With yesterday's acquisition of defensemen James Wisniewski the Islanders are presented now with a dilemma before training camp even opens; who should they suit up come opening night? As of today the Islander website has Mark Eaton, Bruno Gervais, Jack Hillen, Milan Jurcina, Andrew MacDonald, Radek Martinek, and Mark Striet listed as the team's defensemen. Add Wisniewski to the mix and you have two D-men who will be sitting in the press box come opening night verse Dallas.
So who makes the line up and who doesn't? Let's break it down. First theirs Mark Eaton, the former Penguins defensemen, who Garth Snow signed to add more veteran presence on the blue line. The 33 year old may not be a scoring machine, but he is a player who adds size and can play a lot of minutes over a game (averaged 18:01 last season), as well as block shots. Eaton was second on the penguins in block shots, blocking 135. Eaton is very much a lock to make the team out of training camp.
Then comes Mark Streit and Radek Martinek, two players who are also locks to make the team out of camp. While Streit has been one of, if not, the best defensemen on the team, Martinek is more the concern down the road. Martinek has suffered injury set backed seasons the past several years, including last year where he only played in 16 games. In those 16 he scored 2 goals and an assist for 3 points and can be dangerous player when healthy.
Then Comes the Young defensemen Jack Hillen and Andrew MacDonald. Hillen put up 3 goals, 18 assist and 21 points in 69 games last year while averaging 16:40 minutes on the ice per game. Also playing a role on the special teams unit, averaging 1:46 on the power play. MacDonald, who received a four year contract extension, recorded a goal, 6 assists and 7 points in 46 games while averaging 17:06 last season. Both were invited to play for team USA in the world Championships and both were bright spots on a very lackluster Islanders blue line last season. Expect both to be playing on the island come season start.
Now comes Milian Jurcina, the former Blue Jacket/Capital. He may have been Olympian in Vancouver; I don't see Jurcina suiting up for the Islanders early on. Jurcina put up the same numbers as MacDonald (1, 6, 7) he has not been as much of a stand out player as A-Mac or Hillen has been. As well, Jurcina has also been plagued by injuries this past season. While Jurcina does add size, I do not see him ousting Hillen or A-Mac out of a playing roster spot. However should Martinek or any other defensemen go down with an injury expect Jurcina to be the first one called in.
Finally there is the curious case of Bruno Gervais, the 25 year old defensemen whose play is spottier than a firehouse Dalmatian. While Gervais has played a prominent role on the Islanders defense for the past three years, his play has yet to truly improve finishing the past two seasons a -15. He does average time both on the power play and penalty kill as well as 16:30 a game and has his moments when he seems he could finally be turning into the player the organization hoped he would be. But he has yet to truly turn into an everyday NHLer. He will not be playing anytime soon for the Isles and will either be traded, enjoying the view from the coliseum press box or be back with the Sound Tigers in Bridgeport. Either way, the Gervais experiment most likely is nearing its end on Long Island.
So looking forward here is what the opening night defensive pairings might look like;
The Islanders continued to bolster their blue line today with the acquisition of James Wisniewski from the Anaheim Ducks. Wisniewski, 5'11, 197 lbs, spent time in Chicago before joining the Ducks in 2008. He had just signed a one year deal with Anaheim worth $3.2 million this afternoon prior to the trade.
Last season Wisniewski scored 3 goals, 27 assists and 30 points in 69 games as well as averaged over 24 minutes per game. "We see James as a key addition to our team and we feel our fans will connect with his style of play," Islanders General Manager, Garth Snow, said in a team released statement. "He is a solid puck-moving defenseman who can bring an added element of toughness to our blue-line."
However his toughness did land him in trouble last season after he delivered a knock out hit on Brent Seabrook that earned him an eight game suspension from the NHL.
But overall the trade has been well received, especially by Chris Botta. "Tonight, the Islanders are a much better hockey team because of Snow's acquisition of Wisniewski," Botta wrote on his blog tonight.]]>
Kyle Okposo, John Tavares, and Matt Moulson will most likely net 25 goals or more. Even though Okposo only lit the lamp 19 times in the 2009-2010 season, I'm sure he'll improve. Now Tavares scored 5 more then Okposo which gives him 24 goals. I'm pretty sure he can reach that again, and go higher. And for Moulson, who just got signed into a one-year deal today, I can see him scoring more than 30 if he has a good year. He keeps going to the net, and producing. So as long as he keeps doing his job, he'll be fine.
Moving onto Frans Nielson, Blake Comeau, and Josh Bailey, who all scored within 10-20 goals. I can see Nielson netting 15-20 goals if he works hard. He's still young. Now for Comeau, he could easily reach 20, which he was so close this season with 17. I predict a very good season for him. Bailey, with one less goal then Comeau, netting 16, could reach 20 as well if he works hard and keeps going to the net like Moulson.
P.A Parenteau, Trent Hunter, Rob Schremp Doug Weight(who the Isles said they're bringing back), will all easily score more then 15 goals if they stay healthy and keep getting in those dirty areas. Weight is a great leader on and off the ice, so is Hunter, and Schremp is awesome in the shootouts. Parenteau could have a good season, or end up like Tambellini, scoring in the AHL but not producing in the NHL.
If all of the Islanders do their jobs right, this team could be competing for a playoff spot near the end of the season, and not looking forward to the first overall pick again. I'd say the Isles sign one more top 6 forward, and we'll hopefully be a decent team for the season.
Now for some Rumors:
--I've heard, according to HockeyJunkYard and ToddNHL, that the Islanders could bring back Miro Satan. We'll see.
-- Per HockeyBuzz Eklund and ToddNHL, The Islanders are one of the teams in play for Stempniak...
Please follow me on Twitter for more. @IHB_NICK
30 goal scorer, Matt Moulson, agreed to a one year deal worth $2.45 million with the Islanders just moments prior to his arbitration hearing that was set for 9:00 am this morning. Moulson told Newsday beat writer, Katie Strang, that "he was feeling tense while waiting in the hallway as both sides plugged away and was relieved when an agreement was reached."
Islanders management must have been just as relieved to avoid any further embarrassment this offseason after the heat they have taken over the Billy Jaffe, Bryan Trottier, and Ryan Jankowski situations.
Reports from @HockeyVine suggested the Islanders offered Moulson a 3 year deal but they settled on a one year deal. The one year deal makes the most sense because it gives the Islanders another year to evaluate Moulson and if he performs up to par they can then sign him to a long term extension.]]>
***I am hearing that Snow has shown interest in Paul Karyia. Now this is just a RUMOR. It doesn't mean the Islanders are going to sign him tomorrow. But Karyia's probable team is the Penguins.*** Source: HockeyJunkYard
The bottom line is, the Islanders need scoring...We'll see what happens going into August as Snow may make a move or two.
Guess I was wrong. Chris Botta of Islanders Point Blank reported that "Although MSG Network hires and pays the broadcasters, the Islanders - like most teams - have the ultimate say." Immediately fans took to the blogosphere with pitch forks and anger intending to raise hell. Dominik at Lighthouse Hockey reported that fans have ranged from calling Wang to sell the team to being embarrassed to be Isles fans to calling them a "Mickey Mouse" organization. Rational, Ehh. I wonder how many other teams get this much negative attention when they let go of a broadcaster.
No one truly knows why Jaffe is gone and most likely wont ever know, but it's business. That's part of being in the broadcast business. Jobs come and go and Jaffe wont be out of a job for long, that's for sure. But that's the nature of the Business.
But the saddest part is the end all be all approach fans have taken from this whole thing. Not just this, but with every minor detail that goes on from Kevin Connelly at the draft to the Chuck a puck promotion at the coliseum to this. If this week has shown me anything, it's that to not sweat the little things and enjoy life, friends and anything we enjoy while we can. Because there are seven individuales who wont have that opportunity to enjoy what they love or see who they love. That sits as a reminder of just how trivial this all is. While fans are passionate, I understand, there is so much more to life than what broadcaster our favorite team has, a silly game of hockey, or anything else like that. We seem to take these things for granted not realizing just how small they are in thegrand scheme of things. Just how lucky we are to still be able to enjoy them, get annoyed by them or even angered by them. My message in all of this don't sweat the little things anymore fans. Enjoy the people and things (the Islanders) you love while you can because They or you could be gone any day.
I'd like to dedicate this post to the following people who reminded me to enjoy life and not overreact at things like this.
Nikki Kantor (17 yrs old, Greenlawn) You were one of a kind Nikki and I will always remember you.
Ann Pabo (47 yrs old, East Northport)
Connele Pabo (12 yrs old, East Northport)
Jamie Malone (22 yrs old,Floral Park)
Paige Malone (19 yrs old, Floral Park)
Michael Mulhall (22 yrs old, Floral Park)
Hello all and it’s time for another installment of the “Meet the IHBers” series. A few days later than normal but the Kovalchuk news was more important. So let’s meet the next member here at the Islanders Hockey Blog, myself:
My name is Eric Ritter, IHB NHL Analyst, I’m 22 years old and I have lived in Deltona, Florida but all of the first 15 months of my life. I was born in Baltimore, Maryland before being moved to Florida. When my parents were growing up, Baltimore had an AHL franchise and they frequently went to games. Even after moving to Florida, they remained hockey fans, and many nights of my first years on Earth were spent on my dad’s lap as he watched hockey. I guess interest in the game was burned into my mind that way. In the mid-90s when Sergei Fedorov was taking the NHL by storm, there was a commercial of him racing an Olympic sprinter on a sheet of ice, and obviously Fedorov on skates was doing laps around the sprinter running on ice in his track shoes. Being young that commercial entertained me more than it probably should have, so he became my favorite player and the Red Wings, whom he played for, my favorite team. I’ve continued to root for Detroit and imagine spending the rest of my life as a Red Wings fan. As far as my relationship with the Islanders goes, my ex-girlfriend’s family was from New York, and her dad a big Rangers fan. So while we dated I found enjoyment out of wearing my Islanders jersey to her house to get under his skin. Since breaking up I get extra satisfaction when the Islanders beat the Broadway Blueshirts, so I guess I’m more anti-Rangers than I am pro-Islanders, but for fans on Long Island, that’s probably enough to satisfy them. I started doing video blogs on Youtube at the start of the 2008-2009 NHL season. During last summer, IHB operator Christian messaged me on Youtube and asked if I’d be interested in contributing to the blog, which I gladly accepted. I have continued doing hockey videos and will do so again this year, will keep writing for the IHB and this season will be starting a weekly radio show on blogtalkradio.com covering the NHL. Outside of hockey I work at UPS as a package handler, meaning I’m up well before 5am each day working to ensure the popular brown trucks make their deliveries on time that day. September will be two years there and I love my job. I’m looking for a second job and until I find one I’ll be volunteering at a local high school with my former journalism teacher to help fill my time. I love music, Kings of Leon is my favorite band and I enjoy writing lyrics and playing drums. That’s pretty much the outline of who I am. I thank all the readers that took the time to read my stories last year and look forward to contributing even more to the IHB this coming season. Should there be anything further you’d like to know, or ever have story ideas or suggestions, feel free to e-mail me by clicking my name at the top left of this page.
-Eric RitterThanks again everyone and check back next week when we hopefully cover another one of the remaining two IHBers.]]>
UPDATE: Reports now have the NHL rejecting the 17 year, $102 million deal Kovalchuk signed with New Jersey. In the final five years of the contract Kovalchuk would only earn $550,000 per year; a low salary that drags down the average yearly rate across the rest of the contract. The NHL has warned GMs in the past about these types of contracts and have finally said no to one. The NHLPA has five days to challenge the NHL's ruling against the contract. I'll keep things up to date as more news breaks.
18 days after free agency started, the most sought after free agent of the summer has finally made his decision.
Earlier today it was announced that Ilya Kovalchuk has resigned with the New Jersey Devils. Terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed.
Acquired on February 4th in a pre-trade deadline deal with the Atlanta Thrashers, Kovalchuk played the final quarter of the season with New Jersey, before getting eliminated four games to one by Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs.
While the most valuable player available on the free agent market this summer, only a select amount of teams could pursue Kovalchuk considering the amount of money he was after. Two and a half weeks after the start of free agency, and after listening to deals from New Jersey, Los Angeles, the Islanders and SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL, the 27 year old Russian decided to stay put.
The re-signing of Kovalchuk continues the transition of New Jersey being a defensive minded team into more of an offensive team with players like Parise and Zajac on the roster.
Kovalchuk remains on the team but he’ll be surrounded by several new faces as the Devils change up their roster after yet another disappointing first round playoff exit. A couple of key departures thus far this offseason are Rob Niedermeyer, Paul Martin and former Head Coach Jacques Lemaire. Key additions include new Head Coach John MacLean, former Devil Jason Arnott, defensemen Anton Volchenkov and Henrik Tallinder and back up goalie Johan Hedberg.
A press conference was held at 1pm today to announce the signing and reports have Kovalchuk being available to the media tomorrow.
UPDATE: Reports now state Kovalchuk has signed a 17 year deal for over $100 million. That would put him at 44 years old when this contract expires. Expect the NHL to look into this contract just as they have with other long term deals.
UPDATE: The player market, quite slow recently, is now rolling again. Just hours after the Kovalchuk trade was announced, the Flyers traded Simon Gagne to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Matt Walker and a 2011 fourth round pick. With this trade, Philly gets the right handed D-man they want and need and Tampa adds Gagne's offensive abilities to a front line already loaded with Stamkos, Lecavalier, St. Louis, Malone and Downie. Floundering recently, look for Tampa to be a legitimate threat to make the playoffs this year.]]>
Isles appear to show interest in...
- C John Madden,Kings; 10G and 13A for 23PTS (Good PK)
-LW Patrick Sharp,Hawks; 25G and 41A for 66PTS
-C Marc Savard,Bruins; 10G and 23A for 33PTS (Note: Savard only played 40 games this season)
I also heard rumor that the Islanders have interest in Asham. So keep an eye out for an Islander move. It seems likely that the Islanders will try to negotiate with the players named.--- Sources: HockeyBuzz Eklund,HockeyJunkYard
Also, I don't believe the Isles will sign a goalie. What for? Even if DP is hurt, they always have Lawson.