Archive for the ‘New York Islanders’ Category

The Sore Thumb: New York Islanders

October 8, 2009

Thanks to Abel Prado for the logo

Instead of trying to keep with the Joneses with our season previews, we thought it would be a better idea to wait a week or two and then ask an insanely simple question to some of our favorite team bloggers.

That question is: all in-depth analysis aside, what flaw or weakness in your team sticks out like a sore thumb?


First up is Dominik from Lighthouse Hockey, SBN’s excellent New York Islanders blog. Make sure to follow their great Isles coverage amid the excitement of John Tavares’ rookie season.

Everyone says the Islanders are in for another tough season (true), but they never say why (because they don’t have to check the roster to declare why last year’s 30th-place team is bad? I don’t know). The goaltending is obviously vastly improved. The forward lines and powerplay could actually be dangerous: John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and possibly Matt Moulson, an old friend friend of Tavares with chemistry that gives him the spot on his wing; plus Josh Bailey, a ready-to-emerge Sean Bergenheim and the unsung Frans Nielsen, not to mention Mark Streit and Doug Weight on the powerplay points.

The sore thumb? The blueline. Streit is a good number one. Everyone else is … something else. Bruno Gervais plays great paired with Streit — but who doesn’t? After that, Brendan Witt may bounce back this year, but he’s still practically their only physical defender. Freddy Meyer hits but is small and fragile. Andy Sutton is big but is allergic to hitting (relative to his size) and fragile. Radek Martinek is an above average two-way blueliner … but fragile. As a group, when healthy they collapse too much and don’t clear the net enough. As a group, when NOT healthy — the more common state of affairs — it looks like last season (which was really bad. I checked).

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Is the Atlantic now the best division in the NHL?

June 29, 2009

So, with the draft behind us and our free agency coverage ready to begin tomorrow, we don’t have much time for general NHL meandering. But with the mammoth Chris Pronger trade and John Tavares going to the New York Islanders, we couldn’t help but wonder:

Is the Atlantic Division now primed to become the best division in the entire league?

Let’s look at the “Pros” for such an argument.

1. Everything the Penguins bring to the table

It never hurts to have the reigning Stanley Cup champions in your division, especially since they’re obviously not a flash in the pan after going to two SCFs in a row. They might not always be great in the regular season, but it’s hard to deny their heart, hustle and talent.

2. All kinds of elite talent, most of it young

Pronger gives this division the one thing it truly lacked: an elite defenseman (with all due respect to Sergei Gonchar). Pittsburgh features two of the three best forwards in the league. New Jersey saw Zach Parise jump to an elite level and also employs a goalie with more wins than any in NHL history.

Along with Parise and Pittsburgh’s dynamic duo, the Flyers have Mike Richards and Jeff Carter while the Islanders even landed a blue chip in Tavares.

3. Four quality teams

In addition to the Penguins, the Atlantic produced half of the Eastern Conference’s playoff representatives with the Rangers, Flyers and Devils also making it to the postseason.

4. Enigmatic, but potentially outstanding goaltending

Every Atlantic division team has a goalie who could be somewhere between above average to outstanding. Obviously, one must assume that Brodeur is still an outstanding goalie but it goes beyond that.

Henrik Lundqvist consistently puts together borderline Vezina caliber seasons. Marc Andre Fleury was erratic at times in the postseason, but a lot of people will probably remember his save on Nicklas Lidstrom a long time after they forget about some of those awful goals he allowed against the Washington Capitals.

Even the question mark goalies have potential. Sure, Ray Emery is a head case who eats bugs and potentially consumes other harmful toxins in his free time, but let’s not forget that he was often excellent in the Senators’ run to a SCF berth. Say what you want about his lifetime contract, Rick Dipietro was once the future of American goaltending and might still have a chance to be a solid franchise goalie if he can get over his injury concerns.

***

Again, this is looking at the situation before what typically changes the league the most: July 1st. Still, it’s interesting to ask: at this moment in time, did the Atlantic division leapfrog the Pacific and Central as the class of the NHL?

We’d love to hear what you think about that.

CLS on the draft: Dominik from Lighthouse Hockey on the New York Islanders

June 9, 2009

(During the trade deadline, CLS managed to wrangle/hypnotize/sweet talk/blackmail at least one team blogger from every NHL team [except, oddly, Edmonton] to tell us what they would do if they were their team’s GM. It was one of the best features in this blog’s brief history.

Still, there were some lessons learned. For instance: it’s not a good idea to jam 6-7 posts from 30+ contributors into one 24 hour period. So, this time around, we decided to get started early.

What better way to kick off our draft coverage than to start with the owners of the No. 1 pick, the New York Islanders? To get an expert and fan’s perspective on the Islanders, we enlisted Dominik from Lighthouse Hockey. Lighthouse Hockey is the Islanders representative at Sports Blog Nation. Our guess is that Dominik’s blog will keep getting bigger as the Isles get better [and, for the record, we believe the Islanders have reason for hope for the first time in a very long time]. Make sure you check out Dominik’s blog after you read this piece.)

1. We might as well get the most obvious question out of the way first: if you were Garth Snow, would you draft Tavares or Hedman (or even someone else)? Why? Is it an easy choice or would you lose sleep and hair making the decision?

DOMINIK: If I were Garth Snow — and my therapist keeps telling me I’m not — I would alternately pinch myself for the great choice I have, yet also lie awake at night, crying at the ramifications of my decision 5-10 years down the line.

People (both pro-Tavares and pro-Hedman) keep telling me it’s a “no-brainer” for their candidate. Well, it’s not. It’s only an easy decision in that, logically, you can’t go wrong: Both Tavares and Hedman are great, and the Islanders need both offense and defense. I’m of the whole “build around a franchise D” school, but I’m also of the belief you want to be certain the guy you’re building around is actually a franchise D and not Chris Phillips.

The Isles have a still-improving, near-Norris caliber Mark Streit signed for four more years, who can carry things while Hedman develops. But flip that around, and the Isles have Streit already, so give him an actual frontline stud like Tavares to feed the puck to from the blueline, and we’ve got two key elements.

The agony of this decision is in the unknown: When you go for the highly rated sniper, you could end up with Mike Bossy or you could get Perry Turnbull. When you go for the much-hyped blueline stud, you could end up with Chris Pronger (who, mind you, took a while to become “Chris Pronger, stud bastard”) or you could end up with Ed Jovanovski. Nice players, all of them, but one is quiiite a bit nicer than the other.

If both players are of roughly equal value, franchise-wise, I say go with who provides you both immediate and long-term gain. That’s …

… John Tavares. This franchise can get a lot of near-term mileage out of having him scoring goals next year, selling tickets, building excitement. By the time his first deal is expiring, the Lighthouse Project will be on the way and he’ll have fallen in love with Long Island. With excitement and fear of him being shut down by Hedman in a future East Conference final, I choose Tavares.

2. Going forward with Tavares/Hedman, what steps would you take next? Would you try to bring in a high profile free agent (by dangling the carrot of playing on an up-and-coming team) or hope to have a top-end draft pick next year, too?

[Or do you think they can make a surprise jump next year?]

DOMINIK: People don’t realize that without the Isles’ biblical plague of injuries, they would have been a 20-25 ranked team this past season, putting them in line for another decent pick, but not a superstar. They were lucky to both win the lottery prize AND have theoretical cover for the awful season. I don’t know if they’ll be so “lucky” next year, but they have to stay the course (“thousand points of light …”).

No top-tier free agent is going to sign here until the arena/location situation is settled, and the Isles have no business taking a shortcut on the rebuild now. For Scott Gordon’s sake and the fans’ sake, they absolutely need to improve next season. BUT: They have to do it from within, continuing to develop their kids. If, er … when, they fall short and land out of the playoffs, I won’t be crying.

They’re accumulating a decent haul of prospects now. My biggest priority is locating a goaltender for next year and one for the future. Even if Rick DiPietro comes back healthy, they have to plan around the certainty that his body isn’t making it from now to age 40 without further time on the shelf.

3. Looking back on the Islanders draft history, which draft picks had the most positive impact on the franchise? Are there any amazing steals that stick out to you? I’m going to guess wildly that those might be around the late 70s.

DOMINIK: Obviously, the ’70s drafts are what made this franchise. Nystrom in ’73 (3rd pick, 33rd overall), Denis Potvin #1 in ’74, Clark Gillies (#4) and Bryan Trottier (#22) in ’75. Mike Bossy (#15) and John Tonelli (#33) in ’77. Add some more grit and a crazy clutch goaltender and you have a dynasty.

The Isles don’t really have any steals, but all of their best late finds seem to involve the former Czechoslovakia. David Volek at #208 in 1984; Zdeno Chara at #56 in 1996 was a great gamble on an awkward, lanky kid who everyone thought should be playing basketball. Radek Martinek at #228 in 1999 was inspired — despite learning in retrospect he was made of exploda-bones. I should add that Russian Vladimir Malakhov at #191 in 1989 showed general awareness of the rest of the world. Better late than never, I guess.

4. Conversely, what are some drafts that were absolute disasters for your team? Share some of the most painful “What if?” scenarios in Isles draft history.

DOMINIK: The obvious one is, “What if Mike Milbury didn’t have his hands on the roster for a decade?” But that’s like asking, “What if The biggest current-era tragedies you’ll hear from tortured Isles fans include drafting Robert Nilsson in 2003 over Zach Parise (“Oh, is he good? Is he the son of an ex-Islander? Better pass on him.”). 1998’s Michael Rupp at #9 hurt, but a look at the picks right after him shows no one really knew what to make of that year’s pool other than “Lecavalier is Michael Jordan.”

But for me the reign of error starts pre-Milbury, in 1989: What if in 1989, instead of Dave Chyzowski at #2 overall they’d taken Bill Guerin or Bobby Holik? Or anyone Detroit drafted in that epic year? What if, instead of Scott Scissons at #6 in 1990, they’d taken Keith Tkachuk (#19) or Derian Hatcher (#8)? What if they’d heard of Sweden before and drafted Peter Forsberg in 1991 instead of Scott Lachance at #4? That’s not funny, that’s cruel. [Editor’s note: That’s just a brutal paragraph chock full of pain and regret.]

In fairness, you can play that game with any team, in any draft year. The draft is above all a crap-shoot involving projecting a bunch of hormonally explosive teenagers, which is why I always feel like a tool ripping some scouts’ hours upon hours spent enduring bad coffee and cold rinks to parse future Daigles from future Zetterbergs.

If you’d projected me at 17, you’d have said I’d become one wealthy bastard. If you projected me at 19, you’d be stunned if I ever got a full-time job to support an inevitable 10 children with five mothers. Stuff happens. Still, that 1989-91 run of first-round misses set the stage to make Mike Milbury sound like an improvement.

5. Feel free to take the floor. Any thoughts on the future of the Islanders or how the draft will affect the Lighthouse Project? This is your chance to stand on a soapbox.

DOMINIK: I’ve talked your ear off already, but things are looking guardedly optimistic for the Lighthouse Project. Wang and the politician seen as obstacle #1 (Town of Hempstead supervisor Kate Murray) finally met — twice — recently and are formulating a timetable going forward. I’ve always figured it would eventually get done, there would just be a lot of posturing and pissing matches before then. There are surely more of those to come, but some form of this project seems too logical — for Long Island, not just for the hockey club — to not happen.

A necessary procedural vote happens July 7. If that goes well after the #1 pick — and Wang is even talking about “shovel in ground” in April 2010 — then I can see things looking up, tickets being sold, future sort of bright, gotta wear shades ‘n all that. Even if the Isles disappoint 80% of fans by drafting Hedman, I think the sun will come up.

***Something non-Islanders that intrigues me about the draft: What if the Isles take Hedman — then what does Tampa Bay do? They almost *have* to take Hedman/Duchene and trade Vinny for blueline help, right?

(In the next draft post, we’ll ask the folks from SBN Nation Lightning blog Raw Charge that very question, as well as a few others.)

Where should the Sedins cycle in 2009-10?

May 11, 2009

July isn’t that far off into the future, really. Every now and then, we’ll take a look at some of the more interesting free agent situations.

Since we named this crazy little blog after the Sedin twins, it only makes sense to start with them. Now that the Canucks are out of the playoffs, let’s ask: where will those whacky gingers land?

***

How much are the Sedin twins worth? From what I’ve read, it sounds like it will take about $13 million to wrap up those weird looking twingers. James Mirtle provided a fantastic rundown detailing the fact that they might just in fact be worth that much cash (and cap space). With that in mind, let’s take a look at the teams that should strongly consider wrapping those freakish little Swedes up:

Vancouver
Salary Cap 2009-10: (without Sedins) about $31.3 million; (with Sedins) about $44.3 million

Naturally, the team that drafts you usually gets the benefit of the doubt in re-signing a player. The Canucks have improved this season as players like Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler raise their games, but they still would be extremely weak offensively if they let their two point-per-game players go via free agency. If the Canucks are willing to tie their future to the Sedin twins, then they have the money to do it.

Twin-o-meter:

Almost too obvious, like a reference to the movie “Twins.”

New York Islanders
The Islanders cap (with or without the Sedins) is a bit hard to figure because I still haven’t quite wrapped my mind around how rookie contracts will show up on the cap. As you may or may not already know, incentive clauses will be reflected differently on next year’s cap numbers.

If Hockey Buzz’s NHLSCAP page is correct, the Islanders currently have about $32.5 million committed to players going into the 2009-10 season. The good news is that money constitutes nearly enough roster spots to fill a whole team. The bad news is that those roster spots would be filled mostly be awful hockey players.

John Tavares (please tell me the Islanders draft him, they’ve made enough mistakes already … just take the big name Canadian forward and move on) will mean a cap hit between $1 million and $4 million. In a worst case scenario, adding the Sedins and Tavares would bring the cap to $50 million.

This would give the Islanders four nice offensive players (Tavares – Sedin twins – Kyle Okposo) to construct to respectable forward lines. This could actually be a good move if Rick Dipietro can bounce back from knee surgery, but there’s just so many “ifs” that it would be hard to imagine the Sedin twins going to Long Island.

Twin-o-meter:

Could be awesome, but could also be a train wreck … like the Olsen twins

Nashville Predators
Pre-Sedin Cap: $33 million; With Sedins: $46 million

While it wasn’t the first match that came to my head, it almost makes sense. After all, isn’t cycling the puck hockey’s answer to the line dance? (cricket chirps … dodges a tomato)

The Predators could conceivably bring the Sedins aboard and pair them up (perhaps) with tail-between-his-legs Alex Radulov to give the team what could be the franchise’s greatest line ever. The Sedins seem like they would fit in nicely with the Predators’ worker bee mentality.

You’d have to think they could make the playoffs with a core of Sedins-Radulov(?)-Jason ArnottShea WeberPekka RinneJ.P. Dumont, right?

Twin-o-meter:

Could be brilliant, but might upset mainstream audiences like “Dead Ringers.”

The Southern Ontario Team-to-be-Named-Laters
Pre-Sedins Cap: $32.1 million, with Sedins: $45.1 million

If the Coyotes DO get moved, you know Mr. Blackberry will want to bring some top-end talent to a roster that was gutted during the trade deadline. There are some really nice steals and semi-steals on this roster: Shane Doan is a nice power forward who could fit in well with the Sedins at a low price ($4.55 million cap hit) and Kyle Turris/Peter Mueller both have sub-$3 million contracts that could end up being steals in the right situation.

Who knows: the South Hamilton ex-Yotes could end up adding Jay Bouwmeester and the Sedins for $20 million and make a lot of people nervous.

Twin-o-meter:

Could be ugly, like the Phoenix Coyotes situation and the movie “Stuck on You.”

Living GM vs. Blogging GM: Atlantic division

March 12, 2009

To wrap up our Trade Deadline coverage, we’ll take a look at the big moves (and non-moves) in each division one-by-one. Did our contributors and their respective GMs see eye-to-eye? Would those guest posts provide a better reality than what really came about? Let’s take a look at the Atlantic division.

Real Life: Pittsburgh Penguins traded a bag of pucks for Bill Guerin

Tony Ferrante from The Confluence (Kukla’s Korner) said:

“If I were GMRS (GM Ray Shero), I’d trade Ryan Whitney for Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi (just kidding, but a good move). Then I’d trade Hal Gill and a mid-round draft pick for either another winger or an agitator (Neil). I would also not rule out some kind of move for another defenseman …

Boy, a lot of Pens bloggers wanted to get rid of Hal Gill but it didn’t happen. I wasn’t crazy about the Guerin pickup, but at least they gave up next to nothing for him.

Real Life: New York Rangers make typical crazy Glen Sather moves: they acquired Derek Morris and Nik Antropov for a second round pick, a conditional pick, Dimitri Kalinin, Nigel Dawes and Petr Prucha.

Patrick Hoffman from Goal Line Report (Kuklas Korner) said:

“However, the only thing that will probably happen this week is that the club will claim Sean Avery off re-entry waivers and dump a salary or two. A lot of Blueshirt fans will wish it will be someone like Wade Redden or may be even someone like Drury but believe me when I say that those two aren’t going anywhere.

To sum it all up, this team is stuck with the roster that Sather built during these past two off-seasons, for better or worse.”

Well, the Rangers are stuck … more stuck. OK, so the guys they added are UFAs but they lost two draft picks and some borderliners for not much. Sather’s always a good source of laughter.

Real Life: The Islanders get next to nothing for Bill Guerin. Fail to dump salary. Fail fail fail.
Dominik from Light House Hockey said:

“Oh wait, this was about trades? Well, in that case, sell, SELL, SELL! UFA Andy Hilbert is a useful defensive forward and penalty killer who’s having a “career” year (shhhhh: 10 G = career year). Take best offer. Same with Guerin (in the works) and even the injured Doug Weight, due back from IR by the playoffs. Parlay Dean McAmmond — who looks alive since coming over for Comrie — for scraps. If someone somehow asked me for Jeff Tambellini — who can’t score outside of the shootout or the AHL — I’d pay his airfare and meal tab.”

Nope, sadly, just Guerin. Oh well.

Real Life: The Devils decide to settle for their embarrassment of riches.

John Fischer from In Lou We Trust said:

“If I were the GM of the Devils, I would be hanging up the phone and saying the phrase “Sorry, but we’re not interested” over and over again over the next few days. Especially if the call begins with “We would like to know the availability of Travis Zajac or Johnny Oduya.” Basically, I’d ignore the trade deadline unless a team really, really wants Scott Clemmensen or Kevin Weekes and is offering an offensive defenseman.”

Bingo.

Real Life: Flyers trade Scottie Upshall, 2011 second round pick and a 6th round draft pick for Kyle McLaren and Daniel Carcillo

Flyers Goal Scored By said:

“We then would put everyones’ names around a dartboard, chug out 3 beers, and then fire 4 darts to see who is going. Then really hot souf philly girls would come into our office and tell us how awesome we were at “GM’ing” and then totally make out with each other, and then us, and then back to each other until 3pm. Then we’d high-five and crush a cheesesteak before falling asleep to old Rick Tocchet highlights. Being a GM rules … “

(OK, they also said that they should go after Jay Bouwmeester.)

Instead of going after Bouwmeester, the Flyers made a move for an immobile defenseman and one of the most undisciplined players in the NHL. In other words, they did the same thing they’ve been doing for …. 30 years?

If you were the GM (Atlantic division)

March 4, 2009

(With the trade deadline upon us, Cycle like the Sedins decided to ask about 30 or so friends in the blogosphere to represent his or her team and answer the question: “What would you do if you were the GM during the trade deadline?

Since things change in a heartbeat, the date of each person’s submission is listed next to each entry. So before you start screaming “BUT THEY TRADED HIM!” while food spills out of your mouth, we’re showing what they thought at the time.

Don’t like it? Psh.)

Pittsburgh Penguins
(March 2)
Denson from Bangin’ Panger

Well, the Pens are on a roll lately…getting themselves back into the playoff picture. What, you may ask, has attributed to such a turn around? Obviously it is the arrival of this Jordan Staal character that must have come over with the Chris Kunitz/Ryan Whitney trade. Don’t know too much about this Staal guy, according to every game ever against the Hurricanes and Rangers … he has brothers that play in the NHL as well. Who knew?

So if I’m Ray Shero what are my next moves? Well for one, Shitan is traded for one of Jerome Iginlas extra mucles in-between his Tibialis anterior and Peroneus longus (the muscle that makes black people go real real fast)…and it is implanted in Hal Gill. Mario Lemieux comes out of retirement to replace Shitan to stand on the opposing team’s blueline all game…only Mario will score. Phillepe Bouche is traded for acid to fill Crosby’s tear ducts…so when Ovechkin bullies him, Crosby’s tears will melt Ovechkin. And a 2nd and 3rd round draft pick is able to fetch Malkin some Hooked On Phonics lessons and Crosby some Shit Talking Lessons with Joey Porter. This all would obviously make the Pittsburgh Penguins the favorite for the Stanley Cup.

(2/28)
Frank D from Pensburgh

Chris Kunitz picked up the same amount of points in the first period of the first game he played in Pittsburgh (1G, 1A) as Ryan Whitney did over his last seven games as a Penguin. If I were the GM I’d look to make that upgrade another 15 to 20 times.

(2/28)
Tony Ferrante from The Confluence (Kukla’s Korner)

If I were GMRS (GM Ray Shero), I’d trade Ryan Whitney for Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi (just kidding, but a good move). Then I’d trade Hal Gill and a mid-round draft pick for either another winger or an agitator (Neil). I would also not rule out some kind of move for another defenseman …

(3/01)
Stefanie from Steel City Sports

If I was Ray Shero, I’d be giving my “Big Guns” a rest right now and sleep through March 4th!!

Seeing as how Shero already pulled the trigger twice for big moves prior to the trade deadline, I’m hoping he’s not going to do much more.

He’s honestly coming out of this smelling like a rose right now anyway (seeing as how Bylsma looks like a Savior even though it’s more like his system that’s saving the Pens for now), but I still think his decision to fire Therrien sucks and the bottom line is that the Pens began their downward spiral in the off-season thanks to his “wise” decisions when he tried too hard to sign Hossa. That screw job was two-fold: 1) Hossa waited absolutely too long before he “told” us he wasn’t coming back which led to our losing alot of important / key players such as Malone and Ruutu among others (my readers know all too well my thoughts on this though as I’m still lamenting); b) Shero was crazy to wait so long to hear back from Hossa — these two things were the beginning of the demise of the Pens this season and it’s been too much to recover from — all at the hands of their own GM being too enamoured by one Marian Hossa (who I cannot stand at this point, but never really could)!


I’ve gone from thinking Shero was a genius to coming to my senses right now realizing that his most recent decisions make him nothing more than a screw-up. So here’s to hoping that Shero will be quiet leading up to the upcoming trade deadline as I believe Kunitz has been the spark we need to make it into the playoffs by the skin of our teeth!!!

Chris Kontos: Shitan is one of the funniest reverse-nicknames I’ve heard in a long while. The Penguins made a great pickup in Chris Kunitz, a decent offensive player who will pick it up even more with Crosby. The Penguins are going to struggle to make the playoffs but I don’t know if another move is really going to help this team.

James O’Brien: For hockey newbies, the spelling of Satan’s last name is high comedy. Once you get to know him more, you realize Shitan really is the better connection. Have to agree that the Kunitz move is paying dividends and all it cost the Penguins was a guy who wore out his welcome. No more moves needed until the summer.

***

New York Rangers

(2/28)

Patrick Hoffman from Goal Line Report (Kuklas Korner)

If I was New York Rangers General Manager Glen Sather, I’d probably be in hiding since most of my team’s fans are calling for my head on a nightly basis at Madison Square Garden.

In all seriousness, if I am Glen Sather, I would look into getting a finisher. Could that be a guy like Bill Guerin? Could it be someone like Illya Kovalchuk? If it’s guys like that they’re after, the team will have to shed some salary as well as a top player from either their current roster or their farm system.

However, the only thing that will probably happen this week is that the club will claim Sean Avery off re-entry waivers and dump a salary or two. A lot of Blueshirt fans will wish it will be someone like Wade Redden or may be even someone like Drury but believe me when I say that those two aren’t going anywhere.

To sum it all up, this team is stuck with the roster that Sather built during these past two off-seasons, for better or worse.

Chris Kontos: The Drury and Gomez tag team signing is going to haunt this team for a long time. Even after they eventually waive Redden. Getting the Dallas Stars sloppy seconds (too soon?) off of waivers is going to help this team a lot. Avery is at his best when he feels like he has a lot to prove.

James O’Brien: Jeez, it didn’t take long for the lockout intelligence to wear off in New York, did it? People are going to blast the Wade Redden signing (and they did overpay for a guy whose stock went down), but say what you want Redden at least at some point seemed talented. Michal Rosival and Chris Drury are the two signings that were the worst (although giving Scott Gomez a Brad Richards-type contract is pretty bad too) because these players never showed ANY evidence to live up to those contracts.

Drury, in my book, is one of the most over-loved players in the NHL. Sure, he’s a nice guy and has intangibles out the wazoo. But for a guy with a 60 point skill set, he sure gets deified a lot.

Anyone the Rangers can unload would be great. Aside from Henrik Lundqvist, the one player Sather somehow lucked into. Don’t you get the feeling that Lundqvist’s name was found on a napkin thrown out by a Detroit Red Wings scout or something? The Rangers are just such an terribly run franchise. It’s stunning.

***

New York Islanders
(2/28)
Dominik from Light House Hockey

If I were Garth Snow, I would:

Permanently change the uniform scheme back to the original royal blue version as with this season’s thirds, and never speak of any other Islanders uniform again. (Editor’s note: Amen, Dominik. You’re a wise man.)

Oh wait, this was about trades? Well, in that case, sell, SELL, SELL! UFA Andy Hilbert is a useful defensive forward and penalty killer who’s having a “career” year (shhhhh: 10 G = career year). Take best offer. Same with Guerin (in the works) and even the injured Doug Weight, due back from IR by the playoffs. Parlay Dean McAmmond — who looks alive since coming over for Comrie — for scraps. If someone somehow asked me for Jeff Tambellini — who can’t score outside of the shootout or the AHL — I’d pay his airfare and meal tab.

Obviously, the Islanders don’t have much left to sell. But there is one outstanding issue: Brendan Witt, who was capable last season yet awful this one. He doesn’t seem to fit Scott Gordon’s system, yet he has two years left on his contract. While it’s tempting to take the first offer that’s not a prank, on this I’d play the psychology game and wait for that one vulnerable GM with the happy trigger finger. The GM whose team just got pushed around in a conference battle this week and has him (and his fans) second-guessing whether his otherwise loaded team is the proverbial “tough enough for the playoffs.” Find that GM, demand a ransom (like a 1st-round pick and/or real prospect) for this battle-tested warrior [cue “Braveheart” soundtrack during GM call], and let him know I’d be just as happy waiting to deal Witt in the offseason for the scraps he’s currently offering me. If he bites, genius! If not, meh, try to unload or reprogram Witt in the summer.

It goes without saying that, for any and all of the returns for these players, I would persuade Charles Wang to wait until the picks become actual stars before offering them decade-plus contracts. But that’s just me.

Chris Kontos: Get rid of Witt before he starts taking cheap shots on his own players. And definitely keep losing to get Tavares. Then hire Mike Milbury again so that he’ll trade Tavares for Rico Fata and Radek Bonk.

James O’Brien: Haha, hard to top Chris on that one. As I’ve said, Ilya Kovalchuk + Jon Tavares = possible salvation. Or at least the first few steps. Trade everyone. EVERRRRYYYYOOONNNNNEEEE.

***

New Jersey Devils

3/01

John Fischer fromIn Lou We Trust

If I were the GM of the Devils, I would be hanging up the phone and saying the phrase “Sorry, but we’re not interested” over and over again over the next few days. Especially if the call begins with “We would like to know the availability of Travis Zajac or Johnny Oduya.” Basically, I’d ignore the trade deadline unless a team really, really wants Scott Clemmensen or Kevin Weekes and is offering an offensive defenseman.

2/27

Daniel Owens from Frozen Fiend

If I were Loophole Lou …

I’d pluck Avery off waivers just to make sure the Rangers didn’t get him. Then I would fire Sutter and take over the coaching reins myself. And last but not least, I would play Weekes on the last day of the season to make sure Toronto doesn’t make the playoffs.

Seriously though, I’m not sure that there is anything to do. It’s not like a Rupp/Clemmer/draft pick/prospect package is going to be enough to get any player of significance in return. And I don’t think that anything more than that would be worth giving up.
“Hey, David Poile, we’re trying to get the band back together. I’ll trade you this bag of pucks for Arnott. Come on, whattaya say?”

The current Devils lineup is the one that took over first place in the Atlantic. Why change a thing?

Chris Kontos: Much like the Predators are amazing to James, the Devils’ success continue to boggle my mind. And since Brodeur is having such a hard time (/sarcasm) adjusting to being back… I’d say the Devils are in fantastic shape. I think getting rid of Weekes for a draft pick or so would be a great move.

James O’Brien: Ugh, Loophole Lou is getting old. Scott Clemmensen puts up great numbers and … is sent to the AHL? It’s not as bad as banishing Alexander Mogilny, but it’s pretty obnoxious.

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Philadelphia Flyers (EDIT: WE HAVE A GUEST POST WOOOO!)

Submitted by: Flyers Goal Scored By (March 4)If We were GMS,
Well first off, we’d sneak into Ed Snider’s office, skim a little off the top of his massive piggybank, and get to the store for the trade-deadline-day specials: 2 cases of Sierra Nevada, a pack of smokes, some condoms, and massive amounts of beef jerky.

We then would put everyones’ names around a dartboard, chug out 3 beers, and then fire 4 darts to see who is going. Then really hot souf philly girls would come into our office and tell us how awesome we were at “GM’ing” and then totally make out with each other, and then us, and then back to each other until 3pm. Then we’d high-five and crush a cheesesteak before falling asleep to old Rick Tocchet highlights. Being a GM rules…..

In reality, we’d be stressed as shit if we were the Flyers GM. They are getting constant pressure from the media and fans about “making a move”. So one just has to ask, “What’s worth making a move for?”. If we were GMs, we’d be targeting two players, J-Bo and Nikky Backstrom. Since the Wild secured their #1 goalie, that leaves the Flyers with some run-of-the-mill talent to look at. No one can convince me that Bryzgolov or Lehtonen are better than Biron or Nitty. Our goalies are decent enough, and they will stop pucks. What they won’t be able to stop is 40+ shots a game. Enter in JBo. Everyone knows the Flyers need a big defenseman, and no one is sexier right now than Mr. Meester. But what to give up for the guy? Do we toss Florida our junior-college star in James VanRiemsdyk or our blossoming sniper Claude Giroux? There answer is no. Those guys are the future, and will be studly forr years to come. We give up guys who we don’t really want anymore. Guys who in college were cool Freshman year, but then as you got to know them and see how they act when they’re drunk, you’re like “Why am I friends with this guy? He peed on my couch!” There are 4 names out there that look expendable: Randy Jones, Matt Carle, Joffrey Lupul and Scottie Upshall. those guys are talented and are everyday players. Is that enough for JBo? Well, we’ll have to wait and see.

Bottom line: If it’s not JBo, we’re not buying into it.

James O’Brien: Agreed: J-Bow or nothing.

Tavares watch: Islanders could rebuild in a hurry (1 of 2)

January 8, 2009
Not very long ago, I uttered something like this to a buddy of mine: “Man, I hope Tavares doesn’t end up in a hellhole like Long Island.”

However, while researching my Mike Milbury = Matt Millen post, it was hard to ignore Garth Snow’s NHL draft wizardy. Doing the math is a little tricky so here’s a visual aid from Isles info.com’s Islanders’ GM history:

06/20/08: NYI trade 2008 Entry Draft first round pick(fifth overall – D Luke Schenn) to TOR for first round pick in 2008 (seventh overall), TOR’s 3rd round pick in 2008 (68th overall) and TOR’s 2nd round pick in 2009.

06/20/08: NYI trade TOR’s 1st round pick in the 2008 Entry Draft (seventh overall – C Colin Wilson, previously acquired) to NSH for FLA’s 1st round pick in 2008 (ninth overall – C Josh Bailey, previously acquired) and FLA’s 2nd round pick in 2008 (40th overall – D Aaron Ness, previously acquired).

06/21/08: NYI acquire CHI’s third round pick (72nd overall – D Jyri Niemi)and fourth round pick (102nd overall – W David Ullstrom) in 2008 for TOR’s
third round pick in 2008 (68th overall – D Shawn Lalonde, previously acquired).

Impressive. Snow basically moved the Islanders first round pick for Florida’s first and second round picks, Chicago’s third and fourth round picks in 2008 plus Toronto’s 2009 2nd-rounder. As good as Luke Schenn and Colin Wilson could end up, that’s a hell of a leap in the rebuilding process.

Tavares + big name free agent could really accelerate the Islanders rebuilding process (and Tavares + huge cap space could help the Islanders land that big free agent).

So that alone gives the Islanders a light at the end of the tunnel, but now let’s get hypothetical:

Semi-plausible moves that could reignite the Islanders

Step 1: Winning the Tavares lottery

Obviously this is the portion that’s dedicated exclusively to random chance. The Isles are the worst team in the NHL right now and will likely finish with the most lottery balls at the end of the season, but that in no way guarantees that they’ll get the #1 pick.

Getting the second pick wouldn’t be horrible since the only spot locked up long term is #1 goalie thanks to Rick Dipietro‘s life sentence long-term deal. But as tall and talented as that Swede might be, the Islanders need a shot in the arm only Tavares can provide. Badly.

What better way to help the Islanders sell the idea of a new arena than to add the most hyped Canadian since Sidney Crosby?

(Quick aside for those hockey’s futures nuts out there: what is a reasonable estimate for a healthy first season for Tavares? Could his production be Crosby-like, Patrick Kane-like or more like Joe Thornton‘s rough rookie year?)

Step 2: Trade for Kovalchuk or throw the bank at Marian Hossa

Personally, I think Kovalchuk would be a better bet because his talents are “sexier.” Hossa’s a fantastic player, but you get the feeling that Kovalchuk would dazzle New Yorkers deeply. A rare victory for sizzle over steak.

If Atlanta decides to deal Kovalchuk, the Islanders have picks and prospects to spare

With Doug Weight ($4.5 mil), Bill Guerin ($4.3 mil), Mike Comrie ($4 mil) and Mike Sillinger ($2.2 mil) coming off the books this summer, the Islanders could transform their roster from washed-up, overpaid veterans to whatever image the “new” Islanders would seek.

($17 million from four players for non-math majors)

If NHLSCAP figures are correct, their overall cap would be right under $31 million with 8 forwards, 7 defensemen and 1 goaltender under contract (not counting minor leaguers … although you can argue many of their starters belong in the AHL).

In that dream scenario, Tavares would probably have a Stamkos-like cap hit. Let’s say $4 million to be safe. Let’s also assume that the cap goes down to , say, $55 million when factoring in the deadbeat economy.

The Islanders could throw a “horse head in the bed” offer at Marian Hossa or easily absorb the last year of Kovalchuk’s contract. Hell, if you really want to dream big imagine the Islanders somehow landing Kovalchuk – Hossa – Tavares or Kovalchuk – Gaborik – Tavares or something of that nature. Crazier things have happened.

[Note: decided to break this gigantic post up into two parts.]

Hypothetical hope for the Islanders part II

January 8, 2009
The Sedins bringing their cycling circus act to Coney Island? Could be worse …

Even if the Islanders lose the Tavares lottery, their $20 million-plus cap space and their rapidly improving stable of prospects puts them in a great position to rebuild. How about we rank some of the guys who would best fit the Islanders?

1. Kovalchuk – This is only based on heavy trade rumors. Honestly, the Thrashers shouldn’t trade him (the reason, beyond his bodacious skills, will be revealed sooen enough).

2. Hossa – The common thread of wisdom for Hossa is that he’s the hockey version of a smoking hot bridesmaid. Even if he’s not the type of player who can carry a team on his back, Hossa is the most talented free agent and may go into Show Me the Money mode after taking a one-year Cup run contract.

3/4. The Sedin twins – Why break up the Sedin twins when they are so effective together? The Islanders might be a really nice destination for the efficient dopplegangers. Even if they sign matching $6 million contracts the Islanders could still improve the team around them.

5. Jay Bouwmeester – He’s not flashy (except in video games) but he’s the kind of player who can be a cornerstone. With the big minutes he plays and well rounded game he brings the table, he could be a nice fit for the Islanders.

But they’d probably need to add an offensive stud because Bouwmeester isn’t really a ticket seller.

6. Johan Franzen – The Mule is here and Henrik Zetterberg is not for a simple reason. It’s almost unthinkable that Detroit would allow Zetterberg to walk. Not when they very well might lose Hossa. Not when Franzen, despite his undeniable goal scoring skills, cannot stay on the ice.

Franzen could be a good fit in Long Island if he could stay relatively healthy. Hell, a Franzen + Sedins line would be a hell of a consolation prize if bigger things fall through.

Keep dreaming.

7. Marian Gaborik – Honestly, it feels like the team who signs Gaborik is like a newlywed couple who unwittingly adopts that creepy little girl from “The Ring.” But let’s face it, the Islanders are one of those teams that might need to pay up big just for the PR boost.

Even though it’s a thrill to watch Gabby on a breakaway, his signing would be a Shakespearian tragedy for a team that’s had plenty of helpings of bad luck.

8. Alex Kovalev – There’s a buyer beware to Kovalev. Either his drive does not match his blinding talent or his talent is better suited for stunning Youtube videos. Whatever way you slice it, Kovalev’s not the guy you want with that Ayn Rand-ian weight of the world on his shoulders.

Still, if the Islanders try a quantity over quality approach Kovalev could be an asset.

9. Brian Gionta – It’s hard to say if a guy like Gionta would flounder outside of NJ or if he would flourish without the spoused shackles of the NJ system. Judging from the lackluster post-NJ careers of guys like Scott Gomez, expectations should be “less than or equal to.” Then again, adding Gionta certainly would add a little spice to the Devils – Islanders rivalry (whatever you may think of that rivalry).

10. Erik Cole – Call me an Erik Cole apologist, but I’ve been a fan since the Hurricanes Cup year. Then again, he’s clearly never been the same after that dirty Brooks Orpik hit that almost ended his career. Would he take a pay cut or just stay at $4 million? At a lower price Cole could be quite the pickup but at $4 million you better take him to a damn thorough doctor.

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Tavares-less suggestion: Go hard for Hossa or Kovalchuk or even Zetterberg. If that doesn’t work, settle for the Sedins and a low risk, high reward guy like un-listed, under the radar Michael Cammalleri.