NHL Free Agency: New York Islanders Avoiding the Frenzy
While the rest of the free world stands vigil awaiting the decision made by LeBron James as to where to next collect his basketball millions, NHL fans themselves are geared up for the silly season.
The free agency period began July 1, and there was a landslide of activity .
But not on Long Island.
Islanders fans have come to learn that when the clock strikes midnight on the first day of free agency, that it doesn't pay to stay up late, or even scour the headlines the next morning. Or the following day, for that matter. Because when it comes to free agents—at least the marquee ones—the Islanders aren't interested.
And you wonder if the feeling is mutual.
A year ago, I suggested in my wish list post that the Isles go out and get Mike Cammalleri, Maxim Afinogenov, and Mike Komisarek. Cammelleri lit it up for the Canadiens, Afinogenov scored 24 goals for Atlanta (and could be bound for Russia this season), and hometown boy Komisarek , well, he had a forgettable year in Toronto. Hey, two out of three ain't bad (maybe now the Isles can get him cheap).
The Islanders could sure use a veteran defenseman, and in day one of the free agent frenzy, we saw Paul Martin sign with Pittsburgh and Lou Lamoriello countered by inking Anton Volchenkov and Henrik Tallinder for a combined $39 million.
Think the Isles are spending that kind of dough? News flash: Ilya Kovalchuk isn't coming to Hempstead.
No, Garth Snow has resigned himself to picking through the bargain bin, although he has come up big in the past. Mark Streit wasn't an unknown commodity in Montreal, but he has stepped up his game on Long Island, so that was a huge win for Snow.
The only activity on the Islanders' ledger has been in the "lost" column, as Martin Biron will now back up for the Rangers and Jeff Tambellini (whose bags have likely been packed for months), is now in Vancouver.
The Islanders won't snatch anyone up. Instead, they'll let the crumbs fall to them and pick out the biggest ones (or at least not the smallest).
So who will end up here? Maybe they'll re-sign Andy Sutton to provide some size again in the back; at least he liked it here and we liked him. There's been buzz about signing UFA Eric Nystrom, a Syosset boy whose dad played here some years ago. Not an impact player, but he could provide some jam.
After that, it's anyone's guess. Like last year, I'd love to see the Islanders spend some cash and bring in someone who can score. Matt Moulson was a terrific find, but let's face it, Snow got lucky. No one saw 30 goals coming from him. So, if the Isles can bring in someone else to help out Moulson, Tavares, Okposo, Bailey, and Weight, then I'm all for it.
Alexander Frolov , anyone? Yeah, right.
Beyond the names, can we at least see the Islanders—who are now just raking in the cash with Islanders Entertainment—take a couple of steps above the salary floor?
We know the Lighthouse isn't happening. But at some point, while building for the future—and Snow, so far, has not wavered from that plan—you have to give the present team and its fans something to come to the building for other than a glimpse of what could be in a couple of seasons.
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