There is less than 12 hours until the third lockout begins under Commissioner Gary Bettman's watch. The last occurred back in 2004, canceling the 2004-2005 season and resulted in a new salary cap system. However, that system has been failing the smaller market teams, forcing them to keep up with the other clubs who earn more revenue and can afford higher salaries.
The owners and the NHLPA are fine with a salary cap system; they are not trying to reinvent the wheel all over again. But both sides are trying to structure an agreement on how the revenue is shared between the owners and players.
In recent discussions, several different proposals have been thrown on the table but none have come close to settling the disagreement. Bettman has been prepared to lockout his players if a new deal is not reached by the end of today. Although each side is likely to meet with each other before the day is over, it seems very unlikely that an 11th hour deal will be made.
Despite talks of another NHL season getting wiped out entirely, many players from the New York Islanders have returned to the Island to prepare for training camp. This week, Eric Boulton, Matt Carkner, Michael Grabner, Kirill Kabanov, Andrew MacDonald, Brock Nelson, Nino Niederreiter, Frans Nielsen, Marty Reasoner and Johan Sundstrom took part in some informal skates at Islanders Ice Works in Syosset. (Photo Credit: Islanders Hockey Blog/Flickr).
These players have not only been skating, but they have been active off the ice as well. Just yesterday Michael Grabner signed 150 autographs for the first group of fans to attend the grand opening of the Cantiague Park Pro Shop.
The past few weeks have been important for guys like Boulton and Carkner, who are just meeting some of their Islanders teammates for the first time after signing contracts with the organization on the first day of Free Agency.
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.