It is rare when a player stays for more than three seasons with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The team exists for one purpose and one purpose only … develop talent for their NHL affiliate, the New York Islanders.
Each September, a half-dozen or so twenty-year olds arrive in Bridgeport to begin their careers as professional hockey players against bigger, faster, stronger competition.
This years arrivals could include forwards Brock Nelson, Kirill Kabanov, Johan Sundstrom, John Persson, Mike Halmo and perhaps Nino Niederreiter, each, an investment by the Islanders in the future of the franchise.
Griffin Reinhart was selected by the Islanders with the fourth overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. The 6'4, 202-pound defenseman recently signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Isles that could kick into effect as soon as the 2013 season.
Many of you are already familiar with the way that this can play out. Reinhart will have nine games of eligibility before he could be sent back to his Junior team, the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL. The 18-year old defenseman has already played three seasons for the Oil Kings and had his best last year, scoring 12 goals, 24 assists for 36 points in 58 games played. That totals a eleven point increase over the previous season.
Reinhart clearly has the size, but the question will be if he has the skill and mentality to compete at the NHL level.
Nino Niederreiter came into the NHL last season with a lot of high hopes and expectations. From a stats stand point, it's safe to say that he fell very short of the mark for anyone's standards.
In 55 games, the 19 year old winger scored one goal along with a -29 rating and 12 penalty minutes after spending basically the entire season on the fourth line. His line-mates for the majority of the year were Jay Pandolfo ,Tim Wallace (prior to being claimed by the Tampa Bay Lightning) or Micheal Haley as well as other various candidates that were dressed depending on that game's line-up.
It's safe to say that he wasn't playing with the most offensively capable skaters, and he had to do so in limited ice time as well.
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.
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?
Before I begin talking Islanders hockey, I owe my readers, as well as the other bloggers that write for this site, an apology. For those of you who don't know, the bloggers here at TCL Isles follow a schedule that I create. I also arrange my blogs to follow in that schedule as well, and I continue to remind our staff to do their best to keep up with it while trying to allow some freedome since it's the summer.
I have been out of sync with managing the site for about the past two weeks. Without getting into things, I can promise that I am now fully back on track and apologize for my absence.Fortunately, there hasn't been an over abundance of stories to report.
Sadly, John Tavares lost to Pekka Rinne in the EA Sports voting bracket for the cover of NHL 2013. He made it all the way to the semi-finals but fell short to the Predators net-minder. Maybe next year will be a different story. But Islanders fans certainly made a point to the rest of the league by showing that their voice can be loud when they have a reason to be heard.
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..."
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.
The Islanders make their last visit to New Jersey this season on Tuesday night. As the season winds down and the playoffs officially out of reach the Islanders will look for positives for next season out of every game. The Islanders will also look to rebound back from the last minute lost to the Devils the last time these two teams meet.
One thing to watch for in this game is the NHL debut of Matt Donovan. The defenseman has had a very good season for the Sound Tigers were he scored 42 points (10 goals and 32 assists) in 69 games this season. This could be sort of a try out for the young guy as the team looks towards next season. He will be paired with Dylan Reese tonight as Staios and Jurcina are scratched.