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Where Will the Islanders Finish this Year?Photo from Flickr user adamlm
That’s the big question on my mind as the NHL season opens tonight.…View Post

Where Will the Islanders Finish this Year?

Photo from Flickr user adamlm

That’s the big question on my mind as the NHL season opens tonight.…

View Post

Islanders and Free Agency

So we’ve had the first day of free agency “frenzy”, which saw quite a bit of Islander news, so I wanted to get down a few thoughts.

First, the resigning of Nabakov. I was happy to see this for one big reason. Yes, Nabby had some issues during the season and then in the playoffs, but the Isles were looking down the barrel of Poulin being the top goalie on the roster, so Nabby makes for a nice fallback plan. I’m not convinced this is how the season will start, but I think Garth Snow had to get this duck in a row, and then see what happened with the roster post free agency before looking to upgrade through a trade. I simply don’t think there was a free agent goalie out there that would have been an unquestioned upgrade on Nabby.

UFA signings: Regin and Bouchard.
I liked them both, with caveats. Regin isn’t a huge signing, but gives the team some depth, and replaces Aucoin in the bottom six, for a small price. Bouchard seems destined to be the latest wing to play on the first line, the Isles seasonal contract offer to a guy coming off a down season who is capable of more. I think he probably plays as well, if not better than, Boyes. Possibly close to the production they got from Parenteau, but maybe a better defensive player, which that line needs. I just wish we had a clear first line player in the wings who we could look forward to playing alongside JT for years. Will that be Strome, Nelson, or someone else not on the roster, or will Okposo or Bailey make that jump? It’s definitely a hole on the team, and slapping temporary fixes won’t get us where we want to go. That said, Bouchard isn’t the worst temporary fix.

RFA Travis Hamonic gets paid.
I like this. Having an up and comer like Hamonic locked down for seven years at a reasonable price is the way to build the base of this team!

Is there another move to come? Probably, but it will be late, after teams have figured out where they are headed and what they need to address in a trade, or one of Garth’s infamous waiver wire pick ups.

What do you think? Thoughts, opinions, predictions, etc. welcome in the comments.

Most Important Position in Sports

With all due respect to quarterbacks, is there any question that hockey goaltender is the most important position in sports? With free agent signing period upon us, just think about the consequences of getting this position wrong.

Last year’s Flyers. Traded away Bobrovsky and went with Bryzgalov as their goaltender. Bob won the Vezina and almost got an offensively deficient Blue Jackets team into the playoffs single handedly. The Flyers didn’t make the playoffs and bought out Bryzgalov this week. They now either need to turn Steve Mason into the greatest reclamation project of all time, or find another goalie.

Not a good enough example, how about those Blue Jackets? So, so close to a playoff berth, which would only have been their second. The only year they had a playoff team, Steve Mason’s Calder winning rookie year. Every other year, even with a much more talented roster, poor goaltending kept them from being competitive at all.

Or, how about another goaltender who is being bought out this week, Rick Dipietro? He was an All Star goaltender and the face of the Isles franchise. He was all set to spend his career having the team built around him. Then he got hurt, then he got hurt again, and again, and again. More importantly than the long contract that seemed silly as the missed games piled up, the Isles fell apart without a decent solution in goal, for years. The high price of getting it wrong in goal.

Here’s hoping the promise shown by those same Islanders last season isn’t derailed by a poor choice in goaltending this year. It’s an open question going into the offseason, and getting it wrong will only set this team back once again.