We talked about possible forwards that will be available for the team to sign on July 1, and now we will see who might be available on the defenseman side of the free agent pool. Not nearly as as deep as the forward pool defenseman will be tougher for the team to attain this year. Lets dive right in and see what we come up with.
John Micheal Liles - Only 26 Years old Liles has yet to really come into his own in the NHL as of yet. He has a load of potential and there will be teams lining up for his services so this one is a borderline pipe dream, but hes not quite up to that level yet. He took a step back this season only netting 6 goals after scoring 14 in back to back seasons with the Avalanche. He should be at the top of Snow's priorities if possible. What would it take to get him? 5 years 25 million.
*** EDIT - Liles has signed a contract extension with the Avalanche***
Dick Tarnstrom - Now 30, Tarnstrom is another player who blossomed into a decent NHL puck mover and power play point man the second he left the Islanders netting 16 goals and 52 points for the Penguins in 2004. Injuries have derailed the last 2 seasons for Tarnstrom which may remove him from the radar of the top spenders this year leaving him to return to the team he played his rookie season for. What would it take to get him? 2 years 7 million.
Mark Streit - Another borderline pipe dream, Streit is 29 years old and is one of the reasons the Canadiens didn't miss a beat losing Sheldon Souray's 26 goals and booming shot from the point last season. Streit netted 13 goals and 62 points last season and will command a huge raise over his 600K salary last season. What would it take to get him? 5 years 20 million.
Branislav Mezei - Remember him? Still only 26 Mezei was one of the Islanders first round picks back in 1999 and has turned into a bruising defenseman, although some say his slow feet cost the Panthers some goals. Who couldn't use a 6'4" 240 pound bruiser on the back line to take some pressure of of Witt? What would it take to get him? 3 years 9 million.
Jason Smith - I am surprised the Flyers are letting him go to free agency considering the improvement the Flyers made last season. A natural leader in the Brendan Witt mold. What would it take to get him? 3 years 15 million.
HEY, YOU NEVER KNOW? FREE AGENT PIPE DREAMS -
Lets be realistic Islander fans. No matter how you feel about the teams job on draft day that has most NHL experts praising Snow, this team is still one arena and 2-3 years away from attracting anyone of significance to sign here as a free agent. I am still smiling over Islanders 2nd round pick Corey Trivino calling the Island a "great city to play in". All players know is the Marriott Hotel and a broken down second rate arena. All of the major free agents have submitted "wish lists" of the top ten teams they want to play for to their agents. Guess how many of them listed the Islanders as destinations at all? --Dean Wermer voice-- ZERO... POINT... ZERO... That's what potential free agents think of this organization, the arena and Long Island. None of these players, unless they have lived here know what life is like on Long Island because all they see is that dinosaur of an arena, a parking lot that looks like a bobm hit it and a hotel. All this being said, money talks. Here are the free agent pipe dreams the Islanders have before them this year and what it would take to lure them to come and play in that "arena" we call the Coliseum.
Marian Hossa (W) - He is the class of the free agent pool this year. Perennial all star and 90-100 point man and at the age of 29 will be looking for his huge payday right now. He also erased the thought that he cant play in the playoffs with his outstanding performance in the playoffs this year. He will draw interest from every big money team out there and I think ultimately and unfortunately the Rangers will be the team that gets him. What would it take to get him? 8 years 70 million.
Wade Redden (D) - Remember him too? At 31 he is a very good 2 way defenseman Redden is going to command a huge salary and a raise over his 6.5 million dollar salary last season. I personally believe Redden is over rated and over blown as the Canadian media likes to do with their home town heroes. I do not believe Redden is worth that kind of a commitment. Hes good, but not that good. What would it take to get him? 6 years 48 million.
Peter Forsberg (C) - If there was a category beyond pipe dream, this would be it. Forsberg may be one of the top 5 players in the world. Problem is he is made out of the same material that China Dolls are made out of. He wants to compete for a cup and the Islanders aren't even close. Hes 33 years old, but his body is 55. His stats are as impressive as he is fragile. What it would take to get him? 2 years 15 million.
Sean Avery (W) - I list this as a pipe dream because of what it would mean to all of the Ranger fans who have adopted him as their own son and new messiah of the team. Avery is 27 years old and we all know the type of player and person he is and what he has meant to the Rangers the last 2 seasons. Talk to any Ranger fan, and he is the reason not Jagr, Gomez, Drury or Lundqvist that the Rangers are so competitive. Is that true? Put him in Islander colors and lets find out. What it would take to get him? 5 years 20 million.
Its fun to dream isn't it? That is something that we have gotten used to in Islander country. Here is something to consider for next season. There is another phenom, another "next one" that is coming to the NHL next season. His name is John Tavares. All you have to do is Google that name and you will see that he is breaking some of Wayne Gretzky's OHL records. He is already projected to go first overall in next years draft. If there is any way the team can even get a shot at him then you know what I will take my lumps this year. Let hope that if the Islanders are going to stink, lets hope they stink enough to net us a shot at John Tavares.
"Hope.. is a dangerous thing inside these walls.. Hope can drive a man insane..."
-Red, The Shawshank Redemption
Dont we all know.