After signing an Entry Level Contract with the New York Islanders back in May, fans must be wondering when Brock Nelson might make his debut in the NHL. Nelson only improved in his two years of playing WCHA hockey as he tallied 68 points in 84 games played. In his first season at the University of North Dakota, Nelson might not have put up numbers that would have made him a standout with the Fighting Sioux, but the freshman managed to hold his own after transitioning from playing high school hockey in Minnesota. (Robert Kowal/Flickr)
Before Nelson arrived at the University of North Dakota, the pivot was highly productive in 31 games played for Warroad High School as he averaged more than three points a game and had a +55 rating. Some may have expected the center to be an offensive dynamo in his first year of WCHA hockey, but Nelson was also placed on a team that had significant talent at the forward position. While the forward only recorded 21 points (8 Goals, 13 Assists) in 42 games played, half of his goals came on the man-advantage, an indicator that better production would come as the center grew more accustomed to WCHA play.
With the season only a few months away and a feel that the Islanders are done shopping in free agency it seems like a nice time to take a look at possible opening night line combinations.
Moulson – Tavares – Boyes
This line doesn’t show too much difference from last season besides the addition of Brad Boyes. It is believed that Boyes was bought in to fill the spot left by PA. Playing with Tavares and Moulson should hopefully bring out Boyes old scoring touch from a few seasons ago.
Marty Reasoner was signed to a two-year deal during last summer's off-season to replace the recently departed, Zenon Konopka. "Z" instilled toughness and leadership in the locker room and gave Islanders fans, as well as his teammates, a reason to stick up for themselves when getting the brunt of the NHL's toughest teams and officials. But due to some rumored internal issues, Konopka was let go to free agency and Reasoner was signed to be his replacement; a less threatening, but more productive fourth line center that could kill penalties.
To everyone's dismay, it did not take long for Reasoner to quickly become the scapegoat for most Islanders fans. He was constantly making defensive mistakes, out of position and didn't score his first goal of the season until March 29th against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He finished the year with five assists to go with that solo goal for at total of six points in 61 games played. He was also a whopping -25, the worst +/- score of his entire career.
Not exactly the type of defensive play you want from your penalty killing, depth forward, especially when he was a +2 with 32 points and 14 goals the season before.
It is no lie that the Islanders are in need of some secondary scoring. Of the many forwards left on the free agent market two names, Alexander Semin and Shane Doan, should be sticking out to Islanders GM Garth Snow and Owner Charles Wang. (Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated)
The New York Islanders were very active yesterday, acquiring three new players on the open market on the first day of NHL Free Agency. Forward Brad Boyes was signed to a one-year, $1 million deal and was soon followed by defenseman Matt Carkner's three-year contract worth $4.5 million.
Not long after these signings, former Islanders forward P.A. Parenteau inked a four-year, $16 million deal with the Colorado Avalance. Although many on twitter felt that the Isles could have easily afforded Parenteau's new contract, it still made plenty of sense to let him go. Four years for a 29 year old hockey player that only had one season worthy of top line honors and only two full seasons of NHL experience is a lot to commit too. In addition, Matt Moulson presently makes less per year than Parenteau's new contract. Moulson has been a consistent thirty goal scorer since joining the Islanders and has maintained chemistry with his long-time buddy, John Tavares. GM Garth Snow must have seen the risks in possibly off-setting the locker room if he showed that he felt Parenteau was more deserving a higher salary to go along with the other risk factors involved in that contract. With that being said, I wish Parenteau the best of luck and will look forward to seeing him return to Coliseum ice.
But in every difficulty lies an opportunity, and that is what Brad Boyes has been given.
Today PA Parenteau officially become an unrestricted free agent for all 30 teams, including the Islanders, to try and sign. I think you can assume that Parenteau will go wherever he gets the biggest contract and if the past, under Garth Snow, has shown us anything, Parenteau has played his final game in orange and blue.
Lets be honest the Islanders aren’t going to be able to get a top-6 forward in this free agent class and even though many Islanders fans would like to see Snow make a run at Bobby Ryan, it’s probably not going to happen. Snow is on the right track with drafting, grooming players and signing role players in free agency. So Parenteau’s successor on the first line will come from within the organization, the question is who will it be?
As speculation over P.A Parenteau's desire to hit the free agent market continues to grow, so does the restlessness of the Isles' fan base.
With David Jones of the Colorado Avalanche receiving a $4 million a year deal for four years, the money and market for Parenteau may have grown that much stronger. While David Jones and P.A Parenteau were statistically far apart during the 2011-2012 NHL season, the former amassed 30 less points than Parenteau and was given a contract that might just make it that much harder for the Islanders and Parenteau to come to terms.
Some might argue that the contract that David Jones received from the Avalanche was a bit overpriced, but getting Parenteau at the same rate would not be such a bad signing for the Islanders. Parenteau spent the majority of his time between the first and second line during the 2011-2012 season and managed to register 67 points (18 Goals, 49 Assists) in 80 games played. Even though some may think that it is not worth overpaying for Parenteau, the forward plays an essential role for the New York Islanders and would be hard to replace if he chooses to sign with a different team during free agency.
It almost seems like it's been the same story heading into the off-season year after year now; the Isles lack a top-six forward and top-four defenseman that could help make them a competitive team that could be fighting for a playoff spot.
They've tried free agency and have been shot down by guys like Paul Martin. They tried the trade market with James Wisniewski, who ended up being a major disappointment while wearing orange and blue. They even tried that route once more, gaining the negotating rights to Christian Ehrhoff. He didn't want to sign, and I think after seeing how he played under his very luxurious contract, most Isles fans probably don't care.
Although both trades were under different circumstances, they shared one glaring similarity. Not one of them involved any actual players leaving the Island. Ehrhoff's rights were acquired for a fourth round draft pick, and Wisniewski came on board in exchange for a 2011 second round pick and conditional 2012 fifth round pick. Despite the early signs of GM Garth Snow developing a pattern, there is reason to believe that could change heading into this summer's off-season.
The New York Islanders are gaining attention in the media once again as Gary Bettman recently announced that Brooklyn would not be a viable option for the Islanders to move to in 2015. With all of the question marks surrounding the Isles' arena situation, the Islanders will still have to finish out their lease agreement under some uncertainty. (BridgetDS/Flickr)
However, some late season secondary has left fans wondering if the Islanders can sustain the type of chemistry that helped the team finish on a 6-5 note in their last 11 games. Josh Bailey closed off the season on a tear and has constantly left fans wondering if he has finally put everything together, but it seems as though the pivot was very comfortable playing on the wing alongside talented playmaker Frans Nielsen. Nielsen didn't seem to mind the adjustment as the pair combined for 24 points in the last 11 contests for the Islanders. Nielsen registered 11 points (3 Goals, 8 Assists) while Bailey outdid him with 13 points (3 Goals, 10 Assists). However, the most important part about their streaks was the fact that the two players were gelling together and looked very comfortable playing on the same line.
If the Islanders won all of their remaining games and the Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres lost their remaininga games, then the Isles would have done the unthinkable and made the playoffs for the first time in years. However, miraculous combinations of wins and losses are hard to come by these days, especially when you are playing against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
The Bruins scored six goals this afternoon for the third time this season against the Islanders, taking the season series with a 3-1-0 record. The loss finally elimanted the Islanders from playoff contention, concluding the thoughts of even the most hopeless fan that thought somehow they would squeak in. The focus now will shift to finishing the season with a winning record for the first time since Ted Nolan was the head coach and ending up somewhere between 9th and 11th place.