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

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What's Up With Mikko?

Per, “Koskinen’s greatest asset is his size, which he uses to seemingly fill the entire net and he covers a lot of space in the butterfly. He is inexperienced in terms of the number of games played and has not had a lot of international experience – excelling in the SM-Liiga where he ordinarily does not see the booming slapshots or accurate snipers more common in North America.  Still learning as a goaltender, he must work to improve his quickness and foot speed. Very good at anticipating chances and setting himself to limit scoring opportunities.  Quality teammate who has earned the respect of the veteran players in Espoo.”

The New York Islanders drafted Mikko Koskinen in the 2nd round, 31st overall of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. That July, Koskinen signed a three-year, ELC.

After going 1-1 with the Soundtigers in 09-10 and had success in the ECHL after recovering from a hip injury, Koskinen returned to the AHL the following season with Bridgeport  in 10-11 going, 12-21-1 with a .892Sv% and 3.49gaa. 

That same year, in his brief stint with the Islanders, Koskinen lost to Toronto by the score of 5-3 after Kevin Poulin was hurt in warm-ups (knee).  He looked good with back-to-back wins over Montreal via shootout and the epic 9-3 winning brawl in Pittsburgh.  When he was returned to Bridgeport, Koskinen suffered a season ending wrist injury.  The Soundtigers finished last in the Atlantic Division. 

In 11-12, he went 0-2 in Bridgeport and was subsequently sent to KalPa in the Finnish Elite League on loan to get the ice time he would not get with Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson in Bridgeport.

In my opinion, Mikko Koskinen has to battle his way back into the Isles goaltender rotation where both Poulin and Nilsson have made an impression behind Evgeni Nabokov.  The Rick DiPietro factor still looms over the Isles crease and they will no doubt give the former all-star another shot to undo his less than stellar appearances of the recent past.

How well can Koskinen be expected to develop in the SM-Liiga?  While he can get the minutes, the quality and skill level of the opposition is much different.  He needs to find consistency, use his great size and minimize his negative tendencies like playing too far back into his net.  And while time in the AHL is still minor league pro hockey, the system played in Bridgeport is the system he would play with the Islanders and his team mates in Bridgeport are members of the same team organization, which builds chemistry. 

So what does that mean for RFA Koskinen?

Update:  Koskinen playing well in KHL and Isles still retain his NA rights.

Isles Notes:

Per Dee Karl on 8/25, Yashin and Satan at Iceworks last week.  Arthur Staple confirms Yashin there again yesterday.

Per Arthur Staple, “Islanders camp scheduled to open 9/22.”

“Regarding Visnovsky hearing on 9/4, #Isles GM Garth Snow hopes for an expedited ruling prior to 9/15 so team can plan accordingly.  Sec. 11.8, part a: "If Player is Traded/claimed on Waivers prior to the NTC/NMC taking effect, the clause does not bind the acquiring Club."  Ducks and Isles checked with NHL before going thru with Visnovsky trade and NHL approved it; could factor in grievance outcome.”

Per Randi Marshall, “To clarify, three candidates remain in the Isles coliseum RFQ competition. Baldassano, Blumenfeld and Monti remain. Breslin is out.”

NHL Notes:

Per Adam Proteau, “Eight NHL teams – Phoenix, NYI, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Dallas, St. Louis, Florida & Colorado – remain under the 2012-13 $54.2 million cap floor.”

Per Allan Walsh, “According to Forbes, Revenue at top end of NHL- Leafs at $193M, NYR at $169M and Mtl at $165M. On bottom end, Isles at $63M, Phx at $70M.”

Per Katie Strang, “On CBA, Fehr outlined impact of NHL's 2nd proposal and, although it doesn't include salary rollbacks, would result in significant escrow hike.  And w/ regards to the revenue-sharing, the 2 sides aren't so far apart on $$ -- $50m -- but structure/ sourcing still vastly different.  Newest proposal's impact on escrow? NHLPA projects it would increase to 15-20%.  Bettman defended league's 2nd proposal and said that NHL has made more significant %/$ concessions than PA did in their initial one.  Bettman also seemed perplexed at players' sense of entitlement to 57%, pointed to NFL, NBA as cap sports that reduced players' shares.”

Per Darren Dreger, “NHL proposed a 6 year term today. Players Share: 2012/13 - 51.6% 2013/14 - 50.5% 2014/15 - 49.6% 2015/16 - 50% 2016/17 - 50% 2017/18 - 50%.  I'm told league proposal reduce financial "ask" tabled in first proposal by $460 million including, by $120 million in Year 1.  Proposed Salary Caps: all projected and fixed: 2012/13 - $58M 2013/14 -$60M. 2014/15-$62M. 2015/16-$64.2M. 2016/17 - $67.6M 2017/18 - $71.1M.”

Per Szymon Szemberg, “Swedish league decided today (8/23) it will not accept any short-term contracts of locked-out NHLers. Players can only sign for minimum 1 season.”

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Isles Notes For 8/19

Continuing to make headlines, Lubomir Visnovsky was involved in a crash during an automobile race over the weekend.

Per Matias Strozyk, “Visnovsky lost control of his Ferrari 458 and crashed head-on into a barrier while participating in a race in SVK. No major injuries.”  Visnovsky had the Islanders permission to participate in the race.

This report was confirmed by New York Islanders GM, Garth Snow: "I have spoken directly with Lubomir and am pleased to report that he did not suffer any serious injuries."

And if you want more Lubomir Visnovsky news, Per Dee Karl, “MSN … confirmed Lubo arbitration 9/4 … 11 days before NHL CBA deadline.”

In other news ...

Brad Boyes has chosen to wear #24 for the Islanders.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Strome Scores Tournament Winner For Canada

The Islanders saw four prospects taking part in the 2012 Canada-Russia Challenge: D Griffin Reinhart, D Adam Pelech and C Ryan Strome for Team Canada, while, D Andrey Pedan took the ice for Team Russia.

Canada wins game 1, 3-2.

On August 10th, Canada listed Isles prospect, D, Griffin Reinhart as day to day after getting shaken up in game 1.

Russia wins game 2, 6-3.  Strome 1g.

Russia wins game 3, 6-5, lead the series 2-1.  Strome 1a.

Canada would need a game 4 regulation win to get back into position to win series.  With a win, both teams would play in a 20-minute overtime period, followed by a shoot out if needed to determine a winner.

Canada wins game 4 by the score of 4-2 to stay alive.

The Islanders 2011, 5th overall first round draft choice, Ryan Strome gets the game and series winner in overtime to clinch it for Canada.

This year’s tournament was the 40th anniversary of the 1972 summit series between Canada and Russia.

Isles Notes:

On August 9th, Katie Strang also noted that Islanders Ownner, “Charles Wang just left NHL offices although it doesn't appear he was there for labor talks.”

Tom Mascioli reported, “Isles 2012 second round pick D Ville Pokka went scoreless for Finland in 5 games played at the USA National Junior Evaluation Camp.”

@NHLhistorygirl mentions, “Cami Granato was also once invited to an Isles camp, but she declined.”

NHL Notes:

Per Katie Strang, The second day of CBA talks on August 8th addressed supplemental discipline.  The NHLPA seemed satisfied with the current system.  League disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan and Stephane Quintal were invoved in Supp. Discipline portion of talks.  NHLPA's Mathieu Schneider conceded that there have been heated exchanges but said talks have not been "adversarial.”  NHL Deputy commissioner Bill Daly wouldn't describe today's talks as "tense" but said there were some "strongly-held views.”  The NHLPA made a presentation in response to league's proposed revenue-sharing system with a Counter-proposal coming.  The NHLPA's concern is that players will bear brunt of revenue-sharing system with salary reductions.  Strang Asked about how far apart two sides are on revenue-sharing, Fehr said "there is a meaningful gulf.”

Arthur Staple reported that, “commissioner GaryBettman says league will lock out players if there's no new CBA deal by Sept. 15.”

Adam Proteau sums it up, “NHL owners refuse to play another season under a CBA that raised revenue by $1 billion in 7 years. Makes complete sense to me!”

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Trivino Pleads Guilty and Isles Notes

Per B.D. Gallof, “Corey Trivino pleaded guilty today to assault and battery charge.”  Per the article in today’s Boston Globe, Trivino has been sentenced to “two years of probation during which he must be tested randomly for alcohol use, attend weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, receive a mental health evaluation, and have no contact with the victim.”

The victim in this case was a resident assistant in Corey Trivino’s dorm who tried to enforce the policy on quiet time, when a reportedly intoxicated Trivino, began attempting to kiss, grope the victim, and followed her back to her room.  He (Trivino) repeatedly began to force his way into the victims room and continued to harass her, Police said.

B.D. Gallof quoted a source as, “Asst. DA said plea bargain was recommended b/c victim did not want to go through the trauma of trial.” 

Per the Boston Globe, “While on probation, Trivino is required to remain drug- and alcohol-free. He is slated to attend an NHL camp later this year and would then fall under the NHL drug and alcohol testing rules. Trivino was drafted by the New York Islanders in 2008. Under the terms of his probation, Trivino is required to share the results of drug testing with his probation officer.”

Per DailyFreePress: "Trivino completed a four-month intensive outpatient rehabilitation program in Ontario following his arrest.  Trivino’s attorney told court: expects to have an NHL contract & assigned to camp by end of month, even if it’s with another team.”

Arthur Staple adds, “According to Isles, Corey Trivino is NOT invited to training camp. He is still team property, but will not be signed or invited.  2008 NHL draft picks who graduate college must be signed by Aug. 15 or become FAs. Since Trivino is ineligible, he's in limbo.

We shall see what this means for Trivino and his pro career.  We have tried to follow this case and updated you as details become available.  My continued support to the young lady who had to endure this needless situation.

The Hockey News have picked your New York Islanders to finish 15th in the Eastern Conference for next season.  They give the Isles credit for showing promise and building depth, but think because they are locked in a tough Atlantic division, they wont be able to “climb out of the basement.”  John Tavares in credited for being a superstar on the rise, but they sight goaltending as a reason for not taking the next step.

I am not sure how Evgeni Nabokov can be seen as a liability in net for a team that is getting better on defense.  What they do not mention, and what is a concern of the defense is the uncertainty of whether or not Lubo will play for the Isles.  Arthur Staple had this, "Per his agent and the NHLPA, still no date set for Lubo Visnovsky's grievance hearing vs. the Ducks."  I can say if this hole remains on defense and no other assets are acquired on offense or defense, it may indeed be a tough season for the Islanders.  Even if their blue chip prospects get a shot on NHL ice, they will most likely experience some growing pains while the make the jump to the next level.  What will the team finally plan for 2012-13 when everything finally shakes out?

Isles Notes:

Per the New York Islanders, Ryan Strome, Griffin Reinhart, Adam Pelech and Andrey Pedan are participating in the Canada-Russia Challenge starting this week.

NHL News:

Per Katie Strang, In CBA news, “NHLPA contingent arrived shortly after noon at NHL offices in NYC. D Fehr still in Europe. Mtg in Barcelona today.  DiPietro, Hainsey and Montador here with NHLPA. Player safety meetings to begin, legal issues to be discussed later this afternoon.  Mathieu Schneider said NHLPA "closer" to drafting counter-proposal, "but still no timeframe."  Player safety and legal issues were main topics discussed during Day 1 of labor talks this wk. Econ issues on Fri agenda.  NHLPA still receiving independently-audited financial info from league. Don't expect counter-proposal until it has all been processed.  NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said two sides expect to tackle economic issues Thursday and Friday.  Daly said two sides have found significant common ground on the non-core economic issues discussed recently.  Don't want to inspire false hope, though. Common ground or not, deal will hinge on $$$ issues.”

Per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, veteran forward Richard Park has signed a two-year deal with HC Ambri-Piotta of the Swiss League.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Reinhart Signs ELC With Islanders

Defensemen, Griffin Reinhart agreed to terms with The New York Islanders to a 3 year ELC.  The hulking Defensemen was the Isles first round selection, 4th overall in this year’s NHL Entry Draft.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

DP And The New York Islanders: A Legacy

In 2000, the New York Islanders selected Rick DiPietro first over all in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft after an 18-5-5 season with Boston University, good enough for an NCAA Hockey East regular season title.  During his first season as a pro on the Islanders, he went 3-15-1 with a 3.49gaa and a .878 Sv%, and 4-5-2 with the Chicago Wolves of the now defunct, IHL or International Hockey League.  In 2001, he was assigned to the new Bridgeport AHL franchise, which would serve as the top affiliate for the Islanders.  That year, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers went 43-25-8, losing the Calder Cup Finals to the same, now AHL aligned, Chicago Wolves.  DiPietro had a 30-22-7 record with a 2.32gaa and a .913 Sv% that season.

 During the 2002-03, 03-04 and 04-05 seasons, DiPietro split time between Bridgeport and Long Island, developing his game and getting to be a better and smarter goaltender.  He helped the Tigers make the playoffs again in 2002-03, but failed to get out of the first round.  From a positional standpoint, even though it could be said he had the ability to handle the puck very well and often assisted the defense on clears, DiPietro’s decision making could be questioned. His choices on when to handle the puck and when to let it go could be and were criticized often by fans and the media.  His miscues were somewhat common and often resulted in untimely give-aways and goals against for the opposition.  The following season, in 2005-06, he played a career high of 63 games in which he went 30-24-5.

In 2006, DiPietro signed an unprecedented, 15-year, $67.5M contract.  Although now common place in the NHL, the Hockey world was very critical of such a long, high priced contract.  The team was the butt of countless jokes, and the Islanders Organization was ridiculed about why a team would sign a player to such a contract.  At the time, it made DiPietro the highest paid goaltender in the NHL at 4.5M per season.  As it was, Garth Snow, the back-up goaltender from the previous season, was elevated to GM. Ted Nolan, who hadn’t coached since ’97, was the Isles bench boss. The ridicule would continue from when they bought out the 4 remaining years of Alexi Yashin’s (about $18M) 10-year contract that would count as 2.2M against their salary cap for the next 8 years. 

That season, DP went a career best, 32-19-9 with a 2.58 Sv% and a .919 Sv% and made the NHL playoffs after the heroics of Wade Dubielewicz in relief for the final game of the season.  The Islanders went on to lose to the Buffalo Sabers 4 games to 1.  The team had a successful year and finally made it back to the playoffs, despite being picked to finish last; DP was a major component of their limited success.  DiPietro’s injury period would begin.  Jeff Z. Klein’s timeline helped me remember the events.

Just when DP seemed to be coming of age, it is now evident looking back that it could be the beginning of the end for Rick DiPietro’s NHL hockey career.  DiPietro’s resolve to battle and never back down could be seen as most of the reason for his success.  On March 13, 2007, DiPietro skated out for the puck while a streaking Montreal player (Steve Begin) made a play for the puck, resulting in an uncontrolled collision.  DP would suffer a concussion and force him to miss the final 7 games of the season.

Prior to the 2007-08 season, DiPietro would undergo surgery, in the off-season, to repair a tear in his hip.  A knee sprain would cause him to miss 3 games in December.  Things seemed to improve as DiPietro was named an NHL All-Star in 2008 as a starting goaltender for the Eastern Conference.  During a skills competition, DP re-injured his hip and was heard on live t.v. asking Boston’s Tim Thomas to take over for him in the contest.  He would miss the final 9 games of the season.

The off-season before 2008-09 would not be any better.  DiPietro would have surgery on the same left knee that he sprained the year before.  He would play only one period in the first five games and miss 27 games that would lead into another knee surgery.  DP missed the last 42 games of the season with “knee swelling.”  He would play in only 4 games going 1-3-0 with a 3.53gaa and a .892Sv%.

After another off-season knee surgery and missing the first 27 games, 2009-10 would see DiPietro go 2-5-0, 2.60gaa and .900Sv%.  The final 12 games would be missed with more swelling in the knee.  2010-11 would see DiPietro go 8-14-4 with a 3.44gaa and .866 Sv%.  DP would see injured reserve with knee swelling and lose 5 games to a groin injury as well.  On February 2nd, DiPietro engaged with Penguins back up net minder, Brent Johnson and suffered facial fractures, causing him to miss the final 20 games of the season.

In the 2011-12 season, DiPietro would suffer another concussion after taking a shot to the cage of his newly adorned, old school, cat eye mask, similar to the one Glen Healy used to wear.  

He suffered another groin injury to once again place him on injured reserve in December vs. the Dallas Stars.  DiPietro’s constant injuries would give some in the blogesphere and Hockey media to take a sarcastic tone when reporting on the Islanders and their “Goalie merry-go round.”  Since 2006-07, DP would share the Islanders crease with Mike Dunham, Wade Dubielewicz, Joey MacDonald, Yann Danis, Peter Mannino, Dwayne Roloson, Martin Biron, Al Montoya, Kevin Poulin, Nathan Lawson and Mikko Koskinen.  Last season, the Isles added Evgeni Nabokov and Anders Nilsson to the mix.

It is evident that prospects like Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson have the Islanders optimistic about their goaltending future.  Evgeni Nabokov is a solid veteran that can play right now and keep the Isles in games.  So what does that mean for Rick DiPietro?

Well today, the teams website promoted the following story. 

Per the New York Islanders, “Rick DiPietro has officially been activated off of the team's injured reserve list…”

It can be said that the ‘DiPietro carousel' undermines the team chemistry and the stability in goal.  That would seem to be correct.  It can also be said that DP should retire and end his injury-plagued career. That may be true.  Some say enough already, give it up.  At this point, I might be inclined to agree.  But I also know this.  DP needs to win to remain with the team.  If he is going to mount a real NHL level comeback, he needs to make more saves and allow less goals.  Period.

As a member of team USA for the Junior Championships, an Olympian for the United States World Cup and World Championships, DiPietro is a competitor that doesn’t know how to quit.  As a person, few athletes have wanted to do more for the fans and hockey community with his celebrity.

For what its worth, he wanted to help the New York Islanders win a Stanley Cup and by committing to them for 15 years, said he didn’t want to play anywhere else.  From the time he played in Bridgeport, he only wanted to bleed blue and orange.

 I bring this up because I know that even though DiPietro has become a joke to some, no one resents what has unfolded for him in his career more than him.  And as much as we, the fans, have suffered through year after year of injury, vague team explanations, and the frustration of it all, so has he.  Rick DiPietro didn’t set out to write this legacy, so I would say cut him a break and support him if he comes back in net for the Isles.

I also understand the frustration with Ownership and Management for some of the moves made over the last few years, like keeping Rick DiPietro in the plan.  I think its because they want to hang on to what they think will help them win, a healthy DP included.  Especially, the struggle to land the top tier free agent.  We all know that probably won’t change until something can be worked out with a new arena.  I know that Ownership and Management are trying to do all they can to improve the team until then.  Charles Wang has gotten to be a better Owner and kept the Isles here so far and Garth Snow has done a very good job, considering the damage done to the franchise, since the Milbury years.  The rebuild is showing results and the team has done its best to make Long Island a destination for potential missing pieces.

If the Islanders don’t want to give up on DiPietro just yet, I understand your frustrations.

So, while DP continues to workout, practice and train, we can hope he may regain some of his All-Star form.  I am not sure how long we will have to wait to see how this all turns out, but for what its worth, just realize that Rick DiPietro has never given up on the Islanders.

Isles Notes:

Per Chris Botta, “On ESPN Spano NYI doc, "Prison Break" creator Nick Santora had to step down after starting project. Kevin Connolly now directing.”

“If Rick DiPietro was on IR when a lockout began, Islanders would have to pay him. Hence today's very official announcement.”

Christian Arnold reminds us, “Today is the one year anniversary of the defeated Nassau Coliseum Referendum.”

Per Randi Marshall, “Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray: "Hempstead Town looks forward to working with the developer that Nassau County chooses."

NHL Notes:

Per Katie Strang, “NHL and NHLPA split into small groups today. Topics discussed: pension/benefits, player health and safety issues.  No counter-proposal from NHLPA yet; PA still has not received all the independently audited financial info they requested from NHL.  Labor talks: NHLPA frustrated it hasn't received all independently-audited financial info necessary to make counter-proposal while NHL frustrated abt perception this info is different than the financial documentation that has already been provided. (I) Asked about potential lockout should no deal be reached by Sept 15, NHL Deputy Commish Bill Daly said goal is to avoid that scenario.”

Chris Botta adds, “NHL CBA expires in 6 weeks. League and PA not close on any financial issues. Sides met this week for a total of 10 hours.”