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

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Your New York Islanders 2014 Draft Day Review

On Friday, the 2014 NHL Entry Draft took place in Philadelphia, and the New York Islanders were there to make a few waves. I think they did just that.  There was a lot of talk that the Isles could trade their first round pick.  But it turns out, Garth Snow wasn't impressed with what was being offered, so he would keep the pick and acquire a quality piece to add to the already deep prospect pool.  We all know the Islanders need a wing for the top line, a top pair defensemen and a quality back up goaltender before the start of next season.  Hopefully that can be taken care of when the free agency period opens on Tuesday.

But headlines were made on Friday when Garth Snow had some spirited things to say when asked about his decisions as a GM for the Islanders.  Per Brett Cyrgalis, Snow said, "They can't shit on me any more than they already do up there (in Canada).  "I care that we win. We get the players that we feel can help us win...and we don’t give a shit what anyone else thinks."  Nice.

With their 5th selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, your New York Islanders selected Michael Dal Colle.  The 6'2 LW is best known for his maturity and well-rounded game.  Dal Colle finished last season with 95 points (39g, 56a) in 67 games. He also tallied 20 points (8g, 12a) in 12 playoff games.  Eric Hornick points out that Dal Colle wears #71 in Jr play, a number worn only by Denis Vaske and Mark Katic for the Isles.  Dal Colle made headlines off the ice prior to the draft when the NHL network featured a touching story on his brother's serious condition and his mom's recovery from breast cancer.  Dan Savarino quoted Dal Colle as saying it was a dream come true to become an Islander.  He feels he is "almost there" when asked about playing for New York.  Tavares, Okposo & Bailey all contacted Dal Colle soon after being drafted to welcome him to the organization.


It turns out that Garth Snow wasn't done yet.  He sent the Isles #35 & 57th selection to Tampa Bay for their #28th pick to select Josh Ho Sang late in the first round.  Josh Ho-Sang has been called a top 5 player in talent, who lost ground in the rankings due to uncertainty of his commitment, focus and attitude as a hockey player.  After being questioned on selecting Ho Sang despite these reservations, Snow said that he (Ho Sang) would fit right in and that they (NHL Media) shit on him (Snow as a player) too.  I love it.  Clearly, Snow said Ho Sang was worth the risk.  He is probably correct in his assumption because Ho Sang has what has been called, "Immense talent" as a hockey player. Ho Sang said, "I'll give them everything I have, I'll push until I can't breathe," on his commitment to the Islanders for taking a chance on him.  On Instagram, he said, "So crazy blessed for the opportunities I have been given. So proud to be a New York Islander. I want to thank everyone who has been apart of my journey big or small, #justthebegining #grateful."  The talented RW/C tallied 85 points (32g, 53a) in 67 games last season with the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL.


On day #2, the Isles started the day by trading their #65 selection to Florida for their 3rd round pick in 2015.

At the 78th selection, the Isles took Russian goaltender, Ilya Sorokin from Metallurg Novokuznetsk.  A big positive is that the 18 year old Sorokin already has 40 games of pro experience from his play in the KHL.  He posted a .911 SV% and 2.90 GAA in 27 games this past season.

With the 95th selection, the Isles added goaltender, Linus Soderstrom from Djurgarden of the Swedish Jr. League.  Soderstrom posted a .915 SV% and 2.61 GAA with Djurgarden's U-20 team this past season.  At 6'4,  he seems like a viable replacement for what the organization had in mind when they drafted former Islander, Anders Nilsson.  Soderstrom said, "(I am) so proud to get drafted by the New York Islanders.  Extremely excited for the future!" 
Bill Both stated, "FYI Soderstrom is under contract for 2 more seasons & Sorokin for 3 more years."

At pick #108, The Islanders select defensemen, Devon Toews of Quinnipiac U.  Toews tallied one goal and 16 assists in 37 games for the QU Bobcats this past season.  Toews is not related to NHL player, Jonathan Toews.

With the 155th overall pick, the Isles select forward, Kyle Schempp from Ferris Sate University.  Schempp was good for 25 points (10g, 15a) in 43 games during this past season at Ferris State.  Schempp said it was "Unbelievable feeling being drafted by the New York Islanders. Can't wait to see what the future holds w/ a great organization & city."  He added that it was humbling and a great honor.


Then the Isles traded the 185th pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 200th pick, as well as the Lightning's 7th round pick in 2015.

With the 200th overall pick, the Islanders selected forward Lukas Sutter from the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL.  Sutter, Rich's son and Darryl's nephew, was drafted by WPG in 2012 but did not sign & re entered the draft this year only to be chosen later by the Isles.  This is similar to Kichton not signing with the Isles, re entering the draft and being selected later by WPG.

I thought the players the Isles added were good choices.  I am thrilled with Dal Colle & Ho Sang.  Dal Colle was the choice of most Isles fans I heard from on who they wanted if the Islanders used the #5 selection.  He is a complete player who has over come a lot of personal adversity to continue his hockey career.  Character (and skill) is something a team can never have too much of.  And much like when he traded up to draft de Haan in 2009 with Tavares, Snow made a move to acquire another highly skilled player in the first round with Ho Sang.  While some are comparing it to the move for Kabanov, I think the Ho Sang situation is different. Although Kabanov seemed to improve in attitude and get better as a player, he never seemed able to impress Management and prove he was ready.  Ho Sang has said all the right things and seems to have a chip on his shoulder to prove the other 29 teams wrong for not taking him. 
In addition, they added two highly respected goaltending prospects to the system for the future and some other valuable assets were garnered in later rounds.  Especially Lukas Sutter, who was originally a 2nd round, 39th overall pick of the Jets in 2012.  Snow has made some mistakes, but after inheriting a pretty sparse product from Milbury, has made some strong additions to this team despite limitations of draw and budget.  But there is a lot of room for improvement and I think this off-season could be different.  After signing Halak and going for Boyle, Islander fans can expect Snow to continue to be aggressive on July 1st, and hopefully add a few more crucial pieces to what could be one of the best line ups we have seen in quite a while to suit up in Uniondale.


NHL Notes:

The NHL salary cap for 2014-15 is $69 million.  A lower number than projected, while the floor is $51 million.

My thoughts are with Gino Odjick and his family during this difficult time.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The 2014 NHL Entry Draft: Isles Edition

With the NHL Draft set for Friday, your New York Islanders are looking to upgrade their current player roster.  Whether it be by pick or trade, the Isles should do well with the results of the day.  Per B.D. Gallof, "The only ay the #5 pick is dealt by Isles they are able to move forward - otherwise they will pick at that 5th spot.  Isles no longer rebuild comfortable, accumulating picks.They need to laser select a quality NHL prospect OR gain quality player thru deal."  The option to move back is there as well, but the drop off is said to significant later in the round.  A few weeks ago, I gave my choice for NHL goalies, defensemen & forwards the Isles should make a play for in free agency or by trade.

6/25 UPDATE:  Per Arthur Staple, "Isles have been working the phones since 12:01 AM to touch base with numerous FAs, Matt Niskanen and Brad Richards believed among them.  As to one of their own players, appears that Isles RFA Anders Lee will be taking his QO on a one-year deal for next season."

If Garth Snow keeps the 5th overall pick & with Aaron Ekblad off the board early, my drafting choices are:

Sam Reinhart, C, Kootenay, WHL.  At 6'1, 186#, Reinhart is calm attacker with good vision, hands and instincts.  He has captained 2 gold medals with Team Canada and scored an impressive 105 pts in the WHL last season.

Michael Dal Colle, LW, Oshawa, OHL.  Another big forward at 6'2, 183#, Dal Colle is a strong skater who plays a solid two way game.  He has been named OHL all-rookie, OHL all-star and has a 2013-14 Gold Medal with Team Canada.  In 13-14, Dal Colle scored 95 pts. in 67 gp.

Nicholas Ritchie, LW, Peterborough, OHL.  At 6'3, 236#, Ritchie is a prototype power forward who has great agility & can skate well in addition to his physical game.  He had 74 pts in 64 games last season.

William Nylander, RW, Sodertalje/Div 2-Sweden.  Described as "Dynamic," the 5'11, 181# Nylander is a skilled player with great hands who can use his speed to distribute the puck very well, but needs improvement defensively.  With seven different league & Intl. teams last season, Nylander totaled 53 pts. in 81 gp.

Adrian Kempe, RW, Modo Jr., Sweden-Jr.  The 6'2, 187# bullish LW has a tenacious work ethic and an imposing physical game with a solid fore check.  Kempe's heavy shot was good enough for 52 pts. in 88 games for Modo & Intl. play.

My outside shot is Thatcher Demko.  The top ranked North American goaltender from Boston College.  This U.S. born keeper has 2 internation silver medals and secured a solid 2.24 gaa with a .919Sv% last ssn in 24 gp.


Snow has also hinted that he is willing to move the 5th overall pick if the right deal can be made.  If quality prospects are packed with that pick, the Islanders could get themselves a key piece to their playoff puzzle.  It's unlikely that guys like Strome, de Haan or Lee would be moved, but rumors of rostered players like Josh Bailey could add the necessary value to close the deal.  Per Darren Dreger, "NHL gm's say Islanders forward Josh Bailey is a trade target. 9th overall in 2008. Under contract thru 2017-18. Would take a lot to get him." 

After signing JaroHalak, Garth Snow traded for Dan Boyle's rights in hopes of adding a top defensemen to the roster, but that doesn't seem to be happening.  On 6/18, Pierre LeBrun revealed on Twitter that, "Isles GM Garth Snow says he's now shopping Dan Boyle's rights, having been unable to sign the pending UFA defenseman."  Darren Dreger added, "Told Boyle is intrigued by Isles offer and interested, but remains undecided. Still firm on a 2 year deal."  Dreger continued, "For the record, the Islanders did offer Boyle a 2 yr deal. Not sure on the $, but he's likely to make upwards of $5 mil per as a ufa."  Hopefully Snow can flip his negotiating rights, even though time winding down fast. The Isles should look to add a quality D-man via trade and look to free agency for a top forward.  

It was also revealed that Snow attempted to re-sign Evgeni Nabokov as Halak's back up.  Per Garth Snow on Nabokov, "We offered him a 1 year deal that he turned down. It looks like he will become a free agent."  With Nabby moving on, Snow will need to look elsewhere for a solid back up to share some of the burden in net with Halak.  Not adding Boyle or resigning Nabokov is OK with me. I respect both as players, but there are better fits available by trade or FA for Isles.  Don't forget that Ray Emery was an Isles target on July 1st of last year and the team is familiar with Al Montoya.  These guys aren't on the top of my list, but they may indeed get a look.

Teams with a surplus at a specific position or an unhappy player are the way to go for Snow and the Islanders to make a deal.  It is also important to keep in mind that current Isles defender/s could likely be moved with a healthy Visnovsky & Reinhart most likely joining the team.  It's unfortunate, but guys like Donovan may find themselves on the bubble.

With names like Hiller, Raanta, Vokoun, LaBarbera, Giguere, Lindback, Niskanen, Parenteau, Jokinen, Koivu, Thorton available as free agents or not being offered contract extensions, there will be opportunities for other teams to make a play for their services.  For what its worth, there are rumors that players like Evander Kane, Patrick Sharp, Dion Phaneuf are being shopped around for a trade as well.

With the new CBA, as of June 25 at 12:01 a.m. ET, teams can now start talking to pending UFAs from other clubs ahead of July 1.  While no formal offers can be made before July 1, it does give GM's a chance to see who is interested.

Isles Notes:

I'll see you at the NVMC for the Islanders 2014 NHL Draft Party on Friday June 27th @ 7:00 pm.  Ryan Strome and Calvin de Haan will be on hand to sign autographs on the concourse outside the teamstore.

Isles will visit @NHLDevils on October 2 at 7 PM for a preseason game from @PruCenter. Also faceoff Sep 26 @barclayscenter.

To download your New York Islanders 2014-15 schedule to your phone, tablet or computer, click here.

Taylor Cammarata has been invited to USA Hockey's world junior evaluation camp.

Per Chris Botta, "Said on SBJ podcast that Barroway/partners trying to buy 80% of Isles. Some took it to mean he's paying 400 mill for 80%. Uh, no.  Charles Wang's valuation of the Islanders franchise is $400 million."

As draft day got closer, teams announced that certain free agents would not be re-signed and news spread of others wanting to be traded.  Jason Spezza wanted a trade from Ottawa, but not to the NYI or FLA, CBJ, NSH.  They were all on his no trade list.  Why the Isles would want a declining and often injured Spezza is beyond me anyway.  It was another jab at the organization's ego, but hardly an issue.

NHL Notes:

Chicago Blackhawks will be the Washington Capitals' opponent at the 2015 Winter Classic. 

Blake, Forsberg, Hasek, Modano, Burns & McCreary elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Management & Coaching Changes On The Island

Today, your New York Islanders made some changes to their front office and coaching staff.

Well, probably not the changes you may have been expecting.

Greg Cronin has been brought back to the organization as an Assistant Coach for the Islanders.  Cronin served as an assistant with the Isles from 98-99 thru 02-03 with Goring, Henning & Laviolette and was the head coach of the AHL affiliate, BST from 03 thru 05.  Per Arthur Staple, "Cronin, 51, spent last 3 years as Leafs assistant alongside Scott Gordon and six prior seasons as Northeastern U. head coach."  Cronin will try and upgrade the Isles 29th ranked PK for next season.  With Toronto, the Leafs were ranked 28th with Cronin on the staff.

Cronin will join Assistant Coach and newly appointed Assistant General Manager, Doug Weight on the Isles coaching staff.  The organization also officially added Bob Corkum as an Assistant Coach with Matt Bertani on Head Coach Jack Capuano’s staff.  Per Adam Proteau, "Jack Capuano interviewed 4-5 assistant coach candidates before picking Greg Cronin. Capuano told THN "trust and integrity" were paramount."

The coaching deck has been re-shuffled.  Feelin' lucky?




Isles Notes:

Per Arthur Staple, "Have not heard anything concrete from either side, but Isles may be looking to flip Dan Boyle's rights to another team this week."

Per Anthony Stabile, "Final Draft order set, Isles hold picks 5, 35, 57, 65, 78, 95, 108, 155, and 185. As of right now."

Come out to donate blood at the Draft Party on 6/27 & earn a voucher for Isles tickets next season. 

Fans attending the 2014 Islanders NHL Draft Party at the Nassau Coliseum on Friday, June 27th will have a chance to dunk Matt Martin for charity.

NHL Notes:

Per John Shannon, "Hockey Far from over: June 16: Buy outs start June 22: Schedule June 24: Awards June 25: FA Talks can begin June 27/28: Draft July 1: FA Day."

Per Bob McKenzie, "Buyout period started 12:01 a.m. today. Player must be waived to be bought out unless he has NMC, in which case it can occur w/o waivers. There are regular buyouts (count against cap) and compliance buyouts (not counted against cap). Rome's buyout in DAL is a compliance buyout."

Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, reportedly is seeking a three-year contract worth $18M.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

No Sale And Boyle's Status.

Last Friday, Lou Pellegrino and Sportsnet posted rumors that the sale of the New York Islanders from Charles Wang to Andrew Barroway was complete on Twitter.  Shortly afterwards, his account was deleted and the opinions of fans & media exploded.  David Pagnotta added, "Confirmed by another source, sale of Islanders to Barroway group is not done, nor is it close."  Steven Marcus posted, "Andrew Barroway, asked to comment on report saying he has bought Isles: "Sorry, I cannot talk yet.''  I need a credible Isles or NHL insider to confirm sale, but to me Barroway's "yet" no comment speaks volumes.  Rumors continue to swirl around the possible sale of the team during the off season and although credible reports are made available from time to time, there are also mistakes that are made in the media.

The possibility about Dan Boyle signing with the Islanders has been a big topic of conversation since his rights were acquired by Garth Snow on June 5th.  Andy Strickland broke some news a few days later that cast a shadow on the hopes Boyle would sign, "There appears to be a very slim to no chance Boyle signs with the #Isles. At this stage of career he wants to play for contender ... No negotiations between Isles and Dan Boyle will take place unless he decides he wants to play there. Decision expected this week."  We will have to wait and see what happens.  Boyle is said to be speaking with individuals within and close to the organization before he makes his final decision.  If Dan Boyle doesn't want to sign with the Islanders, credit him for his transparency and up-front communication with the organization.  If the answer is indeed no, at least he will give Snow the opportunity to recoup a pick for trading his rights to another team and focus on acquiring another quality veteran defensemen.


Isles Notes:

Isles Blue & White Scrimmage tickets are available here.

Catch the @NYIslanders in Brooklyn as they take on the @NHLDevils September 26.

NHL Preseason Hockey comes to Bridgeport with Islanders vs Bruins - Oct. 3rd. 

Ex Islanders, Tom Fitzgerald, Bill Guerin, named assistant GMs of Penguins.


NHL Notes:

Per Chris Botta, "Source: NHL natl revenue approx. $3.7 billion this season. With new CAN TV deal, will be well over $4B next season. More in SBJ."

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Islanders Acquire Boyle's Rights

Per Arthur Staple, "Isles have acquired rights to D Dan Boyle from the Sharks for a conditional 2015 5th-round pick. Becomes a 4th if Boyle signs."

As a top defensemen on San Jose, Dan Boyle scored 12 & 24 for 36 points last season with a -8 rating.  He also added 4 points in 7 playoff games.  Boyle is a 15 year veteran who has played in at least 75 games in 9 of the last 10 NHL seasons and has 14 & 56 for 70 points in 107 career playoff games.

Per, "In 954 career regular-season NHL games with the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and San Jose, Boyle has 561 points (144 goals, 417 assists)."  Boyle is a four time All-Star and has a gold & silver medal in International competition for Team Canada.

Garth Snow traded for the 5'11, 190 pound veteran defensemen's rights in hopes of signing him before the July 1st open to NHL free agency.  Similar to the way he approached the courting of Jaro Halak, Snow wants time to negotiate with Boyle and his agent while selling him on playing an important role with the Islanders.  Even at age 38, Boyle was still playing top minutes on the sharks blue line last season and can still play defense at a high level. He and Visnosky (if healthy) could be great mentors to the talented pool of defensive prospects in the Isles system.

Per Arthur Staple, "George Bazos, Dan Boyle's agent, tells me he and Boyle had brief chats with Garth Snow, nothing substantive yet."

"Snow said trade not a sign of concern over Visnovsky. "If we sign Boyle, they'll both be on the No. 1 PP. We think that's a plus."

Rumor has it that Boyle is looking for a two year deal (Christian Arnold) and should demand a high price on the free agent market.  Snow has his work cut out for him, but if signed, Boyle can play a key role in New York and help players like John Tavares & Kyle Okposo take this team to the next level.

Boyles agent, George Bazos: "Dan wants to talk to some people he knows about Isles situation... He's made it clear to me he's open to any and all options," per Arthur Staple.  What fellow players have to say will have a big part in his decision to negotiate with the Isles. It will also be a challange to convince him to sign on with a young team that still has some work to do before they are considered a serious contender. 

But with the Islanders, Boyle will add the top defensive acquisition they so badly need & help support their back end in front of Jaro Halak.  In addition to his defensive talents, Boyle can contribute on special teams and stabilize the back end in key scenarios.  Even Snows worst critics have to give it to him for the second time this off season.  Big moves by the Isles GM and its only the first week of June.  A big statement prior to the relocation to Brooklyn.  Definitely a low cost gamble worth taking.  I love it.  Do you?



Isles Notes:

Per Daniel Friedman, Vanek while commenting on not succeeding with Plekanec while in Montreal: “I’m a big believer in chemistry. I went to the Island, got comfortable with Johnny & Okposo. Our line took off & then your game takes off."


NHL Notes:

Gary Bettman revealed that Dan Carcillo's suspension was reduced to 6 games.  He could be eligible to appear in game 4, Cup final.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Islanders Offseason: Top 5 Keys For A Successful '14-'15 Isles Season

There are several things that Garth Snow & the New York Islanders organization need to focus on this summer to avoid another failed campaign next season.  Signing Jaro Halak was big need that can be crossed off the list.  We all know that key goaltending, Defense and Forward need to be bolstered before next season.  But I want to reiterate a few things I feel are absolute fundamental necessities for the organization in order to take the next step & start to create a winning culture on the Island (and Brooklyn.)


1.  Accountability:

This point is huge.  From the coaching staff right down to a fourth line player, accountability has to be enforced for things to change with this team.  We all know that players like John Tavares can change the course of a game and that he has a tireless work ethic and hates losing.  Actually, several players share qualities like these throughout the current line up and show their mettle with how hard they can play.  But this sort of thing needs to be a constant and evident by example in every member of the coaching staff and the entire team.  Failure to play up to the expected standard should result in consequences.  Too often, we have heard about "passengers" and seen their play falter to the point of complete disarray and fail to adjust.  There should be no one that gets a pass if the current members of the team really want to win, continue to gain respect and change the image of the organization.  If anyone can not live up to what is needed, they should not be allowed to represent the crest.

2.  Consistency:

It has been the Achilles heel of the team since they started to show improvement over the last couple of years.  We have all seen the "Never say Dielanders" battle hard and fight their way back into a game or galvanize and rebuke each and every assault by the opposition to get back into the game.  Sadly, we have also seen many third period meltdowns and the team falter when they have a win within their grasp.  The power play & penalty kill needs to find a rhythm to be an asset or reliable defensive element of the Isles game to be a playoff team.  The coaching staff needs to manage the on ice product and give them the tools they need to succeed.  And as the players gain experience and the roster improves, we should see improvements in this area.

3.  Game Plan:

To the credit of the coaching staff, the Islanders have looked like "world-beaters" when they were able to execute the game plan and play to their strengths.  A speedy, aggressively physical game with a strong back & fore check is key when playing more talented teams.  While a balanced attack with all four lines, defense joining the rush and confidence in the defense is the other half of what the team has done well when they have played their best hockey.  All to often, the team didn't seem to be able to adjust to unexpected events or a couple of quick goals by the opposition.  Instead of following a formula that had brought them success, they seemed to unravel and fail to gain their composure.  The coaches need to perform their due diligence with film work, effective team practice and proper motivation.  They also need to be able to regroup when things fall apart and re-engage their players as individuals and as a team when necessary.  The players need to follow their leaders on the ice and execute their game plan, even when things get dicey.  Strong leadership from both sides of the bench can keep the Isles on point.

4.  Depth:

Last season, while the Isles could score, the glaring failures of the off season proved too great to overcome.  The thin defensive core and ineffective goalie carousel made it difficult to stay in and win games.  Although there was a measure of depth that proved itself late in the season, especially when the Isles fell from playoff contention with several call ups from Bridgeport, the Isles were undermanned with an experienced reserve.  A few key players like de Haan, Strome and Lee have the benefit of last year and should make a play to improve the Isles this upcoming season.  The buzz around the team is that the draft and free agency period will be busy for New York due to lessons learned last season.  We should see trades and an aggressive push on July 1st to add the pieces where they are needed most.

5.  Back End

Snow has addressed the biggest defensive hole in the form of a starting goaltender with the signing of Jaro Halak on May 22nd.  Even though a change in Halak's off season regiment has improved his ability to stay healthy, a quality back up or 1A signing must be made to complete the rebuild of the Isles in net.  A retooled line up on defense is also necessary to give more stability on the blue line.  Although a solid player, Visnovsky's health is a question mark for the Isles and should be a concern for management.  Hamonic, de Haan and Hickey are a great base for the Isles moving forward and even though some promising rookies look to make their mark in camp, more work must be done to add the final pieces on D.  Making these improvements could make the teams biggest weakness into one of their most reliable strengths.  Once complete, the balanced defense backed by veteran goaltending can bring the Isles back on the attack and set their offensive weapons to bear on the opposition.  Back end confidence will help a young team develop properly and win games.



Isles Notes:

Hear from #Isles GM Garth Snow on the Jaroslav Halak signing and more from his interview with @SiriusXMNHL.