Before the first puck was dropped this year there were a few questions about the Bridgeport Sound Tigers chances of repeating as division champions. The biggest question being, who is going to do the scoring?
Of the top thirteen scoring forwards from last season only David Ullstrom and Casey Cizikas returned. Free agents Brandon DeFazio and Colin McDonald, acquired from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penquins, and Matt Watkins from the Portland Pirates will provide a solid veteran presence that can be counted on to put up some big numbers, but what about the kids?
The boys are back in town and sales will soon increase at Chipotles, Mr. Macs Canteen and dozens of restaurants in the area as the players prepare for the upcoming season.
It will not be long before locals can expect a Swedish flag flying outside a home rented by John Persson, Johan Sundstrom, David Ullstrom and Anders Nillson while larea chefs cringe as Ullstrom adds ketchup to the marinara sauce they spent hours preparing.
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.
The New York Islanders will finally have a better picture of what their defense will look like in 2013 as Lubomir Visnovsky's arbitration hearing is set to take place in just three days on September 4th. (Photo Credit: Bridget Samuels/Flickr)
As many of you know, Visnovsky filed a grievance with the NHLPA stating that the trade from the Anaheim Ducks to the Isles voided his No-Trade Clause and that the Ducks never approached him about the deal when they should have. However, the Ducks state that his NTC was used when the Edmonton Oilers dealt him to the Ducks in 2010.
If Visnovsky wins the decision, he remains part of the Ducks organization. If he loses, the trade stands and he is a member of the New York Islanders.
With all the talk about a possible lockout which could result in a shorten or even a cancelled season, there is one guarantee for the hockey season and that is the release of one of the best video games ever; NHL 2013.
Earlier this month the NHL 2013 ratings were leaked to Yahoo! Sports writer, Puck Daddy and he separated them into two posts, one being the Eastern Conference teams and the other for, you guessed it, the Western Conference teams.
Anyone who has played "NHL" knows how realistic the game can be. When looking at the ratings for the Islanders, there were some questionable choices made by EA Sports, but there were also some spot on ones. Let’s take a look at the ratings for the whole Islanders team.(Photo Credit: Yahoo/Puck Daddy)
Travis Hamonic has been growing as a player since the day he was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2008 NHL Entry Level Draft. After playing two more years in the WHL, Hammer floated his way up to the AHL in 2010-11 to play with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the ripe age of 20. The Isles saw enough of Travis in 19 games to believe he was ready for NHL level competition. He started his career with the New York Islanders in November 2010 and has been a staple on the Islanders’ blue line since. (Photo Credit: Flickr/clydeorama)
Travis Hamonic’s impressive play did not stop on defense. He added 21 assists to go along with his 5 goals that season. Most telling of his stellar performance was his +/- which resided at +4 after his first year in the NHL.
In 2011-12, Hammer’s rise up the Islanders’ depth chart continued. He had another promising campaign full of great defensive plays and improvement in all aspects of his game. Hamonic finished with a +6 to go along with his 22 assists. Although, he may have decreased his uniform number from 36 to 3, his play has only increased with time.
But there are traits about Travis Hamonic that go beyond the statistics. On paper, he is a rising star in the Islanders organization and one of the best young defensemen that has donned the uniform in a long time. But his intangibles are what truly excite fans of the Islanders.
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.