There are a lot of questions surrounding the New York Islanders as they head into next season. The biggest one will be whether or not they are capable of making the playoffs for the second year in a row.
The NHL Facebook page recently asked this same question, and many fans were either skeptical, positive or found the idea downright absurd (and these weren't just Rangers fans).
Despite an intense, hard fought playoff series with a very inexperienced roster against the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team that has been one of the most dominant forces of the league for the past few years, many critics are still not convinced that the New York Islanders are a guaranteed playoff team.
After a miserable 2013 campaign, a complete overhaul was expected for the Flyers this off season.
Instead, two key contracts were cut and replaced by three new players, leaving much of the same team to prepare for the 2013-14 season.
General manager Paul Holmgren said a few times during last season that he didn't plan on blowing up the team this off season. He kept his promise.
Now with the acquisitions of defenseman Mark Streit, goalie Ray Emery and center Vincent Lecavalier, the Flyers managed to cheapen their roster and replace Ilya Bryzgalov and Danny Briere effectively, allowing them to keep a healthier version of the same team from last season.
Holmgren is happy with the roster he has now going forward. And with that, chairman Ed Snider is "excited" for the 2013-14 season to start.
July 5 did not carry the same pomp and circumstance that the days leading up to the day did for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Early in the day on Friday, goaltender Ray Emery agreed to a one-year deal, and depth goaltender Yann Danis also agreed to a one-year pact.
Those moves along with the acquisitions of defenseman Mark Streit and former Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier make the team look a lot better off than last season's unfortunate debacle.
Expected comments released by General Manager Paul Holmgren revealed that the team is capped out. No flexibility exists to make additional moves, including one that could have kept popular winger Simon Gagne in the fold.
At most, the 2013 NHL season has two games remaining. The Chicago Blackhawks have the opportunity to send the Boston Bruins home without any new hardware, as a win tonight would make them this year's Stanley Cup Champions.
With that being said, the New York Islanders organization has been preparing for the NHL Entry draft, as well as free agency.
As we jump ahead to July 5th, there are a handful of players that the Islanders might consider for the 2013-2014 roster that may make them a better contending team for next season's playoff run.
On Tuesday, the rumor mill concerning the Philadelphia Flyers blew up.
Not only was it confirmed by ESPN's Pierre LeBrun that forward Danny Briere would be bought out, but conflicting reports about goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov's security with the team surfaced, as well as trade rumors involving Anaheim's Bobby Ryan and Los Angeles' Jonathan Bernier also came to the forefront.
Talk about a crazy day.
All of this coming on the heels of a reported deal struck with the New York Islanders to acquire their former captain Mark Streit. Streit signed a bloated four year pact worth a grand total of $22 million. Following that deal, it signaled change. There is writing on the wall...but for whom?
If, for example, both Briere and Bryzgalov are bought out, that unlocks about $12 million in cap space. The Flyers are currently above the new cap ceiling of $64 million by $7 million. These moves would not afford a ton of room, but it would at least be something.
The Flyers have signed defenseman Mark Streit to a four-year contract according to TSN's Darren Dreger.
The deal is said to be worth $21 million, an AAV of $5.25 million. The deal also includes a partial no-trade clause, meaning Streit can submit a list of teams he would want to be traded to.
The Flyers acquired the rights to Streit last week for a 2014 4th round pick and Phantoms forward Shane Harper. Streit, 35, was going to be an unrestricted free agent come July 5 if the Flyers couldn't reach an agreement with him.
The Flyers have made their first move of the off season, acquiring a defenseman from a division rival.
They have traded forward Shane Harper along with a fourth round pick in the 2014 amateur draft to New York Islanders for 35-year-old defenseman Mark Streit. Streit was the captain of the Islanders team the last two years.
Streit is going to be a free agent come July 5 but they now own his rights until then and have the opportunity to re-sign him. General manager Paul Holmgren said that Streit was one of the blueliners on his radar at the July 5 free agency period.
Most NHL fans have been focusing their attention on the NHL playoffs. Both the Kings/Blackhawks and the Penguins/Bruins are in the midst of their Conference Finals match-ups, but rumors and news have continued to run wild surrounding the New York Islanders.
The biggest, and most latest story coming about the Islanders is that number one defenseman and team captain Mark Streit will not be returning next year (Photo Credit: Robert Kowal/Flickr).