The New York Islanders signed three players on July 1st, including defenseman Matt Carkner. His addition to the Isles will bring a new element of physicality and toughness on the blue line.
A big and strong crease clearing defenseman has been lacking possibly since Andy Sutton was traded a few years ago to the Ottawa Senators. Carkner's grit and willingness to stick up for his teammates will certainly make the Islanders a tougher team to play against.
Carkner and I had a chance to talk on the phone yesterday to discuss what he's been up to this off-season, what happened on July 1st and what he plans on bringing to the table one he puts on the orange and blue sweater.
The Captain 'C' is an honor that is sought for all throughout the NHL. We know the value in wearing it but lately for the Islanders it has been nothing but a stitched design to add to the jersey. After Denis Potvin stepped aside there has been a lot to be desired in terms of leadership for the team.
Looking at the Islanders' current captain, the honorable Mark Streit, it is easy to see why he is the captain. He is restoring form to an honor that has lost most of its meaning through the last few captains. Streit struggled last year but as a talented player, choosing to play on Long Island, is enough for the fans to let that slide. He has been a great example for the many young players on the team through his NHL experience and international play.
The Islanders announced today the defense prospect, Ty Wishart has re-signed with the club on a one-year, two-way contract for the 2012-2013 season.
UNIONDALE, NY (July 18, 2012) – The New York Islanders announced today that Ty Wishart has agreed to terms on a one-year, two-way deal for the 2012-13 season.
Wishart, 24, scored 19 points (five goals, 14 assists) with the Islanders’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, during his fourth professional season. The Belleville, ON, native also appeared in one National Hockey League game last year with the Islanders.
The Islanders are just a day away from joining 29 other NHL clubs in the festivities of July 1st. To a lot of people, it is just another summer day to be enjoyed outside. For many others, it's a day meant for excitement or anguish which steals one's complete attention for TSN, Twitter and any other fast paced media outlet that will have updates on the opening of NHL Free Agency.
The Isles appear set to be parting ways with Mark Eaton, Steve Staios, Milan Jurcina and perhaps their most important free agent, PA Parenteau. The latter has served as an important member on the team's top line for the past two seasons and is coming off his biggest year, likely to command a long term contract and a significant pay raise on the open market.
The previously mentioned defenseman will not receive any grief for signing elsewhere. In fact, many Islanders fans will probably be overjoyed that they will have the opportunity to see aging veterans replaced by young, upcoming talent from within the organization.
You couldn't have been more wrong if you predicted the Islanders to take a forward in this year's draft. The Isles only selected defenseman out of all seven rounds of this year's draft. They also acquired the top four defenseman that GM Garth Snow has continuously talked about addressing in this off-season.
The first move came when NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the Islanders traded their 2013 second round pick to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Lubomir Visnovsky, a 35-year old defenseman (he turns 36 in August) in the final year of his contract. Visnovsky put up six goals and 21 assists for 27 points in 68 games last year with the Ducks. The year before was even better as the Ducks d-man scored 61 points in 81 games. 2012 was a tough year overall for the Ducks, so there's reason to believe that Visnovsky can be an offensive weapon, especially on the power play.
What is going on with the Islanders and their prospects? Rhett Rakhshani has signed a one-year deal with HV71 in Sweden, Justin DiBenedetto is on his way to Austria and Mark Katic is going to Germany. Granted Trevor Gillies also signed to play in Russia but he was never going to see the NHL again and I think we can all agree on that. What does this mean for the players and the Islanders as an organization?
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.
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.
When it rains, it pours; that has been the mantra of the New York Islanders this weekend. Yesterday the Isles let up six goals in a loss to the Boston Bruins that mathematically eliminated themselves from playoff contention. Today, they continued their struggling ways in a 5-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators, who were without both Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson.
"It was pretty horrible on our part. They were missing two of their top players and we couldn't take advantage of it. The way we played, we didn't deserve to win, that's for sure," said Islanders captain Mark Streit after the game. He would be the only Islander to be credited with a goal tonight with a John Tavares pass going off of his skate and behind Senators net-minder Craig Anderson.
The Islanders traveled to Montreal last night and finally came out with two points. After being winless in their last five games, the Islanders faced off against the 14th place Montreal Canadiens.
For the Canadiens, this season could have gone much smoother and produced a better result. They are a team that underachieved, especially them being a team that made it to the Stanley Cup playoffs for multiple seasons in a row.