberger or Scott Gomez being considered as assistant coaching candidates. “Buchberger was seen watching Mathew Barzal with Weight during the WHL playoffs. Barzal was a beast as Seattle defeated Regina. 17th.” - Staple

On the player-acquisition front, the Isles-Kovalchuk rumors have not gone away. Elliotte Frieman mentioned the possibility in his “30 thoughts” column for Sportsnet. “It makes sense for them, although they will have to convince him they are going for it now. Russian sources believe Kovalchuk had serious interest in the Rangers, but a) I’m not sure of their interest, and b) I’m not sure they could pull it off if they wanted to. Sounds like Florida has also inquired. But, if he was interested in the New York area, why wouldn’t the Islanders try?” I’m not sure the Isles have the cap room to experiment on Kovalchuk’s chemistry with a team that needs to fine tune their roster right now.

Mathew Barzal, 19 was named MVP of the WHL playoffs for the Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL). Barzal helped the ‘Birds clinch their first ever berth in the Memorial Cup. He will lead his team against the Erie Otters (OHL) today with hopes getting one step closer to win a Mastercard Memorial Cup Title. The tourney host, Windsor Spitfires(OHL), Saint Johns Sea Dogs (QMJHL) are also competing in the tournament. Barzal (7 & 18 for 25 pts in 16 playoff games) was the New York Islanders 16th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. “I’ve had a couple of ups and down this year, getting sent back, losing the World Juniors,” said Barzal. “It just feels so great, especially to win with this group of guys.” Mathew Barzal should make a strong push for the Isles roster for next season along with Ryan Pulock, Michael Dal Colle and an eager to return, Josh Ho-Sang.

I’m sure we will be privy to more events going down over the next week or so. I’ll be off the grid for a short while, recovering from surgery, but I’ll try to remain active on Twitter.  Consider following me if you don’t already under the @Knight_of_Cups_ tag.

In the meantime, the Islanders continue to be on the clock heading into the 2017-18 season.

Time-check please.

Isles Notes:

Islanders vs. Rangers preseason game set for September 22nd at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport.

Per Elliotte Friedman, “Could see Detroit with interest in Calvin de Haan from the Islanders, who would be worried about losing him in the expansion draft. He’s been very solid at the Worlds.”

Thomas Hickey is also a name that is thrown around for the expansion draft.

IIHF Notes:

With Team USA (Lee & Nelson) and Team Germany (Seidenberg & greiss) eliminated by Finland and Canada, Isles prospect Ilya Sorokin wasn’t in net today, but his Team Russia was also eliminated from the tournament in a 4-2 loss to Calvin deHaan and Team Canada in the Semi-Final round.