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

Monday, August 14, 2017

New York Islanders Off-Season: Islanders Prince Out 4-6 Months and Gionta Remains an Asset

The Islanders announced today that Shane Prince will be recovering from surgery to correct a high-ankle sprain and is slated to miss 4-6 months. He tried to play through the nagging injury last season, but it never fully healed despite trying several different ways to rehabilitate the injury, his pain and injury only got worse.

In 50 games last season, Prince had a career NHL high with 18 points (5 & 13), but struggled to remain healthy.  Per release, “After notifying our medical staff he was referred to specialists, who after trying more conservative measures determined that it was in Shane's best interest to have surgery.” Surgery has been completed and Prince is looking ahead to a more complete work out to start his season in ’17-18, and although it will be a later start than desired, he is optimistic.

“Did my best to play through it last season and also let it heal this off season but surgery was needed. I will be back healthy asap! #Isles” - Shane Prince on Twitter.

Without Prince in the rotation, the high-end prospect pool and available trade market may get an extra look or two at the start of the regular season.

On August 8th, the New York Islanders re-signed Stephen Gionta to a one-year, two-way, $650K/$225K (Staple) (NHL/AHL) contract.

The 33-year-old Gionta filled in for 26 games last season with the Isles and showed everyone around him just how hard he works to play his game. He tallied 6 points (1 & 5) and made his presence felt whenever called upon, winning over support from the coaches and fanbase. Gionta worked just as hard with Bridgeport (3 points in 7 games) and earned another contract with New York. Gionta will be a strong back up player for the Isles and can be called upon to fill a variety of roles. He is certainly a great asset to have with the Sound Tigers of the AHL.

Per release, “Gionta has seven points (three goals, four assists) in 24 Stanley Cup Playoff games, all during the Devils 2011-12 run to the Stanley Cup Final … Internationally, Gionta won a Bronze medal with Team USA at the 2013 World Championships (Sweden & Finland), scoring three goals in 10 games. Gionta scored two goals in six games while representing Team USA at the 2001 U18 World Junior Championships (Helsinki).”

Isles Notes:

Joe Dowd: Bet the ranch, Isles skating to Belmont.


Sound Tigers Notes:

The #SoundTigers have released their most extensive promotional calendar in team history for '17-18! Spoiler: I intend to be at the Star Wars Tribute Night on 12/2 again, this time with the 501st Connecticut Garrison. Be sure to stop by and say hello to the 181st Tie Pilot ;).

#TI13222 #NoQuarterGiven #BST #BridgeportDeep

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

New York Islanders Off-Season: Islanders Extend Calvin de Haan, Avoid Arbitration

On 7/31, Elliotte Friedman wrote, “DeHaan (NYI): team offer -- $1.95M...Player ask: $5M. Still time to settle.” We all know de Haan is worth more than $1.95M, especially on the open market for Defensemen, but a business is a business. de Haan was set for an arbitration hearing today. Not anymore.

The Islanders announced Calvin de Haan agreed to terms on a one-year, $3.3M deal (Staple). In his 4th NHL season, de Haan put up highs in points (25), goals (5) and assists (20) while playing in a healthy and productive, 2016-17 campaign for New York.

"Calvin is a home-grown product of the organization and has developed into one of our top defenseman during his time with the organization," Islanders President and General Manager Garth Snow said. "He plays important minutes for our club and we're excited to have him back for one more year." 

de Haan was the Isles 12th selection, 1st round in the Tavares 2009 draft year. Since then, he has tallied 271 NHL games (11 & 58 for 69 points) along with 3 assists in 16 playoff appearances from the Isles blue line.

de Haan has been guilty for mistakes in inopportune moments over his his first few seasons while becoming an NHL regular on defense, but to me, he has gotten better each and every year. Beyond the stat sheet, de Haan has become a more comfortable and smarter blue liner, and that showed big-time last year with 2nd highest points and assists totals on the team and a high ranking NHL stat (4th in blocked shots - 190) recognition. He's now eligible to go into the 2017-18 off-season as a UFA if not locked up prior to July 1st.

Per B.D. Gallof, “de Haan's 1 year deal at 3.3 keeps +3.65 million in cap room for this year, and a whopping $35.5 next yr as players go off contracts #isles

de Haan was awarded a Silver Medal with Team Canada at the 2017 World Championships to go along with his 2010 and 2011 WJC Silver Medals.

On 7/27, the Islanders announced a One-Year, Two-Way Deal for F, Connor Jones.

Jones got noticed in the system with Bridgeport after his 4 season, 129 point run (49 & 80) at Quinnipiac University. With the AHL Sound Tigers, Jones had 5 and 14 for 19 points in 58 games and had a reputation for a hard-nosed, relentless work ethic. 

Jones finished the season and filled in well with the Islanders, helping them with a late play off push that ultimately fell short. He was a part of the Isles strong 5-0 finish to the regular season in April.

Isles Notes:

Adam Pelech, "I'm really excited to be part of this team moving forward."

Per Jim Baumbach, “Don't expect comments by Isles, Oak View or Wilpons' Sterling Project Development re Belmont for while. They're studying RFP & strategizing.”

Monday, July 24, 2017

New York Islanders Off-Season: Islanders Extend Adam Pelech

Adam Pelech had been a mainstay for Bridgeport for the last few years and needs more fine-tuning to his NHL level game. But he also earned his NHL minutes and looked comfortable after his call-up to the Isles last season. Today, our New York Islanders agreed to terms on a one-way extension with the tough defenseman, fresh off his entry-level deal. Pelech was selected in the third round (65th overall) by the Islanders in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Remember when Isles country went nuts when Snow had Pelech on the teams protected list for the NHL Expansion Draft? Well that very same Pelech signed a four-year, $1.6M AAV (Staple) contract. I mentioned at the end of June, “The Isles blue line looks like this. Leddy, Boychuk, de Haan, Seidenberg & Hickey. Ryan Pulock now has a real opportunity to make the team out of camp and more will be expected of Adam Pelech and Scott Mayfield for sure. Do not forget about Devon Toews, especially after the year he had with the BST.” There it is.

Pelech took a skate to the face, and returned in a win against the Rangers in January of 2016.

He’s in the plan on a low-cost, 4-year deal. A deal that “could” get some serious mileage out of a “possible” cornerstone, defensive-first blueliner. It will also help the Isles with the de Haan arbitration plan coming soon & Hickey’s next deal heading into the summer. I think he will have a chance to grow (much like Hickey & de Haan) into his future self with a more clearly defined role and under a similar, but a new-look coaching staff. It’s obvious that Cronin shares Snow’s enthusiasm on what Pelech can bring. An opportunity to show (along with Mayfield and Pulock) what he is capable of as a rostered, regular on defense.

"Adam has proven at a very young age that he's capable of playing an important defensive role on our team," Islanders President and General Manager Garth Snow said. "He will be an important piece of our defensive core moving forward and I'm excited to watch him continue to develop at the NHL level."

The 22 year-old Pelech had 10 points (3 & 7) in 44 games last season in his rookie campaign with New York and 12 points (3 & 9) in 53 NHL games previously. He also had 5 points (1 & 4) in 13 games with the AHL Sound Tigers last season and totals 23 points (3 & 20) in 105 AHL games with Bridgeport.

Per Release, “On the international stage, Pelech represented Canada at the 2014 World Junior Championships and the 2012 World Under-18 Junior Championships, winning bronze in 2012. He also won gold with Team Canada-Ontario at the 2011 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge.”

Isles Notes:

Per Staple, “Pulock is not waiver-exempt this coming season. So #Isles will have 8 D who all need waivers.”

Per Andy Graziano, “#isles, per @CapFriendly, at 7.8 cap space with 13 F/5 D and 2 G. deHaan needs contract.”

“Best guess for de Haan arbitration, scheduled for next Weds, Aug 2 : team 3, de Haan camp 4.5. #isles

NHL Notes:

Thank you from former Isle, Kyle Okposo

Friday, July 21, 2017

New York Islanders Off-Season: Isles Promote Cronin, Extend Goaltender, Gibson

Our New York Islanders announced a re-alignment in their coaching staff today.

Defensive and PK specialist, Greg Cronin has been promoted to Associate Coach. Cronin has held the role of assistant coach since 2014 after being brought back to the organization from an Associate role with Toronto for 3 seasons. Cronin’s first stint with the team was as an Assistant (1998-99 through 2002-03) and BST coach (78-61-12) from 2003-05. Cronin took the Islanders from a dismal 3rd in goals allowed (3.09 goals/game) in 2013-14 to 8th (2.73 goals/game) in ‘14-15, then to 18th (2.57 goals/game) with a setback in ‘15-16 to 8th (2.90 goals/game). A flux in goaltending injury, inconsistency and key defensive injuries played a role in the Isles slip up last year, as did the distraction of firing Jack Capuano.  

But since Doug Weight’s take over, the Isles finished last year strong and missed the playoffs by only a point. Cronin was a part of that late success. Overall, his defensive personnel have been improving each year, and with it, so has the teams PK. Under Cronin, the Isles have gone from 26th (77.1%) to 4th (84.5%) to an 11th spot (81.9%) in a back and forth year for New York. The D will have a new look this year without Hamonic, and possible additions of Pulock with others in a regular role (Pelech, Mayfield, Toews, etc.), so the bar has been raised.

"Greg's hockey knowledge and experiences of over 30 years in the coaching profession are an asset to our coaching staff," Head Coach Doug Weight said. "He's run our penalty-kill the past several seasons and each year, it's been one of the best in the league. He has a tireless work ethic on the bench during games, at practice and in meetings. His desire to get the best out of every player, to help achieve our goal of winning is impressive and I'm thrilled to continue to work with him." Cronin served as Head Coach with Northeastern University from 2005-2011. He won the Bob Kullen Coach of the Year honors (Hockey East) in 2009, an NCAA Tournament berth and “compiled the greatest win total in a four-year span in NU history,” from the 2008-2011 season.

Per Release, “On the international stage, Cronin served as an Assistant Coach for Team USA at the World Hockey Championships in 1997, 2011 and 2012. In 2012, he helped guide the U.S. to a first-place finish in the preliminary round. He also was the founder, Director of Development for the United States National Development Program Under-18 Team and Head Coach of the Under 18 team. He also served as an Assistant Coach for Team USA's World Junior team in 1997 and 1998, winning silver in '97.”

On July 14th, the New York Islanders announced, goaltender Christopher Gibson has agreed to terms ($70,000 deal/ $80K guaranteed - $650,000 NHL cap hit) on a one-year, two-way (NHL/AHL) deal. Gibson, 24 came to the Isles in the Michael Grabner trade and has performed well in Bridgeport and made a little noise with the big club. He helped the Islanders clinch a playoff berth against the Washington Capitals in an exciting 4-3, O.T. win in April of 2016.

Last season, Gibson posted a 6-0-0 record with the BST with a 2.52 gaa and a .912 Sv% in an injury shortened, 7 game season. The deal will give Gibson an opportunity to show if he can continue to put up big numbers and stay healthy. As an AHL net minder, Gibson has a 54-34-9 record in 106 games with a 2.54 gaa, a .915 Sv% and four shutouts with the Marlies and Sound Tigers. He will compete for a spot against surging Eamon McAdam (Acquired through a pick via Niederreiter trade in 2013, 2nd year pro/ELC), who saw time in Bridgeport and Missouri of the ECHL last year, and newly acquired AHL vet, Kristers Gudlevskis.

Gibson was the 2nd round selection for the Los Angeles Kings (49th overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft. Internationally, he helped his native Finland to a bronze medal in the 2009-10 Under-18 World Junior Championships.

Isles Notes:

Per Brian Compton, “Pierre Turgeon tells me he's excited to join #LAKings coaching staff; will apply a lot what he learned from Al Arbour. #Isles

Check out the Swedish Islander, Magnus Larsson’s article on Isles beat man, Arthur Staple.

Former Isles Coach, Ted Nolan to coach team Poland.

Sound Tigers notes:

BST’s release schedule.

Worcester Railers Notes:

Veteran Forward Rome Signs With Railers

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

New York Islanders Off-Season: Islanders Add Buchberger & Brathwaite to Staff, Sign G Prospect, Gudlevskis.

Today, Our New York Islanders officially announced Kelley Buchberger will be an Assistant Coach on Doug Weight's staff.

The former NHL Captain and 18 year veteran, most recently filled the role of assistant Coach (6 seasons) and VP Player Development (2 seasons) with the Edmonton Oilers, along with a 1 year stint as Head Coach for the AHL Springfield affiliate. Buchberger won two Stanley Cups as a player with the Oilers in 1987 and 1990.

"Kelly adds years and years of NHL coaching and management experience to our staff," Weight said. "He is a tireless worker who commands respect behind the bench and in the locker room. I'm thrilled to welcome him to the organization."

Rumors of the Buchberger addition have been on the radar for a while. Arthur Staple had mentioned it in mid-May, “Buchberger was seen watching Mathew Barzal with Weight during the WHL playoffs. Barzal was a beast as Seattle defeated Regina. 17th.”  Along with Richardson and Gomez, Buchberger joins Greg Cronin as a part of the new-look coaching staff for the Islanders.

Yesterday, the Islanders also named Freddy Brathwaite as the team’s Goaltending Coach. Braithwaite will succeed Mike Dunham, who held the post for the last 11 seasons. “Want to thank #Islanders for the last 11 years. Time to spend more time with #family at home. It's been a blast #great memories! #goodluck.”

Staple mentioned, “Brathwaite was teammates with Doug Weight/Buchberger/Richardson in EDM in 1990s.” Brathwaite has worked with Team Canada’s goaltenders for the last few seasons. Brathewaite was a journeyman goalie in the NHL, playing 254 games for 4 teams (EDM, CGY, STL, CBJ) along with SYR & CHI of the AHL.

"Fred's experiences at just about every level of hockey make him a tremendous addition to our hockey club," Weight said. "Not only has he had a solid NHL career, but he's also worked with some of the top net-minder's coming out of Hockey Canada. He's ready for this next step and we look forward to him working with our organization's goalies."

Per Isles Release, “Ak Bars Kazan and Avangard Omsk of the Russian Superleague (now the Kontenential Hockey League) and Adler Mannheim of the DEL. Brathwaite won Goaltender of the Year Honors in the RSL in 2005-06 and won Player of the Year in 2008-09 in the DEL with Adler. Before turning professional, Brathwaite won a Memorial Cup in 1990 with the Oshawa Generals.”

And on the Bridgeport Sound Tigers news front, the Islanders agreed to terms with Latvian goaltender, Kristers Gudlevskis on a one-year, two-way (NHL/AHL) deal. Gudlevskis came to the organization from the TBL for forward Carter Verhaeghe via trade on July 1st.

Gudlevskis will add depth to the BST and fill a void left after the departure of Stephon Williams, who was not tenured a qualifying offer to remain with the Sound Tigers. Gudlevskis played for AHL Syracuse going 15-10-7-4 last season with a 2.65 gaa and an .897 Sv% in 37 games.

Per Isles Release, “On the International stage, Gudlevskis represented Latvia at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, the 2013 and 2014 World Championships, the 2012 and 2011 World Junior Championships and the 2010 Under-18 World Championships. He won a gold medal in 2011 (Division 1) and was named a Top Three Player on the Team in 2012 and 2013.”

Isles Notes:

Randi Marshal breaks down the Nassau County Isles hype.

Robert Brodsky and Jim Baumbach fan the Isles-Coli rumor flames.

Sound Tigers Notes:

The #SoundTigers have re-signed forward Josh Holmstrom to an #AHL deal.

The #SoundTigers will host @RocketLaval for the first time ever in their home opener on Sat, Oct 21.

Per Jeremy Rutherford, “The @TheAHL reports it "has made a commitment to an expansion applicant, which will see the AHL expand to 31 teams for the '18-19 season."

NHL Notes:

Sabres name Former Isles Assitant GM, Hockey Canada's Ryan Jankowski Director of Amateur Scouting.

Per Jon Rosen, “The Kings announce that they've hired Pierre Turgeon as an assistant coach under John Stevens. The staff is now complete.”

Per @Efawcett7,  “Connor McDavid, now the highest paid player in the NHL at $12.5 mil per, would have the 76th highest salary in the NBA this upcoming season.”

Hockey Notes:

Per IIHF, “Slovak legend Miroslav Satan is back in his country, this time to help the national team as GM.”

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

New York Islanders Off-Season: Aho Signs ELC & Sorokin Opens Door for Soderstrom

The New York Islanders probably had an idea they wanted defensemen, Sebastian Aho in their immediate plans. Just after being drafted by New York with the 139th pick in the 5th round, Arthur Staple mentioned, “Kautonen said 5th-round D Sebastian Aho, who is already 21 and just finished his fourth pro year in Sweden, could play in BPT next season.” Today, the Islanders validated that speculation and announced Aho has agreed to terms on a three-year, entry-level deal. It seemed to be next logical step after Aho terminated contract with Skellefteå AIK of the Swedish Hockey league.

Per release, “Aho, 21, posted career highs in goals (10), assists (20), points (30) and games played (50) with Skellefteå AIK of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) last season. He added two assists in seven playoff games, helping Skellefteå win SHL silver medal honors.” Former Isles prospect, Mark Katic had this to say about Aho after he was drafted, “(He) is a steal for @NYIslanders . He would make plays that would have me searching for the jumbrotron remote trying to rewind the live feed.”

Release, "Aho scored “60 points (15 goals, 45 assists) and a plus-8 rating in 152 career SHL games. He also played 49 career playoff games and helped Skellefteå win the SHL championship in 2013-14." Internationally, Aho has represented Sweden at the 2014 U18 (named a top 3 player) & 2015 U20 World Junior Championships. 

Aho should get his chance to impress in Bridgeport and try to play his way into a call up, or even more with a good showing in camp. You never know if trades happen or plans change for the Islanders heading into next season.


As rumored by @incarceratedbob on 7/1, Isles stud KHL, goaltending prospect, Ilya Sorokin is staying in Russia. At least for now. Its speculated that Sorokin, with 1 year remaining on his deal in the KHL, chose to sign on for a 2-year extension (was already signed for the 2017-18 ssn) in order to avoid an AHL stint while Thomas Greiss and Jaroslav Halak are under contract.

“Hockey club CSKA Moscow has reached an agreement to sign a new contract with the goalkeeper of the national team of Russia Iley Sorokinym. The term of the agreement is 3 years.

Over the past three seasons Ilia held for CSKA 100 matches, 65 of which army team won, achieving 93.6% indicators reflected throws, the safety coefficient and spending 1.47 19 games "zero".

The previous agreement with Sorokin in force until the end of season 2017/18.

The press service of CSKA PCC.”

In Goal magazine on Sorokin, “He plays an aggressive style, setting up well outside the crease – and utilizing a lot of backwards flow to make his lateral movements … In his rookie season, he had an astounding 10 shutouts in only 28 appearances – resulting in a .953 save percentage. He saw a bit more action this past season, and his numbers dipped to a .929 in 39 games.”

Sorokin plating for CSKA

The 21-year-old Russian is highly regarded as one of the best goaltending prospects outside of North America, but coming over to the NHL, the North American game does have a learning curve after coming from bigger ice for Russian and European goalies. Sorokin was in mini-camp last year and it doesn’t mean he is out of the team’s future plans. Contractually, I have no idea what options Sorokin might have written in, if he chooses to exercise that option to play for his NHL organization. The Islanders will still maintain Sorokin’s rights. He may just fade away like other "flaky" Russian prospects, or may just be bidding his time, wanting to start in the KHL for now.

Sorokin’s move also leaves the door wide open for Linus Soderstrom, another stud keeper prospect looking to get his shot. He has already expressed interest in fighting for an AHL or better roster spot when his obligations in Sweden are over. Soderstrom, who may have already been higher in the prospect ranking for Isles brass, has only one more year in Sweden, looked good in mini-camp for the Islanders and stood out with Eamon McAdam in goal during the Blue and White scrimmage.

Linus Soderstrom makes a stop in the 2017 Islanders Blue & White scrimmage

Isles Notes:

Per Arthur Staple, “Believe Calvin de Haan has filed for salary arbitration. Sides can continue talking contract of course.”

Nothing new on John Tavares extension at this time.

Per @NHLhistorygirl, “On this date in 1995, Mike Milbury was named the sixth head coach in #Isles history.”

NHL Notes:

Per Bob McKenzie, “$12.5M AAV for McDavid, eight year deal, per GM Peter Chiarelli.”

Per @Efawcett7, “Connor McDavid, now the highest paid player in the NHL at $12.5 mil per, would have the 76th highest salary in the NBA this upcoming season.”

Saturday, July 1, 2017

New York Islanders Off-Season: Open to Free Agency

Our New York Islanders entered Day 1 of free agency with rumors that they would do very little surfacing across the internet. John Tavares is taking his time to re-sign with New York and fans were anxious from the Noon lift off, waiting for an announcement. Per Chris Botta, “John Tavares wants to commit long-term to the Islanders. He'd like to have an idea of where the team will be playing. Seems fair.” We had no news on JT’s renewed commitment, but we had a few minor, depth moves and prospect signings on the day.

The New York Islanders acquired G, Kristers Gudlevskis from the TBL for F, Carter Verhaeghe (acquired in Grabner deal).

6’3, 218# Kristers Gudlevskis posted a 15-10-7-4 record last season for the AHL Crunch, with a 2.65 gaa and a .897 save percentage in 37 games. Gudlevskis has played internationally for his native Latvia (gold medal in 2011), was named to the 2015-16 AHL All-Star game and appeared in one National Hockey League game last season with the Lightning, 1-0-1 overall in the NHL, with a 1.37 gaa and a .959 SV%. He is said to be an athletic prospect who still needs to refine his top-level game, once very high on the TB prospect chart, but struggled lately and seemingly frustrated with his chances in the Lightning organization. Rumors had him considering to play in Russia next season.

Islanders have agreed to terms with D, Seth Helgeson on a one-year, two-way contract.

6’4, 210# Seth Helgeson, 26, had a goal and 3 assists and a +1 rating with the NHL Devils in 50 games over the last 3 seasons. He has been up and down from Albany since the 2014-15 season. He is a big, physical stay-at-home defenseman whose puck skills have improved over the last few years, primarily as a passer and set up man.

Islanders have re-signed D, Kane Lafranchise to a one-year, two-way deal.

6’1, 200# D, Kane Lafranchise has been a steady, two-way defenseman for Bridgeport over last two seasons. The +17 Lafranchise, 29, had career highs in goals (5), points (21) and tied a career-best 16 assists in his first full season (67 games played) with the Sound Tigers in 2016-17.

Islanders sign C Scott Eansor to a 1 year, AHL deal. Played with Barzal at Seattle (WHL).

5’9, 174# C, LW, Scott Eansor was a team mate with Mathew Barzal in Seattle of the WHL, totaling 18 & 20 for 38 points in 40 games last season while serving as co-Captain and winning a WHL title. The 21 yr old Eansor showed his stuff (2 goals) in the Islanders Blue & White scrimmage on Thursday, and also played for the USA U20 team in 2015-16, helping Team USA secure a bronze medal.

Any more Day 1 updates will be added here.

Not to discount contributions by the Nelson’s, Lee’s and Bailey’s from last season, but the Devils & Rangers have both outpaced Islanders so far, since the NHL Draft. Ho-Sang, Barzal & Pulock aside, Eberle can’t be the only major move. I hope.

On the other hand, The more you see these deals and the term involved, the more you get the GM not pulling the trigger despite needing to get better.

It’s far from over and there is still time, but news of the Tavares extension would do a lot for everyone's sanity.

Isles Notes:

Per @incarceratedbob, “Source: Buzz in Islanders ORG that Russian G prospect Ilya Sorokin will not come over to play for #Isles #KHL after 2018.”

Friday, June 30, 2017

New York Islanders Off-Season: 2017 Free Agency Preview

Noon ET on July 1st is the start of the NHL free agency period. So tomorrow afternoon, our Islanders are on the clock to see if they make any more moves. Arthur Staple mentioned that Snow would probably not be doing too much tomorrow. “The Islanders’ eventful expansion and NHL Draft week has turned to a quiet week after. Don’t expect much to change when the opening bell on NHL free agency rings Saturday at noon.” I think the biggest question on adding a free agent would be the worth the roster spot over a Barzal, Ho-Sang or Pulock as well as the cost of a free agent acquisition against the Cap. One could also argue that the Isles need to win this year and go past the 1st round to keep a Tavares in play and that would mean a prospect should not be relied upon due to risk. A second liner and veteran D are all the buzz.

After the moves made at the expansion draft and the signing of Jordan Eberle, Snow has around $9.4M (Cap Friendly) remaining under the Cap. That doesn’t include the qualifying offers extended to Adam Pelech & Calvin de Haan (Connor Jones, Christopher Gibson.) What that means, is that Staple is probably more right than not. It also means the Isles will need to make a trade or two to free up more cap space if they want to add a “top 6” forward or veteran D-man after the bell rings tomorrow. Rumors are present and names have been dropped, but the Isles could do absolutely nothing until the season gets closer. Wouldn’t the fans love that. They could wait until the right deal finds them or they can simply announce contracts they need to fill before the season starts and ride out the wave into the start of the 2017-18 season.

The John Tavares announcement is rumored to be tied with a new arena in Belmont Park. It’s also possible that JT waits to see a little more than just the Eberle addition to commit long term. The Impending $13M McDavid extension rumor may add fuel to JT’s salary fire, or Tavares may take his earlier report $8-10M rumored deal and work with the organization to add more pieces than pad his pocket. A home-town discount similar to what Steven Stamkos did in his last negotiation with Tampa Bay. Only time will tell.

But IF the Islanders do make a trade or two, adding a piece or two they feel will help the Tavares signing and strengthen the team beyond its current incarnation, the right fit in skill, personality and price is necessary. Not knowing, I can only speculate on what is in Snows head. It’s safe to assume, the Duchene saga is all but over, unless time will weaken Sakic’s resolve with an unhappy distraction in his line up for Colorado. If that happens for the Isles, it must be a deal without Barzal in play. With harmonic gone, I agree with the experts, it’s a very unlikely probability Duchene becomes an Islander. Especially with other teams actively in the mix as we speak. And with Hamonic gone to Calgary, it’s even more unlikely. 

This just in per Brian Lawton:

“Working on 2 rumours involving @EdmontonOilers Draisaitl @Avalanche trade for Duchene & @SanJoseSharks interest in him. Lot of moving parts!” 

So there’s that.

That leaves a select list in my mind. Valuable, lower cost, skilled players that will add without taking too much back in return. That cannot be an easy deal to pull off with a GM not named Peter Chiarelli. For me, only a few players would help the Isles more than the players they already have without breaking the talent pool or salary cap bank. Rumors of Isles showing interest in Justin Williams and Andrei Markov are known, but what will they or anyone else cost them?

My unlikely, but fun to speculate dark horses could be an aging 35 yr old Joe Throton ($6.7M) or 45 yr old Jaromir Jagr ($4M) if they somehow agree to a greatly reduced, cap friendly, 1 year deal. Both are older, but have the experience and could still produce in the short term. Thorton (7 & 43 for 50pts in 79 games) & Jagr (16 & 30 for 46 pts in 82 games) have the size and hands to still get points. Radim Vrbata has always on my want list, but at 36, can he still (20 & 30 for 55 pts in 81 games last season and a -18 rating with ARZ) be a fit with NY? Thomas Vanek scored 48 points with Florida last season, but former Isles chemistry aside, it’s just not worth the distraction and drama in my opinion.

Defensively, my addition would be 38 yr old, All-Star and Cup winner, Brian Campbell. Campbell (5 & 12 for 17 pts in 80 games with a +12) could be a stop gap on defense, currently with a $1.5M cap hit. If a 1 year deal could be worked out, he should be able to help the defensive scheme. I’ve always like Ron Hainsey, but at a $2.8M hit last season, the 37 yr old isn’t as much of a value with 4 & 13 for 17 pts in 72 games with a -8 rating.

If trades are made for cap space and the Isles want to add from outside the organization, the following guys make the most sense to me, if they could get them signed away in such a high-priced market:

#5 Minesota’s 6’6, 226# Martin Hanzal. At 30, Hanzal had a career high in goals (20) and 39 pts (Arizona & Minnesota.) Hanzal is hard to move off the puck and excels in the faceoff circle. An area in which the Isles are desperate to improve. Hanzal had a $3.1M cap hit last season.

#4 Pittsburgh’s 6’1, 196# Nick Bonino. Bonino had 18 & 19 for 37 pts last season and at 29, is still ready to add to his game. He is a face off and PP specialist. Wouldn’t that be a nice addition. But after coming off back-to-back Cup wins, Bonino may be looking to also add to his $1.9M cap hit from last season.

#3 Columbus’ 5’11, 200# Sam Gagner, 27 had a career high 18 & 32 for 50 pts in 81 games last season. Gagner is a solid two-way player with an offensive flair. He will most likely be looking for a big raise after his $650K pay day last season and probably won’t want to leave CBJ if they want him back.

#2 Washington’s 6’1, 188# Justin Williams is a 3-time champion, known for his secondary scoring touch and clutch play-off acumen. He had 24 & 24 for 48 pts last season in 80 games with a +14 rating. Williams, 35 had a $3.25M cap hit last season. B.D. Gallof reminds us, “Both Ladd & Weight played for Carolina in 2005-2006 with Justin Williams. Chimera and Williams played on Caps 2015-16.”

#1 Montreal’s 6’1, 210# Alex Galchenyuk is 23 years old and had an off year last season, going 17 & 27 for 44 pts in 61 games. Prior to that, he tallied 56 points and with Montreal looking towards Markov and Radulov, there could be a way to land Galchenyuk, who had a $2.8M cap hit last season. And New York is a big sports market, but it’s not Montreal.

Let’s see what the next few days bring.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

New York Islanders Off-Season: 2017 Blue & White Scrimmage

Tonight, our New York Islanders had their Blue & White scrimmage at the Norwell Health Ice Center Isles practice facility in Eisenhower Park. It was a fitting culmination of the team’s mini-camp, where prospects and invitees (and Islanders’ Ice Girls) take the ice for an inter-squad game to showcase the possible future of the organization. Everyone obviously anxious to see names like Ho-Sang, Beauvillier, Barzal, Dal Colle, D. Toews, Bellows, McAdam & Soderstrom take the ice. Arthur Staple said Isles goaltending prospect, Ilya Sorokin was not attending prospect camp and is still slated to play his last season in the KHL this year.

For this year’s Islanders training camp, I would expect the highly talented Mathew Barzal and Ryan Pulock have a shot to make this year’s team (along with Adam Pelech & Scott Mayfield) and help offensively, and on the blueline and special teams right from the start. Anthony Beauvillier, Kieffer Bellows and Michael Dal Colle are forwards that will work hard to make an impression. Brian Compton was quoted “… he (Bellows) plans on playing one season in Portland. Wants to play in NHL in 2018-19.” BST Goaltender, Eamon McAdam was also involved in the tournament. He went 15-8 in Bridgeport last season with a 2.90 gaa and an .897 Sv%.

AHL, All-Rookie Defensemen, Devon Toews and SHL, title winning goaltender for HV71, Sweden, Linus Soderstrom were the reported standouts from this week’s camp. Toews showed blistering speed, a complete defensive game and league leading 41 assists last season with the Sound Tigers. He may be closer than some people think for a call up to the NHL if he keeps playing at the level he did last season. “He’s played himself into a great conversation,” Weight said of Toews. “We have some great depth on D and it allows you to do some things like we saw last week. Confident kid, great skater, puck mover. When you play like that you’re going to get a look for sure.”

6’4, Linus Soderstrom gets a chance to take center stage with Sorokin not at camp and Isles fans should be excited about the talent he may bring to the Isles net for the future. Soderstrom had the best goals-against average in the Champions HL, with a 1.34 over 22 games. “He started as a backup goalie with his club team and by Christmas he was the starting goalie, which I actually thought would happen,” Isles head scout Vellu Kautonen said of Soderstrom. “He’s getting better every week, every month, every time I see him. His focus has always been there, he competes. They won the club championship and he was a big part of it. His numbers were great. One more year in Sweden and I think we have an NHL goalie." Soderstrom was excited to be a part of camp. "The Islanders are a great organization. Everything is first class and I'm just loving every second of it here."

Last year’s late-season difference maker, Josh Ho-Sang also made news early this year, for all the right reasons. Ho-Sang embraced a leadership role early on, sharing his BST and Isles on-ice experience with the other guys at camp. He also looked ahead to making the Islanders for the upcoming season, promising that he will do all he can to impress the coaches and earn a spot. “I want to be one of the best players at camp. For me it's about coming in and being an exceptional player on both sides of the puck.” Ho-Sang also showed his excitement for the acquisition of Jordan Eberle, calling him “a top right-wing in the league.”

Most of this seasons' draft picks are in attendance, most notably D, Robin Salo, the Isles 46th pick overall. It should also be noted that Alex Vukota, son of former Islanders enforcer and soul player Mick Vukota, was invited to camp to showcase his defensive abilities. 

Tonight’s event would feature 3 different games. In game 1, its Blue Team vs White Team, in game 2, its Team Blue vs Team, Blue-White and the White Team vs the Blue & White Team in game 3. Rosters could be found here thanks to Cory Wright.


Game 1: Josh Ho-Sang, Dalton Hunter, Ryan Hitchcock and Micah Miller (ENG) scored for Team Blue in game 1. Eamon McAdam looked solid in net for the Blue squad. Brett Macrones made it 4-1 and Kieffer Bellows scored in the final seconds for Team White. Team Blue took the win by a 4-2 score.

Ho-Sang, Barzal, Miller and McAdam played well for Team Blue. Bellows had some nice moves for Team White.

Game 2: Ho-Sang, Kubiak, Jordan, Hitchcock scored for Team Blue in game 2. Wotherspoon scored for Team Blue-White. Team Blue won by a 4-1 final.

Ho-Sang, Hitchcock played well for Team Blue again. Wotherspoon was impressive for Team Blue-White.

Game 3:
Eansor scores 2 in the game for Team White. Marnell scored for Team Blue-White with the goalie pulled. Team Blue won by a 2-1 score.

Soderstrom played a good game in net, especially late in the game and Eansor was very good for Team White. Meyers and Wotherspoon were impressive for Blue-White.

Skills Competition:


Ho-Sang denied by Mitens, Barzal denied by Soderstrom, Bellows stopped by Mitens, Dal Colle stopped by Soderstrom, Vande Sompel denied by Mitens, Beauvillier flubs against Soderstrom.

Hardest Shot

Bellows – 63mph, 61mph & 91mph, 96mph (off net), Quennville – 71mph, 91mph, Jordan – 91mph, 87mph, Toews – 96mph, 96mph (off net), Hanson -91mph, 99mph, Salo – 86mph, 85mph. Apparently, gun was off net and Bellows was permitted to reshoot.

Breakaway (Mundinger and Jaillet-Goalies)

Contest was way too fast to track. Apparently, White made a comeback and outscored Blue, 5-1 to win the night.

Standouts on the night:

OK, it wasn’t an easy scrimmage to follow with a raw broadcast, bad audio and video drops, but I did my best. There were several players who did a lot of things well, but a few really made me notice them. Josh Ho-Sang had 4 points on the night and contributed in the skills competition, dominating as expected. Mathew Barzal played exactly as advertised. He was good in both zones and made things happen on the ice. Ryan Hitchcock looked at ease and played a big role for team Blue’s successes.

Kieffer Bellows looked much stronger this time around. Scott Eansor looked solid in game 3, scoring both goals for his team. Anthony Beauvillier, Michael Dal Colle and Devon Toews made some noise as well.

Parker Wortherspoon was everywhere and really got noticed on defense and in the offensive zone. Remember his name.

Eamon McAdam and Linus Soderstrom stood out among the goaltenders, making big saves and looking positionally sound. As expected.

Prospects looked good, especially when you have a mix of juniors, college, elite, premiere and high school players all holding their own. And they played an entertaining game that was fun to watch.

Free agency opens on Saturday and Arthur Staple just mentioned Garth Snow is not expected to be major player in free agency. It needs to be all about winning and keeping JT happy in a Post-McDavid, extension era. We could hear of JT's contract extension and an Arena deal announced soon, as previously discussed. Opportunity may come for something bigger than expected in the market or on the trade front. Barzal and Pulock may indeed fit the immediate plan while Nelson and Pelech are relied upon to step up, but there needs to be another move or two coming for the Islanders.

Per Arthur Staple, “#Isles have reached out to pending UFA Justin Williams, according to his agent. Long list of suitors, would be an interesting fit.”

Per Andy Graziano, “Told #isles had a 'conversation' with Radulov reps, more focused on trade front right now.”

Onto Saturday and into the rest of the summer. Let’s see where this goes. It’s been fun so far. Let’s hope it stays that way.

Isles Notes:

The Islanders extended qualifying offers to Connor Jones, Adam Pelech, Calvin de Haan and Christopher Gibson.

Per Staple, “Just catching up, believe #Isles did not make qualifying offers to D Loic Leduc, D Jesse Graham, D Matt Finn and G Stephon Williams.”

Per Arthur Staple, “Kelly Buchberger is at #Isles prospect camp, announcement of his hiring to come later this week.”

“Greg Cronin is also there is his new role as associate head coach. Still an important staffer for Doug Weight.”

“And former NHL goaltender Fred Brathwaite is at camp observing and consulting. No word yet on whether he'll have a more permanent role.”

Per B.D. Gallof, "I just flat-out asked on Friday whether or not (JVR) was offered ... message that I got back from #isles was no."

BST Coach, Brett Thompson’s son, Tyce invited to NYR mini-camp in Greenberg, N.Y.

NHL Notes:

Per NHL Rumors, “Sources tell me Ilya Kovalchuk has put in a trade request to NYR and CBJ only. Those are 2 teams he would accept deal to... more to follow.”