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

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.

1 comment:

  1. Anders Nilsson is RFA, not UFA. While the Isles won't give him the one way deal he wants, they will qualify him to retain his rights.