Thursday, July 23, 2009

NY IslandersSign Martin Biron, What Gives?

Islanders GM Garth Snow is playing Poker again and he is not showing his hand again.

The Islanders have signed former Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Martin Biron. That my friends is a good thing, not a bad thing.

On the surface there are no negatives about the signing. What lies underneath however is another story.

Lets look at the surface then we will delve into what lies beneath.

First of all if Biron is on the Islanders he is obviously not on the Flyers. Everything I have read about Biron is that he is excellent in the locker room and a real team player that other players want to be around.

Why in God's name the Flyers did not try to work something out with Biron is beyond me. They sign Ray Emery who could not even get a job in the NHL last season and Brian Boucher and left Biron to twist.

There is no way Biron would have signed with the Flyers for the same offer and what he has done is make himself very attractive to possible trade teams if Rick DiPietro manages to come back to the Islanders healthy.

Fans of the Orange Crud do not agree and they are angry and I cannot blame them. They did not replace Biron with Patrick Roy, they replaced him with Ray Emery which is a roll of the dice on its best day.

Islander fans were concerned about the age of Dwayne Roloson. Well those concerns have been silenced by this signing.

Now lets get to what lies beneath.

There are only a few reasons for this deal to be made. Any one of them could be true.

1 - Despite what all are saying Rick Dipietro's health is obviously not what they are saying and his multiple knee and hip surgeries as well as his multiple concussions have taken their toll on Rick. If he cannot come back strong and healthy from this latest of three knee surgeries Rick will call it a career and retire.

Rick also just got married and as all married guys know I am sure his new bride does not want to see him risk further serious injury if his body cannot handle the rigors of the NHL.

DP would not be the first big NHL star to have to retire well before his time because of multiple serious injuries.

2 - Garth Snow wants to show DP who is running the show. Make no mistake. Garth Snow and Company were not happy with him last season when he insisted he was healthy and sat on the bench at the start of the season. It made them look bad like they could not or would not stand up to their biggest star and tell him to shut up and sit down.

Well, he came back way to early and injured himself again and would up in the operating room again, twice.

Rick is under contract for another 12 seasons for 54 million. No matter what you say that contract alone can make you feel as if you run the place. He can't be traded. He can't be bought out. The Islanders have another 4 years left to pay off their last long term buy out in Alexei Yashin.

What the Islanders can do is remind him who is boss by flexing their muscles and showing Rick who runs the show.

He can be put on waivers. He can be sent to the minors. They can make it a very long 12 years for Rick and now he knows it.

3 - Garth and Company already know DiPietro isn't coming back or if he does only has a year or two left in him.

This is all speculation but what if doctors have already told Rick that he cannot count on his knees and/or hips holding out long term? What if they told him he only has a couple of years at best with all of the surgeries he has had?

We all love the way DP plays with fire and passion. He made a commitment to the Islanders long term. He loves it on Long Island and wants to be a part of a winner. He throws his legs and arms and body around with reckless abandon in positions that quite frankly would put any one of us in the hospital if we attempted.

What if all of this has taken its toll on DP and severely shortened his career?

Why else do you sign two NHL veterans and draft 2 more goaltenders?

4 - It makes the rest of the available free agents - Hello Alex Tanguay realize the Islanders are in it seriously to become a winner sooner than later.

You know the Islanders are set in goal. if you are a free agent looking at the team, you see perhaps the next great phenom in John Tavares, you see very solid goal tending, you see an organization that seems to finally have its on ice agenda in place and sticking with it and you also see a plan in place for a sparkling new arena that appears to be imminent.

Maybe that pushes you towards the Islanders and away from Florida and Phoenix.

Which of the above do you think are true?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Looking Ahead: Free Agency and Beyond

The draft is behind us and so is the initial surge in free agent signings. There has been a lull in the free agent market and a few names that could really help the Islanders in the short and long term.

Who is left worth taking a shot on?

Todd Bertuzzi, LW - Why? Size, strength, goal scoring ability and he should come cheap given his penchant for injuries.
What would it take? - 1 year 3 Million.

Alex Tanguay, LW- Here is a guy that I cannot believe is still available. Either his agent is asking for stupid high money or general managers are scared of his injuries the last two seasons. Tanguay is still young at 29 has great play making ability and can score. Snow should go after him.
What would it take? - 5 years 24 million.

Travis Moen, LW/RW - Banging forward that can skate. Energy guy with an edge. What would it take?
2 years 2.2 million.

Nick Boynton, D - The Islanders have some depth at D but Boynton may be coming into his own at 29. Eats minutes and is reliable in his own end.

Beyond these guys, there isn't much that's attractive out there or should I say suits the Islanders. Playing GM for a minute I would offer contracts to Bertuzzi and Moen and test the water with Tanguay.

Looking forward to the season the Islanders aren't expected to do much. This is where I am going to disagree with the people and there are a lot of them who will predict the Islanders to finish at or near the bottom of the NHL again.

I am not predicting the Islanders to make a miracle playoff run here but I think challenging for one is not out of reach. The main reason for this is simple -

Golatending - Dwayne Roloson. Say what you want about Roloson's age but the fact of the matter is he is an excellent goaltender and does not have a lot of miles on him. He has backstopped Edmonton to respectability in recent years after coming into prominence with the Wild. Roloson will bring stability to the Islanders in net whether Dipietro is ready or not and will play to a 2.80 Goals against and a .915 save percentage.

Yan Danis and Joey McDonald last season were just fill ins in a lost season and this season Roloson changes all that. The Islanders do not have a question mark in net anymore.

Depth at Goaltender -
1. Dwayne Roloson
2. Rick DiPietro
3. Scott Munroe

Defense - When Healthy the Islanders ice a good to very good defense core.

We all marveled at the skills of Mark Streit last season and he will be the centerpiece of the Islanders defense again.

Brendan Witt and Andy Sutton will provide the crease clearing hard nosed presence.

Oft injured Radek Martinek can be a serviceable defenseman if he can manage to stay healthy. It remains to e seen whether Freddy Meyer and Bruno Gervais can hack the NHL level as last year was a step back for Gervais. One more addition through the free agent market would be wise.

Defense Depth Chart -
1 - Mark Streit
2 - Brendan Witt
3 - Andy Sutton
4 - Radek Martinek
5 - Bruno Gervais
6 - Jack Hillen
7 - Freddy Meyer
8 - Andrew McDonald

At Center, the Islander Roster is set. Doug Weight will provide the veteran leadership.

John Tavares and Josh Bailey are the 2nd and 3rd line centers unless someone switches to wing. If someone does switch to wing then another acquisition would be warranted at the center position because the health of Doug Weight is an issue.

Frans Nielson could be the wild card as he has show flashes of offensive skill and only extended ice time will reveal whether he will be a main stay or just another fill in player.

Depth Chart -
1 - Doug Weight
2 - John Tavares
3 - Josh Bailey
4 - Frans Nielsen
5 - Nate Thompson

At Wing, the Islanders have some exciting prospects. Kyle Okposo is still just that, a prospect. This could be the year he blossoms getting a full season playing with natural play makers Josh Bailey or Doug Weight.

Its also make or break time for Sean Bergenheim. Either he turns into the offensive threat he has hinted at or its time to move on.

The same can be said for Jeff Tambelini who has been a major disappointment at the NHL level.

Veteran Trent Hunter, who is a favorite to become the team captain will be back to provide his usual 15-20 goals.

I really liked what I saw out of 6'4" Jesse Joensuu last season and he should start the season on the Islanders unless he tanks in camp.

Trevor Smith, Richard Park and Tim Jackman round out the bangers and grinders.

Joel Rechlicz is Snow's chosen one to be the protector of the future of this team in Bailey, Okposo and Tavares. Hopefully he will be up the task as he will be tested. Tim Jackman can provide support,m but he is not a heavyweight.

Blake Comeau started the season in Scott Gordon's doghouse last year and quickly whipped himself into shape making himself valuable again.

It is the Winger position, take your pick of LW and RW where the Islanders need the most help. Add one or two of the names above in the free agent section and maybe you have got a team that can contend for a playoff spot.

Depth Chart -
1 - Kyle Okposo
2 - Trent Hunter
3 - Sean Bergenhiem
4 - Blake Comeau
5 - Jesse Joensuu
6 - Jeff Tambelini
7 - Richard Park
8 - Tim Jackman
9 - Joel Rechlicz

As you can see the winger position is by far the Islanders weak link. Sign Tanguay and Bertuzzi that gives you play making ability from the wing, goal scoring from the wing and size to clear some room for the skilled centers.

Whether the Islanders can or will do this is any ones guess but I would love to hear the fans thoughts.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Free Agnecy 2009: New York Islanders - Day 1

As we all expected The Islanders were not huge players in the free agent market but did fill a glaring need and did so with in my mind the best free agent goaltender available.

Dwayne Roloson carried the Oilers at points last season, most notably in the last two months of the season. Yes he is 39, but he is signed for 2 years at an absolute bargain at 2.5m per season. He sported a 2.77 GGA and a .915 save percentage. He is also friends with Rick DiPietro as the two have shared goal tending coaches in the past.

Snow made a great move here.

So after the frenzy yesterday, what is left out there?

Alex Tanguay - Tanguay picked a bad season to get injured because i had him on my fantasy team and he happened to become an unrestricted free agent this year. Snow "overpaid" for Mark Streit and I would love to see him do it again with Tanguay.

Todd Bertuzzi - We all know his story, he will come cheap for a guy with his skill. Its worth a shot.

Andre Roy - The Islanders need toughness to protect the young players. There isn't much out there in the way of toughness unless Snow wants to sign Mike Tyson next week.

Jet Ortmeyer - Would fit perfectly with Scott Gordon's system the only problem is, he can;t score either.

Brendan Morrison - He is a play maker and can play any position. The only problem with this is he is a natural center and may not want to play wing. I would prefer Tanguay but Morrison has got skills.

We will update tomorrow with who else if off the board and update our want list.