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

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Islanders Off-Season 2015: Leblanc, QO's & Tyler Gianchetta

Louis Leblanc, 24, signed a one year/two-way contract with your New York Islanders.  Leblanc, the former 1st round pick (18th overall) of Montreal in 2009, had 14 & 15 for 29 pts with AHL’s Norfolk (Edmonton) last season. He should provide some solid depth to the organization with the Sound Tigers and be given a chance to improve his skating and overall game.  Arthur Staple adds, “Isles now have 4 of the top 18 picks from the 09 Draft in the org: Tavares, de Haan, Leddy and Leblanc.”  Leblanc earned USHL & ECAC rookie of the year, All-Rookie Team honors.  In international play, Leblanc won a silver medal with Team Canada (3 & 4 for 11 pts in 7 games) at the 2011 World Junior Championships.

Mike Halmo and Kevin Czuczman accepted their qualifying offers, Brock Nelson and Kevin Poulin did not.  A deal with Brock Nelson (20 & 22 for 42 pts in 82 games last season) will get done, but Kevin Poulin may not have the leverage required to stay in the Islanders organization.  Especially with the way Parker Milner and Stephon Williams played in Bridgeport last season.  The BST started the 2015-15 campaign with Kevin Poulin and David Leggio, but then made changes.  Milner, a former two-time champion with Boston College, went 4-2-0 with 2.95gaa and a .905 Sv% in eight games with the Sound Tigers last season while Williams was 3-1-0, 2.12gaa and 936Sv% after a stellar outing with Minnesota State at 25-6-3.  In any event, despite not signing their QO’s, Nelson and Poulin’s real deadline is the start of training camp on 9/17.  The Islanders have an organizational rule that a player who doesn’t sign by the start of camp sits out the season, ala Sean Bergenheim.

Tyler Gianchetta is a super fan of the New York Islanders.  On Wednesday, he and his mother Susan were involved in a car crash.  Despite having a broken wrist from the impact of the accident, he pulled his mother from the burning car on the Island before authorities arrived on the scene. An act of courage for anyone who finds themselves in his kind of situation.  "I am not a hero until my mom is OK," Tyler Gianchetta said.

Tyler told me his Mom had successful neck and hip surgery yesterday and is recovering comfortably today.  I know Tyler from his presence on Isles social media.  He handled himself in the crash just like he faces the challenges of Autism.  With courage.  And be sure he is a loyal and passionate Islanders fan who is all about supporting his team.

But today, Tyler had a message for Garth Snow, the Islanders team and his fellow fans everywhere.  “One of their biggest fans would love if they could pray for my mom and send their support however they can. I know they have to focus on their own stuff, but it would be great to know that I have their support.”

Isles Notes:

Final game from Isles mini-camp:  Team Blue 7, Team White 4 @AWQuine scores four goals, including a natural hat trick in the third period.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Islanders Off-Season 2015: Blue & White Scrimmage At Barclays Center

After a day of rookie camp yesterday, your New York Islanders prospects met at the Barclays Center & competed in the teams’ annual Blue & White scrimmage. 6,311 fans came for a game on a Wednesday night to see the top prospects in the system compete.  They gave the fans a sample of what they can bring to the organization by showcasing their skills in the inter-squad game. Players like Michael Dal Colle, Joshua Ho-Sang & Ryan Pulock joined top 2015 draftees, Mathew Barzal & Anthony Beauvillier in the game.  Goalies, Ilya Sorokin (visa issues) and Linus Soderstrom (hip surgery) missed rookie camp.

Garth Snow mentioned how he felt about the teams prospect pool, "We feel that we’ve built a team through the draft now that can compete with any team on any given night."

Despite the White team’s puck possession early in the game, it was Otso Rantakari (Salerno & Quine) scoring for the Blue squad just 5:07 into the first period.  Camp invite, Miks Indrasis (Bertrand & Barzal) gave Team Blue a 2-0 lead in the second half of the period.  Adam Pelech showed up and brought his grit with a few nice physical plays and fellow BST, Stephon Williams was solid in net for the Blue team.  Kevin Lankinen played well in net for White despite surrendering 2 goals.

McAdam for Blue and Lankinen still in net for White to start the second period.  Sam Anas puts it up high to give Team Blue a 3-0 lead early in the 2nd period.  The White team gets a PPG off a sick feed from behind the net from Josh Ho-sang (Song) to Griffen Molino for the goal, 3-1 the score.  Sebastien Collberg (Barzal & Dal Colle) adds one and its 4-1 Blue off a really nice passing play to net the tally.  It’s the second assist for Barzal.  Undrafted, Sam Anas tucks in his second goal from behind the net for Blue to make it a 5-1 score.  Josh Ho-Sang sets up Anthony Beauvillier with another high light reel play to make it a 5-2 game after 2.

McAdam still in for Blue and Anthony Pupplo in net for White to start the third period. After some back and forth by both squads, Team White continued the pressure until they had a 5 on 3 chance for 1:27.  Joshua Ho-Sang to Anthony Beauvillier tallied again to make it 5-3 game late in the game.  Ho-Sang (Ole) chants rain down in the Barclays Center from the Isles faithful.  Team Blue defeated Team White by a 5-3 score in regulation.

In the skills competition, Hardest Shot was up first and Ryan Pulock ripped one at 105 mph. John Schaivo, a top roller hockey pro scored a sick lacrosse style goal in the shootout competition and Otso Rantakari netted the overall advantage for team Blue, for an 8-3 win.

Highlights included the play making of Ho-Sang, Barzal, & Dal Colle and a dark horse like Anas working hard to make an impression on the coaching staff.  Beauvillier was tenacious and looked lethal in front of the net while Indrasis should get signed to at least make some more noise with the BST.  I liked what I saw (when the stream wasn’t crashing) of D like Pelech & Rantakari.  Ryan Pulock didn’t have his best game, but Sebastian Collberg had some flashes of what Snow had spoken about when he acquired him in the Vanek trade.  Williams was solid in net to start for team Blue and McAdam got better for them as the game went on.  To me, Ho-Sang edged Beauvillier for the game MVP.

We can’t lose sight of the fact that it was a prospect game, but because it was, you can see some of the talent that will soon be fighting for a roster spot.  And once again, it makes me pleased to see how deep Snow has made the Isles system.  This doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to add a veteran or two on both sides of the puck, but I just don’t see it happening unless the right guy is available for the right price.  The Isles have built through the draft and added pieces here and there and they are much better because of it.  How much better will they be this season?  We shall see what they look like to start the season to have a better guess.

Isles Notes:

Former Isles goaltender, Anders Nilsson (Blackhawks) has been traded to the Edmonton Oilers and signed a 1 way NHL contract.

Some interesting side notes were the Barclays center boards were free of ads, the seats along the glass are 3’ higher than other NHL arenas. The Isles experimented with an alternate view of obstructed goal for affected fans on Jumbo Tron.

Per Rob Taub, “Aiden Salerno, John Schiavo : Blue, Michael Gilroy and Mike Marnell: White are the four players from LI playing in tonight's game.”

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Islanders Off-Season 2015: Free Agency, Part 1

Yesterday, day one of free agency opened and your New York Islanders announced 3 deals by 12:15pm.

They quickly addressed their need for a backup goaltender by signing 6’1, 220# Thomas Greiss to 2-year, $3 million contract. Greiss was with Penguins last season posting a 9-6-3 record in 20 games with a 9.08 Sv% and 2.59gaa.  It’s the 4th NHL team for Greiss who has also played for his native Germany on the international stage.  Credits include the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics, the 2010 World Championships and the 2004, 2005 and 2006 World Junior Championships.  Pierre LeBrun, “Kings made strong push on Greiss but he went with Islanders instead.”

I always thought Greiss was a good fit for the Islanders and his analytics matched the kind of guy they were looking for to back up Halak.  They either passed on Neuvirth or he wanted to play for Philadelphia based on the hope of becoming their starter.  Neuvirth got a two-year deal worth $1.5 M in year 1 and $1.75 million in year 2 which was comparable to the deal Greiss got from the Islanders.

Arthur Staple announced that the Thomas Hickey deal was made official. Hickey agreed to a 3 yr. contract extension worth $2.2M per.  Hickey was added off the waiver wire on January 15th, 2013 from LA and has filled in on the Isles blue line admirably in the roles he has been asked for.  Per, “Hickey led all Islanders defensemen in games last season (81), set a career high in assists (20) and matched his career high in points (22).”  Hickey has 7 & 41 for 48 pts in 202 career NHL games for the Islanders. He has played for 2 gold medal teams (08 & 09) for Canada internationally and served as Captain in 2009.

Finally, 6’3, 225# F, Kirill Petrov agreed to a 1 yr, standard entry-level contract with New York.  Petrov was the Isles third round selection, 73rd overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft and has played in the KHL since 2006.  Petrov had 5 & 10 for 15 points with Kazan Ak-Bars of the Kontinental Hockey League last season. Per, “Playing parts of nine seasons in Russia’s top hockey division, Petrov has tallied 125 points (61 goals, 64 assists) in 318 games with Ak-Bars and Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk.”  Petrov has represented Russia 3 times in international competition.

Petrov was thought to be an early first round talent, but slipped in the draft due to his contractual obligations in the KHL.  The Islanders took a gamble and although he hasn’t reached that level in the K, they hope to see if his perceived potential will blossom with the chance to play with a much improved New York line up in the NHL. 

After the first two days of the free agency period, it seems very possible that Petrov & Pulock may be the only other roster additions the team makes.  This is unless an opportunity opens up via team’s cap issue or low cost trade for an Isles type of target.

The Islanders are about $10M under the cap and still need to sign F, Brock Nelson, so they still have some valuable cap space looking into next season.  The rumors of their desire to trade Michael Grabner (13 pts in 34 games in 14/15) and off load his $5M salary ($3M cap hit) are said to be true by insiders.  Especially after undergoing his second sports hernia surgery last season and seeing a decline in his “speed” game.  With these variables, the ability to now move Grabner is sure to factor into the future plan and is probably a limiting factor on the possibility adding another player via trade.

Isles Notes:

It is most probable that guys like Boulton, Kennedy, McDonald & Visnovsky have most likely been passed over for a future with the team and won’t be resigned.

Islanders sign six to two-way deals to restock the sparse forward cupboard and add/renew contracts in Bridgeport. 

Matt Donovan signed with Buffalo.

Aaron Ness signed with Washington.

Kael Mouillierat signed a two-way deal with Pittsburgh.

Brett Gallant signed with Columbus.

UPDATE:  Colin McDonald has signed with Philadelphia.


Check out the new shirt from my friends at Isles Army.