With the playoff picture narrowing by the day, Matt Martin gave me a call yesterday afternoon to discuss some playoff hockey as well as to take a look at the Islanders as they prepare for next season.
Martin is currently waiting for a new contract with the New York Islanders and has been training a lot this off-season in preparation for 2013. He set an NHL record in 2012 with 374 hits in 80 games played to go along with tying his career high of 14 points. Along with his explosions along the wall, Martin has become one of the biggest fan-favorites for the New York Islander. In fact, his hard work, fisticuffs and willingness to stick up for his teammates earned him the Bobby Nystrom Award for 2012.
But apparently all that hard work takes it's toll. The guy didn't even do to much for his 23rd birthday that just passed on May 8th.
The NHL's current collective bargaining agreement might look a bit different heading into the 2013 season. After the lockout in 2005, the NHL implemented a salary cap after forfeiting an entire season - it appears that both the players and the owners have learned from their past foolish mistakes and won't let that happen again, but there are matter that might not be settled so easily.
One of them is an amnesty clause. Basically, an amnesty clause would allow any team to eliminate a bad player contract under certain conditions. The NBA elected to put this clause into their CBA back in 2005, but it came with a twist. If an organization chose to use the amnesty clause, the player still received a paycheck that counted against the cap, but they did not have to pay a luxury tax on these waived salaries.
Whether or not the NHL and its players will be able to come to terms on something similar, or entirely different, will remain to be seen until the talks are officially underway.
After Corey Trivino's court date was postponed from late April to late May, many have been wondering what lies in store for the ex-Boston Terriers standout. Trivino's reputation at Boston University was well known before the forward decided to drunkenly harass a female Resident Advisor. While the center was highly valued by the Boston Terriers, head coach Jack Parker said that Trivino's tendency for drunk and disorderly conduct had finally gone too far. (wallyg/Flickr)
Parker gave Trivino the ax from the team and the forward was kicked out from Boston University not too long after. Many might be wondering what legal ramifications might be waiting for Trivino come May 30th, but the New York Islanders still have their stock invested in a player that could be a force at the NHL level. Granted, Trivino would have to sort out his own personal demons before returning to hockey, but the center is too gifted to not pursue a career in hockey.
While Trivino's fate has not yet been decided by the courts, the question still beckons. What should the New York Islanders do if Corey Trivino is dedicated to rehabilitating himself and reinvigorating his hopes of playing professional hockey?
The Montreal Canadiens step down from the podium and the camera turns to the General Manager of the New York Islanders, Garth Snow. Accompanied by his top scouts and assistants, and most likely Kevin Connolly who formerly was on Entourage, Snow remains seated. With Pierre McGuire ready to analyze Snow's draft choice at fourth overall, the Isles GM leaves the podium vacant for the Commissioner of the NHL, Gary Bettman.
"We have a trade to announce, " are the words that would echo throughout a startled building.
"The Islanders have chosen to trade the fourth overall pick in this year's draft..."
With the New York Islanders heading into another off-season without a playoff berth, the team will look to solidify its young core through the NHL draft, trades, and signings of free agents. (Robert Kowal/Flickr)
While the Isles might not be fortunate enough to land Nail Yakupov in this year's NHL Entry Draft, the team should focus on trying to scout the best defenseman out of this year's draft. Names like Trouba, Dumba, Rielly, Murray, and Reinhart are headlining the list of premier d-men that will be available to the Islanders come draft day in June.
Drafting a young defenseman will probably be the right choice for the Isles, but one can't simply ignore that New York has holes to fill for the 2012-2013 NHL Season. Mike Mottau, Milan Jurcina, Mark Eaton, and Steve Staios tried to do their jobs as veteran rearguards, but it was painfully obvious on certain nights that the Islanders' d-men were simply outmatched. If the Islanders want to stay in contention in a highly competitive Atlantic Division, then General Manager Garth Snow must exhaust all of his resources toward signing or acquiring a top 4 defenseman.
After allowing seven goals in an onslaught of a hockey game, the final buzzer at the Nationwide Arena would not only sound the ending of a massacre, but also signify the end of what was a disappointing season for the New York Islanders.
It was a disappointing year for many reasons. With the rebuild entering its fourth season, many expected this team's fortunes to change. For plenty, that meant making the playoffs instead of falling into the draft lottery. For yours truly, that meant climbing out of the cellar but not high enough to reach 8th place. I am sad to say that we were both wrong. The Islanders finished the year out of the playoffs and 27th overall in the league, giving them the fourth overall pick going into Tuesday night's draft lottery for the second year in a row.
On paper you can call the 2012 season just the same as any other. At 14th place in the Eastern Conference, the Isles finished the season with a 34-37-11 record with 79 points. That's only a six point improvement over last season and the SAME exact record as the year before that in 2010. It would almost appear that the rebuild has established a trend of not going up or down, but rather staying put.
The rebuild is only four years old, and although I use the word, "only," I understand how long that it has actually been for the loyal fans who continue to come out and support this team, waiting for them to finally return to glory. But the fact of the matter is that these things take time - a lot of time.
The St. Louis Blues are a prime example. They have only made the playoffs once since the lock out and are now finally poised to make a serious run for the Stanley Cup for the first time since Chris Pronger was on the team. President John Davidson has been building them through the draft while signing veteran free agents, much like what the Islanders have done. And the free agents they have signed haven't exactly been guys in their prime, such as Paul Kariya, Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner. They also had trouble scoring goals for a long time as well. But finally, things are starting to fall into place and they are on the brink of becoming a power house hockey team in the Western Conference.
The Isles, much like the Blues, are still building toward that stature. But one thing is for certain; the Islanders farm team next season is going to play a major role in the rebuild.
It's hard to predict the roster for 2013 when 2012 hasn't even finished yet, let alone the fact that Garth Snow hasn't decided which of his impending UFA's will be brought back. Free agency is still a far away fantasy as well. But for some hockey players currently wearing Islanders uniforms, the immediate future has been fresh in their minds for quite some time.
Players like Casey Cizikas, David Ullstrom, Dylan Reese and Nino Niederreiter will be looking to make some lasting impressions on the coaching staff over the next seven games that will close out the Islanders' season. The first three will more than likely be sent back to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers once the NHL regular season ends in order to assist the farm team with their playoff run.
Yesterday the New York Islanders announced that goaltender Evgeni Nabokov will remain an Islander through the 2013 season after signing a one-year contract extension. According to TSN, the contract is worth $2.75 million, a more than reasonable price for his services.
I've had the pleasure of talking with Travis Hamonic several times throughout my years with the NYI Blog Box. I've actually been in touch with him since his days in the WHL, then with the Moose Jaw Warriors. If you read my interview with him when he was only 19 years old and still hoping to make it to the NHL, you would see that this kid had plenty to say before he was earning a professional paycheck.
Not much has changed with the one that everyone calls, "Hammer." He's just a kid living the dream that loves to play hockey. To be honest, judging from my time spent in the locker room, he is easily, if not the biggest heart and soul player they have on that team. He always wears his heart on his sleeve and is quick to defend his team on the ice, and with his words. I remember asking him once what "the problem" was with his team's play, and he was quick to turn that around and say there aren't any problems, just areas that went wrong that could be fixed. He bleeds orange and blue amongst the best of them.
It shows merit to the Islanders scouts and management, who have not only done a good job of drafting young talent, but finding character guys with leadership qualities as well. That's why Hamonic has become one of Snow's best draft moves in 2008.