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

Saturday, May 20, 2017

New York Islanders Off-Season: Tavares, Belmont, Richardson & Barzal

So I’ve heard rumors on a few fronts that the Boomer and Carton show on WFAN mentioned the John Tavares extension is apparently done (terms), as well as an Arena deal, for the Islanders to make their future home at Belmont Park, and nothing has been confirmed because the team can't go public right now. Rumors of JT’s contract extension were speculated to be around the 8yr, $10M range a couple of weeks ago. Tavares is key to the Islanders success and everyone knows that his signing is the primary focus of the organization this summer. More rumors of the Islanders continued uncertainty at the Barclays Center is also an undying topic of discussion. Those rumors swirled around the team or host, Barclays Center opting out of their deal while currently in the contract renegotiation period. Rob Taub Tweeted, “Craig Carton on @BoomerandCarton just now said the #Isles building in Belmont could be ready by the start of the 2019-2020 season.” We must keep our collective ears open and wait for more details over the summer, at the Drafts and probably the Free Agency period to open before the Islanders give confirmation.

The New York Islanders confirmed Arthur Staples’ earlier hunch of adding Luke Richardson to their coaching staff is indeed true. Richardson will serve as an Assistant Coach under new Head Coach Doug Weight. Weight and Richardson were team mates while playing for the Edmonton Oilers in the early 90’s.

"Luke brings a tireless work ethic and outstanding character to our organization," Weight said. "He'll have his hands on every aspect of the team, including our systems, skill development and team culture. Luke's coaching experience, including four years running an organization as Head Coach in Binghamton, make him an excellent addition to our staff."  Let’s hope his hands can help the Isles horrible ability to convert on the man advantage and improve a 28th ranked PP unit. And he should certainly help bring more accountability to the Isles blue liners and infuse a new perspective within the D-group.

Richardson spoke about the need to achieve, per Staple, “We’ve talked about that a lot — we both want to win, we want to have success and neither of us would just hand someone a job because we knew them,” Richardson said. “Success is the biggest part for me. That’s the reason why I left my last job (with Binghamton in the AHL). At the minor-league level, winning and developing players have to work hand in hand. It can be hard to have the success you want.” Richardson wanted to be in consideration for the head coaching job with Ottawa that went to Guy Boucher. He also tried for the Sabers vacancy that went to Dan Bylsma and was also interviewed by the Ducks to replace Boudreau, that went to Carlyle (per Mike Halford of NBCSports.) Richardson has something to prove and he feels good about doing it with New York.

Richardson was an experienced NHL defensemen who played just over 1,400 games for six different teams (35 & 166 for 201 points) in his 21-year career with playoff experience and International medals (Gold and Silver) for Team Canada. Per Islanders press release, “Richardson coached Canada's National Men's Team to the 2016 Spengler Cup Championship. He also helped Team Canada to a runner-up finish as an Assistant Coach at the 2016 Deutschland Cup. The Ottawa, ON, native spent four seasons as Head Coach of the American Hockey League's Binghamton Senators from 2012-2016. Richardson was an Assistant Coach with the Ottawa Senators from 2009 to 2012.” Richardson was named the AHL’s Eastern Conference all-star coach in his second-year coaching Binghamton. Rumors also have Kelly Buchberger or Scott Gomez being considered as assistant coaching candidates. “Buchberger was seen watching Mathew Barzal with Weight during the WHL playoffs. Barzal was a beast as Seattle defeated Regina. 17th.” - Staple

On the player-acquisition front, the Isles-Kovalchuk rumors have not gone away. Elliotte Frieman mentioned the possibility in his “30 thoughts” column for Sportsnet. “It makes sense for them, although they will have to convince him they are going for it now. Russian sources believe Kovalchuk had serious interest in the Rangers, but a) I’m not sure of their interest, and b) I’m not sure they could pull it off if they wanted to. Sounds like Florida has also inquired. But, if he was interested in the New York area, why wouldn’t the Islanders try?” I’m not sure the Isles have the cap room to experiment on Kovalchuk’s chemistry with a team that needs to fine tune their roster right now.

Mathew Barzal, 19 was named MVP of the WHL playoffs for the Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL). Barzal helped the ‘Birds clinch their first ever berth in the Memorial Cup. He will lead his team against the Erie Otters (OHL) today with hopes getting one step closer to win a Mastercard Memorial Cup Title. The tourney host, Windsor Spitfires(OHL), Saint Johns Sea Dogs (QMJHL) are also competing in the tournament. Barzal (7 & 18 for 25 pts in 16 playoff games) was the New York Islanders 16th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. “I’ve had a couple of ups and down this year, getting sent back, losing the World Juniors,” said Barzal. “It just feels so great, especially to win with this group of guys.” Mathew Barzal should make a strong push for the Isles roster for next season along with Ryan Pulock, Michael Dal Colle and an eager to return, Josh Ho-Sang.

I’m sure we will be privy to more events going down over the next week or so. I’ll be off the grid for a short while, recovering from surgery, but I’ll try to remain active on Twitter.  Consider following me if you don’t already under the @Knight_of_Cups_ tag.

In the meantime, the Islanders continue to be on the clock heading into the 2017-18 season.

Time-check please.

Isles Notes:

Islanders vs. Rangers preseason game set for September 22nd at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport.

Per Elliotte Friedman, “Could see Detroit with interest in Calvin de Haan from the Islanders, who would be worried about losing him in the expansion draft. He’s been very solid at the Worlds.”

Thomas Hickey is also a name that is thrown around for the expansion draft.

IIHF Notes:

With Team USA (Lee & Nelson) and Team Germany (Seidenberg & greiss) eliminated by Finland and Canada, Isles prospect Ilya Sorokin wasn’t in net today, but his Team Russia was also eliminated from the tournament in a 4-2 loss to Calvin deHaan and Team Canada in the Semi-Final round.

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