|No idea what he's plotting.|
The dealing of Nino Niederreiter to Minnesota for Cal Clutterbuck surprised many, as did the compliance buyout of Rick DiPietro's contract. The trade offers for former Kings' goalie Jonathan Bernier and former Canucks goalie Cory Schneider, and inquiry on Vincent Lecavalier (deemed to want too many years and too much money) also may have been a shock to the "Wang must go" gang, but those same offers were also signs that Long Island's hockey team is looking to take the next step to improve itself with more than a few minor additions.
Of course, we have no idea what is actually up Garth Snow's sleeve. For now, all we have is speculation, but that is one of the best parts of being a fan, right? Now that the cap casualties are settling down and the true free agent market is clear, I think it's appropriate to give a look at free agency as a whole. Let's speculate, Isles' fans. Who could the Islanders be interested in when July 5th comes around?
Of course, injuries have been an issue for Briere. The Isles should proceed with caution, but if the price and terms of a deal make sense, Garth should grab him.
My Offer: 2 years, $9M
Weiss has "Garth Snow" written all over him. He's coming off a terrible season where he scored just 1 goal in 17 games for the Panthers, and then missed the remainder of the season due to a wrist injury. Before the 2013 season, though, Weiss scored at least 40 points in each of his last six seasons, surpassing 60 points twice.
Again, the Islanders need a second-line centre. At 30-years-old, Weiss should still have plenty to offer, which includes scoring and penalty-killing, despite his poor showing last season.
My Offer: 2 years, $8M
The ex-Coyote will be searching for his fourth team this summer.Mueller is a gamble, but I could see why Snow would take the chance on the 25-year-old winger. Mueller was selected 8th-overall in the 2006 NHL Draft, but has been a journeyman at this point in his career.
Still, Mueller has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his career, but injuries have derailed a good part of it. He never matched his 52-point rookie campaign during the 2007-08 season, but if you put him next to John Tavares, you just never know.
My Offer: 2 years, $6.5M
Players to watch:
He says he loves Detroit, but the clock is ticking and Brunner still remains unsigned. I would love to see the talented Swiss-born player, who made a name for himself during the lockout, lined up alongside John Tavares.
I would love to have him, but heard on the NHL Network that he is looking for a 6-7 year deal. With past injury problems, it's going to be hard to convince Snow to bite on that one.
The New Jersey Devil fits the Islanders' mold. He's a goal-scorer who will throw the body and play with 110% effort from start to finish. Rumor is that he wants a contract that will pay him $42M over 6 years, though, and that is definitely too steep of a price for the 29-year-old who has never scored more than 46 points in a season.
Yes, he's ancient, but Jagr scored 35 points in 45 games last season. He's one of the all-time greats, and still has something left in the tank. Obviously, he's not a long-term solution, but if the Islanders do not find a fix to their top-line, Jagr could be a great fit next to Tavares. Plus, could you imagine what he could pass down to the Islanders' core?
The Islanders could really use another right-handed shot on the blue-line, especially for power-play purposes. Zidlicky is a power-play quarterback in his own right, and his addition would give the Islanders' power-play fewer question marks going into next season.
In my opinion, there was nothing more frustrating than watching a lefty (Visnovsky) send a pass across the blue-line to another lefty (Streit) all season long. Every single time, it slowed down puck movement. Again Zidlicky would be the right-handed shot the Islanders need.
My Offer: 2 years, $9M
There was a time where it seemed as if there was a huge market for Keith Ballard. However, Ballard was bought out by the Canucks earlier in the week, closing the book on a terrible three-year tenure in Vancouver.
Ballard was successful in his past years with Phoenix and Florida, though, playing around 22 minutes a night for those teams. The Islanders could offer Ballard an opportunity to redeem himself in a top-4 role on a team that could use the defensive help.
My offer: 1 year, $3.5M
Players to Watch:
The Long Island native is a good fit on Long Island. He's a rock in his own zone, and has two Stanley Cup rings to show for his efforts. Most likely looking for a long-term deal to finish his career, the Islanders should be cautious.
Another right-handed shot with offensive ability, Foster sizes up at 6'5, 225 pounds, which would make him the largest player on the Island.
If the Islanders want to take their chances on a stop-gap shutdown defenseman, Murray could be their guy. He has been on a decline over the past several seasons, but Long Island seems to be the place where players get their chance to prove otherwise.
Also recently bought out by the Flyers, Bryzgalov signed a humongous-big contract with Philadelphia (where goalies go to die) that he never had a chance to live up to. Two mediocre seasons behind one very mediocre defense was enough to get him canned in Philly, and put back on the market.
Bryz will be looking to prove himself, which is something he has been doing his entire career before he made the big money with the Flyers. The former 42-game winner still has plenty left in the tank, and could be a good fit on Long Island, even if he has to put up with its "beaches."
My Offer: 3 years, $12M
Emery shouldn't be handed a job, but he's no stranger for fighting for playing time. If the Islanders could get another goalie to push him, this could be a great fit.
My Offer: 2 years, $7.5M
The Bruins backup goaltender is loaded with raw talent. At 27-years-old, Khudobin has not yet had the opportunity to start at the NHL-level, but his overall numbers indicate that he could be ready to give it a shot. In 21 career games, Khudobin has compiled a record of 14-5-1, a .933 save percentage, and a 2.03 GAA.
A small sample size is obviously not enough to hand a job to Khudobin, who is entering the prime of his career, but it is certainly enough to allow him to compete for it. Put him with an experienced goalie and give him a chance to pry the starting job from him.
My Offer: 3 years, $9M
Players to Watch:
The Islanders' starting goalie of the past two seasons could return, although it is looking more and more unlikely.
He's coming off a poor year in goal, but Theodore has a track record that should label him as a starter, especially for a team that does not have an NHL goaltender under contract.
The career backup goalie has created a name for himself over the past four seasons in Phoenix. No, he's not going to be the Islanders starting goalie, but he could definitely fill in as the Islanders' permanent backup if Kevin Poulin is let go.
For the first time in years, the Islanders go into the summer with a clear and bright future. A new arena in Brooklyn combined with cap space and a playoff berth should be enough to attract a few names that wouldn't have come to Long Island in years past.
For Islanders fans, July 5th, 2013 is truly something to look forward to. Who do you want to see on Long Island?
I'm Chris Triants, and this is my blog.
Let's go Islanders!