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

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Isles Sign Graham & Pokka to ELC's


Today, the New York Islanders signed defenseman, Jesse Graham to a 3 year ELC.  The Isles selected Graham in the sixth round (155th overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Graham is reported to be a strong skating impact player that can contribute offensively.  He had 54 points in 66 OHL games last season, split between Niagara and Saginaw as an alternate captain.  After Saginaw’s playoff elimination, Graham joined the BST and scored 1 & 3 for 4 points in seven games last season. Graham has OHL all-rookie honors and scored an impressive 152 points in 265 games,  he has won a gold medal with Team Canada/Ontario in the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge

From Twitter:

Jesse Graham              

Honoured to sign my first NHL contract with the @NYIslanders. Thanks to everyone for all the support!

 
 

On May 28th, The New York Islanders continued to improve one of their biggest areas of weakness.  They signed their 2012 second round pick (34th overall) defenseman, Ville Pokka to 3 year ELC.  Pokka scored 12 & 30 for 42 points in games with Karpat of the SM-ligga and tallied 11 points in 16 playoff games with Karpat on their way to the 2014 Liiga Championship.  Pokka is a six time selection for Team Finland and won Gold in the 2014 WJC’s.  He has a calm demeanor with a strong defensive mindset, but is able to join the rush and contribute offensively.  Per Arthur Staple, Possibility exists that Isles will have him continue playing in Finland next season.”
 

 

 

Isles Notes:


Jaroslav Halak will wear No. 41 with the Islanders.


Per Anthony Stabile, "New Isles goalie Jaroslav Halak chose #41. Only 3 players have ever worn that # for the Isles David Ullstrom 12, Derek Bekar in 04 and Raymond Giroux back in 2000-2002."


Kevin Czuczman & Anders Lee are graduating from college this off season.


@IgorEronko: Sportbox.ru reports NYI G Anders Nilsson signed deal with AkBars of KHL.


 


Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day: A Reflection


While we enjoy the NHL playoffs and look forward to next season, please take some time today to reflect on the true meaning of the holiday.  As we might meet with family and friends, enjoying all that living in our country affords us, think about the sacrifices made by the men & women of our military. 


Think of those who made the ultimate sacrifice so we might live free & enjoy the possibilities of tomorrow.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Islanders Offseason: Top 5 Possibilities For '14-'15 Season - Forwards



Part 3: Forwards



Last season, Kyle Okposo, John Tavares and Frans Nielsen led the Islanders in solid offensive performances at 69,66 & 58 pts respectively with Tavares reaching the 66 pt mark in only 59 games due to injury.  While there is always room for improvement, the Isles have been able to score goals.  They ranked 17th in the NHL with a 2.63 goals per game average, one spot better than their rival, New York Rangers who have enjoyed some success in the playoffs thus far this season.


With an improved defensive game and more reliable goaltending, the current offense should be enough to make the Isles, at least a bottom bid playoff contender.  The most pressing need is a top forward to play on the first line with Okposo and Tavares.  With Thomas Vanek last season, the first line enjoyed a span of time as one of the top lines in the NHL, so with the right complement, they could be that dangerous once again.


Several other players had pretty good campaigns with the Isles last season at the forward position.  Josh Bailey struggled again but found his stride late, somehow reaching the 38 point mark.  Michael Grabner found new life after the Olympics, finishing the season with 26 pts on 64 games.  Cal Clutterbuck and Colin Mc Donald were impact players and scored 19 & 18 pts.  Casey Cizikas (RFA) wasn't happy with his play last season (16 pts), but vowed to have a better showing next year.  Matt Martin was a hitting machine and like Cizikas, is a real difference maker when he gets on the ice.  Eric Boulton is a limited role player, but favorite team mate and has been re-signed for next season.
 

Another bright spot was the play of some talented prospects brought in to fill holes throughout the season.  The strong play of Brock Nelson (26 pts in 72 games), Ryan Strome (18 pts in 37 games) & (RFA) Anders Lee (14 pts in 22 games) got the attention of management and fans alike.  It is assumed, at least by this blogger that all 3 will remain with the team and be counted on for an even better performance in 2014-15.  John Persson, Johan Sundstrom, Mike Halmo, Brett Gallant and Justin Johnson also had a chance to make an impression for future considerations.


While the offense played well, the Islanders need a few more tweaks on forward to help the team take the next step as an Organization.  In free agent scenarios, there a are a couple of guys I think would be a good fit with the Islanders.


 

1.  UFA, Jarome Iginla of the Boston Bruins played well with an incentive based deal and was 30 & 31 for 61 pts in 78 games with 7 points in 12 play off games.  At age 36, Iginla wants to win a cup, so he may be tough to sign for the Islanders, but might be sold on playing with Tavares for the right price.  Last season, he made $1.8M with a $6M AAV (that included bonus incentives.)
 
 
 

2.  UFA, Jussi Jokinen of the Pittsburgh Penguins is an impact player who would work well on the Isles top line, not to mention add to New York's shoot out and face off threat.  At age 31, Jokinen scored 21 & 36 for 57 pts in 81 games and scored 10 pts in 13 play off games.  He made $3M AAV last season.


3.  UFA, Mason Raymond of the Toronto Maple Leafs is coming off his second best NHL season scoring 19 & 26 for 45 pts in 82 games.  Raymond has the reputation of being a strong skater with good hockey sense and at 28 years old, could be one of the best steals of the off season even when his price goes up.  He made $1M AAV last season.
 



4.  UFA, Ryan Callahan split time between the New York Rangers & Tampa Bay Lightning last season.  As a heart & soul player, Callahan brings a hard nosed, competitive effort to his game.  He made $4.275M AAV last season, but turned down a 6yr/$36M deal on Broadway.  He wanted a NMC the Rangers were unwilling to give him.  Maybe he'll give the Isles a discount to stick it to the Ranger


6/25 UPDATE:  The Tampa Bay Lightening sign Ryan Callahan to a six-year deal that will pay him an average of $5.8 million a season. 

5.  UFA, Thomas Vanek of the Montreal Canadiens could be a good fit.  OK, now before you say it, just hear me out.  Vanek turned down the Isles offer that was apparently a 7yr/$50M contract.  He said he wanted to test free agency, others said he intends to sign with Minnesota.  Despite how good he can be, Vanek may not get the money he wanted this off season and may have to rethink his plan.  We know that he already has chemistry with JT and KO when he chooses to put forth the effort, and although he is streaky, the 30yr old has 20+ goals in each of his 9 seasons and reached 60 pt mark six times over his career.  Lets not forget Vanek scored 27 & 48 for 68 pts last season and has 9 pts in 14 games so far in the playoffs.  He made $7.142M AAV last season.
 

 

Isles Notes:


Per Arthur Staple, "Garth Snow told me earlier that he has had "good conversations" with Evgeni Nabokov's agent about a return as backup to Halak."


Isles fans voted for Frans Nielsen for the "Isles Player Of The Year," with 55% of the vote.


Isles prospect D, Griffin Reinhart and the Edmonton Oil Kings beat VDO in a 3 OT Semi and Guelph, 6-3 in the finals to win the 2014 Memorial Cup.


Isles G prospect, Anders Nilsson backs Sweden to a Bronze Medal shut out win in the IIHF WC.

 

NHL Notes:


Per Eric Hornick,"Ex-NHLers say they are hurting, need help but NHL Alumni isn’t there for them."  The Toronto Star article can be found here.

 

IIHF Notes:


Team Russia wins gold in the 2014 IIHF WC.

 


 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Jaroslav Halak Signs With The Islanders


It finally happened.


On May 1st, Garth Snow traded Chicago's 4th round pick (acquired for Regin & Bouchard,) for negotiating rights for 29 yr old Jaroslav Halak.  Today, he made the deal to bring Halak into the Isles Organization.  Halak brings an immediate up-grade to the Isles net & an arguably, a top NHL goaltender to the organization.  Halak had 29 wins last season, 5 shut outs (ranked 4th in NHL,) a .921Sv% (ranked 13th in NHL) & a 2.25 gaa (ranked 8th in NHL.)
 

Per Halak's Agent, Allan Walsh, "Jaroslav Halak has signed a 4 year contract with the NY Islanders. A new era begins and Jaro is thrilled to join the Islanders."  Halak's deal is a 4 year, $18M dollar contract with an AAV of $4.5M/ssn.


Halak appeared on NHL live a few minutes ago.  "I'm thrilled to sign with them," he said when speaking about his new deal and what it will mean to play for the Islanders.
 

Per NHL.com, "In 272 NHL games with the Montreal Canadiens, St. Louis and Washington, Halak has a 144-85-29 record with a 2.38 GAA, .918 save percentage and 30 shutouts. He has appeared in 23 Stanley Cup Playoff games with Montreal and St. Louis, with a 10-11 record, 2.42 GAA and .942 save percentage."
 

Garth Snow still needs to acquire a quality back-up for Halak, who has had his share of injury time over his career, including a problamatic groin.  There are several guys who could be a good fit.  My picks can be found here on my top 5 list written last Sunday.
 

With Halak, the Islanders have their starting goalie.  Now they can set their sights on a top line forward, top defensemen and a 20-25 game solid back-up goalie.  Only time will tell what the rest of another hopeful off season will bring.  Lets hope it yields the results all of us want.


Per Arthur Staple, "Newest Isles G Jaro Halak tells me: "I think this is a perfect fit. They have good young guys who will only get better."
 





Isles Notes:


It's Official.  Per Arthur Staple, "Isles will be keeping their 2014 1st-round pick and will send 2015 1st to Sabres to complete Thomas Vanek deal. Announcement to come."


In Internationa play, New York Islanders' Brock Nelson (5G 2 A), Matt Donovan (2G) & Alternate Captain, Colin Mc Donald (1G) all played well for Team USA.


Per Chris Botta, "I asked Gary Bettman about Isles sale. Bettman: "Charles (Wang) is still deciding what he wants to do. No decision has been made."


Per B.D. Gallof, "In talking to some NHL people, Barroway not even considered a likely direction for the Isles via sale. Majority think no deal at all."


"Current unnamed potential buyer is considered to have more traction than Barroway. Even then, most still feel no sale."

 

NHL Notes:


Per Chris Botta, " Sports Business Journal's award for League of the Year goes to...the NHL."


NHL's Bill Daly: "Our athletes are the best in team sports. We wouldn't be standing here tonight without the players."


"The SBJ Awards Executive of the Year is...Gary Bettman. The NHL commissioner receives a standing ovation."


Bettman: "Usually I'm standing with a trophy and getting booed. It's strange to be receiving one and be cheered."

 

IIHF Notes:


QF:  Brock Nelson scores, but Team USA's comeback effort falls short as the Czech Republic holds on to a 4-3 win, eliminating the US.
 
 


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Islanders Offseason: Top 5 Possibilities For '14-'15 Season - Defense



Part 2: Defense



Over the last few seasons, the Islanders defense has been a major reason for the teams failure to take the next step.  Comprised of a few core pieces, the rest was a patchwork stop gap made from waiver wire pick ups and inexperienced prospects.  A surprise to no one, the Isles sink or swim method of defense has yielded some results, but ultimately failed to produce on a consistent basis.


A big trade or free agent signing is a move that the Islanders have to make on defense.  A possible trade on draft day, like the one made for Lubomir Visnovsky could do the trick.  Visnovsky is a strong PP quarterback and a great leader on the blue line, but his concussion history leaves him questionable for the job next season.
 

That leaves anchorman, Travis Hamonic as the point to build from.  Hamonic is a solid and intimidating force on the Isles defense.  One time waiver addition, Thomas Hickey plays a consistent game for the Isles in my opinion.  He has improved with each shift and has done well in big time situations when called upon.  What else can you say about how well Calvin de Haan (RFA) has fit in since being called up to the Islanders?  Simply put, he has secured a spot as a top D-Man with this team.  Matt Donovan (RFA) has proven he can play at the NHL level and seemed to find his game by season's end.  It is my hope that he gets to stay with the organization.  As much as defense is a team weakness, the system does have some quality players that are gaining experience and getting noticed.
 

Add in Kevin Czucman & Scott Mayfield who performed very well in their limited auditions with the big club.  Czucman seemed ready to compete for a spot while Mayfield should see a first chance call up at very least if he doesn't make the team.  Griffin Reinhart should make the team out of training camp while guys like Ville Pokka, Ryan Puloch, Andrey Pedan, Loic Leduc & Adam Pelech will push the envelope throughout camp.


Matt Carkner (1 yr remaining) & Brian Strait (2 yrs remaining) play limited roles with the team and may find themselves moved as the prospect pool yields NHL ready players.  Radek Martinek is a UFA that should not be re-signed.


Even with all these assets, I feel Garth Snow needs to sign or acquire a top tier D-Man.  In free agent or possible trading scenarios, there a are a couple of guys I think would be a good fit with the Islanders.

 


1.  UFA, Matt Niskanen of the Pittsburgh Penguins is an offensive defensemen that seems to be hitting his stride at the right time.  The 27 yr old Niskanen scored 10 & 36 for 46 pts with a +33 in 81 games including 9 pts in 13 playoff games this season.  He also isn't afraid to drop the gloves when he feels the need.  Niskanen made $2,300,000 last season.
 

 

2.  RFA, Un-drafted.  Tory Krug is a 23 yr old defensemen for the Boston Bruins that would fit very well with the Isles.  Even though he is small at 5'9, Last season Krug scored 14 & 26 for 40 pts in 79 games at a +18 and scored 10 pts in 12 playoff games.  He is due for a big raise (Krug made $916,667 last season), but is a good gamble to take for N.Y.  He wont be easy to attain and will probably cost some quality compensatory draft picks if the Isles offer was successful and wasn't matched by Boston.

 

3.  UFA, 35 yr old Andrei Markov of the Montreal Canadiens is a top PP QB and a solid top pair D-man.  In 81 games, he scored 7 & 36 for 43 pts and a +12 and has scored 5 pts in 13 playoff games so far this season.  Markov made $5,750,000 last season at 35 yrs old.

5/23 UPDATE:  The Monreal Canadiens re-sign Andrei Markov to a 3yr/ $17.25M contract with an average of $5.75M/ssn.

 

4.  UFA, Ron Hainsey of the Carolina Hurricanes is a 33 yr old defensive minded defensemen who is still under rated in my opinion.  Hainsey can do it all and do it well for a lot of minutes.  While very limited on offense, he is a top caliber shot blocker and do the dirty work while an offensive defenseman joins the rush.   Hainsey made $2,000,000 last season, making him an experienced value.

6/24 UPDATE:  Carolina Hurricanes re-sign D Ron Hainsey to a 3 year, $8.5M extension.

 

5. UFA, Anton Stralman is a second pair D-Man for the New York Rangers.  So far at age 27, Stralman has seen a lot of minutes for the Rangers and played well even and on the PK.  He has 13 pts in 81 games at a +9 and 5 pts and a +7 in 16 playoff games so far this season.  Stralman is a bit of an un proven commodity and has a limited offensive touch.  Stralman made $1,700,000 last season and rejected a 3yr, $9M extension from the Rangers.
 




Isles Notes:
 

Voting is now open so let your voice be heard as to the Isles Awards "Player of the Year!"
 
 
Isles fans voted for Travis Hamonic for the "2013-14 Goal Of The Year."
 

@GriffinReinhart & the @EdmOilKings wrap-up round-robin play in the Memorial Cup tonight against Val-d'Or at 7 PM.


Four time Olympian, four time medal winner, Stanley Cup Champion & two time all-star, Miroslav Satan retires after a 14 year NHL career.


 

IIHF Notes:
 

@USAHockey finished second in Group B and will play Czech Republic in the Quarterfinals on Thursday.

 
Game 7:  Final score from Minsk: @USAHockey 5, Germany 4; Isles @SquatchDonovan scores for USA in the win.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Islanders Offseason: Top 5 Possibilities For '14-'15 Season - Goaltending



Part 1: Goaltending.



If you were Garth Snow, what moves would you make to improve the New York Islanders?  Your goal is clear.  It is to improve the team now and equip them take next step and improve from there.  Evaluating the draft, team prospects and the impending free agency period, there is a lot to strategize on and anticipate.


I will speculate on who the Islanders might add for the positions of goaltending, defense and forward in a multi-part pre-season series.  I am sure these lists will be updated or modified as the summer moves on and moves are made throughout the league.


The biggest hole is clearly goaltending.  With Jaro Halak's negotiating rights secured, the Islanders can work on signing him prior to an open season rush on July 1st.  This was a lesson learned last summer when they were forced to resign an aging Nabokov as soon as free agency opened to avoid losing out on a starting goaltender. 

Assuming Halak is the number one guy desired by the Organization, a back up will need to be signed for team depth and security.  Halak has been known to battle with injury throughout his career, so with no goaltenders under contract for next season, the Islanders will need to add a quality 1A or back up goaltender as well.  While Nabokov is a possible back up signing, Management knows a #1 guy is need to win now.  Anders Nilsson is a RFA and only wants a one-way NHL deal that the Isles are probably not willing to give him.  With all his international success aside, he needs to work on his North American, NHL style game before he would be ready to be an NHL goaltender.  RFA, Kevin Poulin struggled in his time with the Isles last season, showing that Poulin wasn't ready to be an NHL regular.  Any other Isles prospects are even less qualified than Nilsson & Poulin for a chance to play in the NHL based on maturity & experience, save for possibly Koskinen.


In free agents or possible trading scenarios, there a are a couple of guys I think would be a good fit with the Islanders. I wont include Halak on my list, since he is already "in the fold," so to speak.
 

5/22 UPDATE:  The New York Islanders sign G Jaroslav Halak to 4-year, $18-million contract.
 

1.  UFA, Jonas Hiller of the Anaheim Ducks would be a quality #1 or #1A goaltender with the Isles.  At 32 years old, Hiller has a .919 Sv% and a 2.14 gaa since 2007-08 as an AHL/NHL pro.  He brings playoff experience and the confidence necessary to aid the development of a young Isles defense.  Hiller made $4,500,000 last season.


2.   RFA, James Reimer of the Toronto Maple Leafs has shown flashes of the skill & ability of an NHL starter.  He is clearly not happy in Toronto and it is clear they aren't thrilled with him either.  Since 2008-09, the 26 year old Reimer has .912 Sv% and a 2.79 gaa as an AHL/NHL pro.  Reimer made $1,800,000 last season.  In my opinion, Reimer could be a good #1 or #1A goaltender with New York. 


3.   Michael Neuvirth at 26yrs old, has one year remaining on his contract with the Buffalo Sabers valued at $2,500,000.  Since 2008-09, Neuvirth has won the AHL Calder Cup in 2009 & 2010 and was the MVP in 2009.  Since 2008-09, Neuvirth has a .911 Sv% and a 2.81 gaa as an AHL/NHL pro.  Neuvirth lost the confidence of Washington's management and was sent to Washington for Jaro Halak and a 3rd round pick.  While he could flourish as a #1, Neuvirth could be what the Isles need in either a starter or back up roll.


4.  UFA, Brian Elliot has improved a lot in the last few seasons at 29 years old.  Since 2006-07, Elliot has a .917 Sv% with a 2.50 gaa as an AHL/NHL pro.  As a UFA, Elliot is one of the "best" goalies available, but he does have history with Jaro Halak.  As a team mate of Halaks' in St. Louis, Elliot did well, but neither seemed able to seize control in the playoffs as a tandem.  Will it different if they are paired in NY?  Elliot made $1,800,000 last season.

5/19 UPDATE:  The St. Louis Blues signed Elliot to a 3 yr. extension @ $2,500,00.00/Yr


5.  UFA, Thomas Greiss  is coming off a $750,000 season with the Phoenix coyotes at 29 years old.  Since 2006-07, Greiss has a .804Sv% with a 2.63 gaa as an AHL/NHL pro.  These numbers could improve if he finds the right team and coaching.  In my opinion, Greiss might make a good choice for a back-up goaltender.



IIHF Notes:


Team USA is 4-2.  Team USA qualified a spot in the quarter-finals.


Game 6:  @USAHockey 3, Finland 1. Isles @BNelson scored his fourth goal of the tournament 19 seconds into the 1st period.

Game 5:  Team USA defeats Team Kazakhstan 4-3 in overtime. @SquatchDonovan scores & @BNelson on ice for 3/4 goals including the GWG in O.T.



Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tavares Is Back


Today, some great news broke for Islanders fans.  Isles Captain, John Tavares said he was 'back to normal,' after rehabbing his knee and has been cleared to resume normal activity.  Tavares missed the end of the NHL season after an injury he sustained in the Sochi Olympic Games.  He was diagnosed with a torn MCL and meniscus in his left knee.


“Everything’s pretty much back to normal,” Tavares told a Buffalo radio station.  “I was cleared last week to resume full activity, so I skated with the (OHL) London Knights as they’re preparing for the Memorial Cup for three days and three practices, and I feel really good."


“I’m just happy I’m able to put this behind me, move forward, and look toward next season."


Tavares is looking forward to starting his training program to get ready for the Islanders 2014-15 NHL season.


 

 

Isles Notes:
 

Per Arthur Staple, "Before I wade knee-deep into NYR conference finals coverage, have not heard any news on Isles and Halak other than "still talking."

As for Pokka, I believe he is on the Finns' reserve list for Worlds... Either way, understanding is Isles will make an offer on 5/25."  Pokka would need to be signed before June 1st to remain an Isles prospect.



Per Chris Botta, Barroway and Wang have a verbal agreement in principal on sale price per Isles.

UPDATE:  Andrew Barroway has lined up partners/financing for prospective $400 million Isles buy. Up to Wang now. Details here. 
 

See Eric Boulton, Calvin de Haan, Anders Lee, Matt Martin & Ryan Strome at the Isles Draft Party on Friday, June 27th @ 5:30pm. Free tickets are now available for what is most likely the "final" Isles Draft Party at the NVMC.  Get your free tickets here 


Chris Botta, "The Edmonton folks talking up Griffin Reinhart to the Oilers is all kinds of embarrassing, awkward and not-right."

 

Sound Tigers Notes:


Chris Langkow Agrees to One-Year Deal.

 

IIHF Notes:


Game 4:  Isles, Brock Nelson scores twice as Team USA falls to Latvia, 6-5.



NHL Notes:


Former Islanders fan favorite, Zenon Konopka has been suspended for 20 games for violating the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program.

Per The Hockey News:

Konopka: "I accept full responsibility for this error...I am responsible for what I put in my body, and I am to blame for this mistake."

"I ingested a product that can be purchased over-the-counter and which, unknown to me, contained a substance that violated the program."

"I want to stress, however, that I did not take this substance for the purpose of enhancing my athletic performance."

"I apologize to my teammates and to the Buffalo Sabers organization, as well as to my friends and family."

"I have learned a great deal from this experience, something I hope to be able to share with younger players."

"I will accept this suspension and continue to work hard to prepare for the 2014-15 season."



Per Ken Campbell, "An agent I spoke with today thinks salary cap for next season will be $68 million-$70 million, lower than projected $71.1 million."



Tuesday, May 13, 2014

MVP Reinhart & Oil Kings Are WHL Champions


After going to down 2-0 in their series against the Portland Winterhawks, the Edmonton Oil Kings won three straight to play in game 6, but they failed to close out their opponent.  They would be forced to play game 7 in Portland.  But under the leadership of their Captain, Griffin Reinhart, the Oil Kings won their second WHL "Ed Chynoweth Cup" in three years with a 4-2 road win over Portland.




 

Most outstanding player award winner, Reinhart saw his team take the lead and then lose it in the championship playoff series, yet they remained confident in each other and rallied to perform when it mattered most.  Their team resilience was called "character-built," by a team mate. He described his team as one that never gave up on each other.  A team with a never surrender attitude lead by future Islander, Griffin Reinhart.  In the WHL playoffs, Reinhart had 13 points in 21 games. During the regular season he had 21 points in 45 games.  The Oil Kings have earned a spot in the 2014 Memorial Cup.
 
 
 
Members of the Edmonton media are already speculating on scenarios on how Reinhart could be traded to the NHL Oilers, ala Tavares to Leafs.  I guess Snow is doing something right.
 
 
 
Ready for Isles training camp?

 

 

 

Isles Notes:


Vote for Tavares, Okposo or Hamonic in the Isles Awards "Goal of the Year," here.  


Matt Martin won "Hit of the year," by popular fan vote.

 

IIHF Notes:


Team USA is 2-1. They are back in action on Thurs. vs. Latvia


Game 3:  Russia 6, USA 1. Abdelkader scores lone U.S. goal.


Game 2:  Brock Nelson earns an assist in a 3-2 comeback win vs. Sweden at the IIHF WC's. Team USA improves to 2-0-0 in Minsk.


Game 1:  Brock Nelson and Colin McDonald both scored for Team USA as they dominated Belarus by a 6-1 score in Minsk, Belarus.



Thursday, May 8, 2014

McDonald, Nelson, Donovan & Team USA


On Friday, Team USA will begin its quest to win the World Championship against host country Belarus at 1:45 PM.  New York Islanders' Colin McDonald, Brock Nelson and Matt Donovan were chosen to put on the jersey for Team USA and represent their country against some of the best players in the world (not currently in the NHL playoffs).


Right Wing, Colin McDonald played hard for the Isles this year with 8 and 10 for 18 pts. in 70 games, for an NHL career best.  Rookie Center, Brock Nelson was huge for New York scoring 14 and 12 for 26 points.  His composure and playmaking got him noticed by the fans and coaching staff alike.  In 52 games, Matt Donovan showed some strong defensive outings, netting 2 and 14 for 16 pts.  Donovan learned what it took to play as an NHL defenseman.
 

The Americans will try and improve on a Bronze performance from the 2013 tournament.  Per islanders.nhl.com, They "enter the tournament ranked sixth in the world by the IIHF and are one of the top three teams – along with Finland and Russia – in Group B. Latvia, Kazakhstan, Switzerland, Germany and Belarus round out the competition in Group B."  Their Full schedule can be found here.


 


Isles Notes:

 
Colin McDonald has been named Alternate Captain for Team USA.
 

There is no news to report on the Isles signing of Jaroslav Halak, though a few insiders are confident a deal will get done.  The question is when?


Brock Nelson named "Rookie of the year," by popular fan vote.



Stockton Thunder Notes:


STK defeats BAKO 6-2 in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals. Thunder now trail 2-1 in the series.  





 
 
 
 


Monday, May 5, 2014

Pokka Named Best Defensive Finalist


Aside from Griffin Reinhart, there is another prospect I want to see guarding the blue line on the Island next season.  New York Islanders prospect Ville Pokka has been named a finalist for the best defenseman award in the Finnish Liiga.  He finished the season with six goals and 21 assists for 27 points in 54 games with Karpat.  Pokka was the Isles 2nd round pick, 34th overall in '12.  His awards include an U20 WJC Gold Medal, SM-ligga best plus/minus trophy & SM-ligga Champion's trophy.

 

Along with Calvin de Haan, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, Ryan Pulock & Loic Leduc, Pokka should add another piece to a young, but talented defense core for the Islanders.  Other than adding top line free agents in goal and on defense, the development of these prospects are an important part of a rebound for next season. 

 



 

Isles Notes:


Ville Pokka has 4 years from his draft date to sign with the Isles, or they lose his NHL rights.  Thanks to Dominik of Lighthouse Hockey for the CBA link
 

We now present to you the second of our Isles Awards vote. Cal Clutterbuck Mike Halmo & Matt Martin are the nominees.  This time it’s up to Isles fans to decide the “Hit of the Year.” 


Summer deals continue this week at the Isles Team Store.   
 


Hockey Notes:


NBC Sports Network To Air Men's World Championship Games Live.


 
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May 4th was the 3rd anniversary for Knight of Cups. Thanks to my helpful colleagues, but most of all, thanks to my loyal readers.


Joe