New York Islanders: Needs as the Free Agent Market Opens

Eddie O'Malley@ed_omalleyContributor IJune 30, 2009

MONTREAL, QC - JUNE 26:  General manager Garth Snow of the New York Islanders talks to the media during the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft at the Bell Centre on June 26, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

When the free agent market opens tomorrow, the Isles will be somewhat active, because they have some holes to fill. 

At the top of the list is signing a backup goaltender, who is capable of being a starter in case starting goalie Rick DiPietro suffers another injury.

Joey MacDonald, and Yann Danis filled in admirably last season, and both played well at times, but the Isles need a more stable backup. Even if he stays healthy, DP would probably only play in about 60 games next season. That leaves plenty of playing time for the back-up goalie.

My prediction: The Isles will sign goaltender Ty Conklin to a two-year, $3 million deal. 

Conklin has played well the last two years for Detroit and Pittsburgh. He has proved he can be a more than capable backup, as he has appeared in 40 and 33 games the last two seasons. 

He should get around 20 starts for the Isles, and can play more if DP again suffers an injury. 


The Isles should also look to sign an enforcer to answer the bell if and when other teams try and push the Isles' younger players around.

The Isles do have hard-hitting fourth liner Tim Jackman, who is not afraid to drop the gloves, but I feel the Islanders need a heavyweight who can play about 10 minutes a game, and make other teams think twice about taking runs at guys like Okposo, Tavares, and Bailey.

My prediction: Isles will sign Colton Orr to a one-year, $750K deal.

The Isles have seen plenty of Orr over the last few seasons in their battles with their crosstown rivals, the Rangers.

Orr is considered to be one of the top heavyweights in the league. He is also a responsible forward defensively, as former Rangers' coach Tom Renney used to play Orr in one goal games late in the third period.

Orr isn't known for doing stupid things, like Donald Brashear, so the Isles wouldn't have to worry about him taking a bad penalty or suspension that could hurt the team.


The Isles could also use one more top six forward to play on one of their top two lines. 

My prediction: Isles will sign Petr Sykora to an one-year, $3.5 million deal.

Sykora has been a consistent player over his career, and could fit in nicely on a line with John Tavares. He could also provide some experience for the young center.

Also, by only signing him to a one year deal, the Isles could move him at the trade deadline for a draft pick or prospect if they are out of the playoff race.

The Isles could also use one more defenseman, but with their top six already set between Mark Streit, Bruno Gervais, Brendan Witt, Radek Martinek, Andy Sutton, and Freddy Meyer, someone would have to be traded first.

The Isles also have RFA Jack Hillen, who is expected to be re-signed, and would be their seventh defenseman, which leaves even less room for another defenseman to be signed.

Also, while I don't expect the Isles to be major players for any of the top free agents, I would not completely rule out the Sedin twins.

The only reason I won't rule them out is because if they really want to continue playing together, the Isles are one of a few teams who actually have the cap space to sign both Sedins.

I'll be tracking the FA signings tomorrow and will have something up if the Isles make any moves.


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