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

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.”