So, you’re sitting there catching up on the day’s news, and you keep hearing all about the Eastern and Western Conference Finals. Kinda leaves you longing for some Blue & Orange hockey doesn’t it? Well let’s talk about it.We know the Isles are in need of a goalie. Evgeni Nabokov did a great job for us during the regular season. During the playoffs? Well, let’s just say he did a great job for us during the regular season. We know the options, we know what we have.
Time for What If #1:
That, my loyal readers, is Henrik Lundqvist. Isn’t the internet amazing? Here’s how this would work. Henrik decides that he is not ready to talk contract with the Rangers during the season. He goes out, has another stellar season, and the Rangers fail to score in front of him, as usual. While the Isles, behind Nabokov for one last year, get to the Conference Finals and become the talk of the league, the team they beat in Round 2, the Rangers are frustrated that coach Mark Messier could not get them further. Henrik decides that perhaps it’s time to test the waters, as he would then be an unrestricted free agent. Garth Snow comes calling and says “how would you like to be the goalie for the Islanders as we transition to Brooklyn?” Garth offers him a 5 year/$40M deal and Henrik cannot say no. He leaves the Rangers for the Isles and lifts the Cup with the Isles in 2015.
Ok, I know. You are saying very amusing Eric, but it will never happen. Ok, probably not. He will likely re-sign with the Rangers and live out his sentence in Manhattan.
So, no Henrik Lundqvist. Now what?Ah, glad you asked.
It’s time for What If #2:
That would be Sergei Bobrovsky, soon to be Vezina Trophy winner. He is making a laughable $900,000 this year. He is a Restricted Free Agent after the Entry Draft. What are the chances he comes to the Island? Low. Very very low. But, let’s start up the What If machine again. Here’s how this works:
The NHL Entry Draft comes and goes and the Blue Jackets are still negotiating with “Bob”. Garth “2014 GM of the Year” Snow swoops in and offers RFA Bobrovsky a 7 year/ $42M contract. It’s front loaded, because the Isles have the room now. The Blue Jackets have room as well, but decide that with $18M coming to him in the first 2 years, the Jackets decide it’s too rich for their blood and they don’t match it. The Isles are forced to give up a 1st, 2nd and 3rd round pick, but it doesn’t matter. They have their goalie, and team, of the future.
Ok stop laughing. The more I wrote, the more ridiculous it sounded. But, hey, you never know.
Fine. So we won’t have Bob and we won’t have Lundqvist. Since this is my fantasy world, I will continue. My final choice between the pipes for the Isles next year is one that is still playing. No, not Marc-Andre Fleury. I am talking about this guy:
No, that’s not Tim Thomas. That’s Tuukka Rask. Our friend Tuukka, who owns a GAA in this year’s playoffs of 1.99, is also a Restricted Free Agent after the NHL Draft. Now, I know that the Isles are rumored to be close to re-signing Nabby to a 1-year contract, but, let’s take a look at him further. What if?
Even though Tuukka let up a bad goal against the Rangers, when he fell on his Rask and let the puck slide in behind him, he is a fantastic goaltender. He was selected way back in the 2005 draft by the Maple Leafs with the 21st overall pick. Remember who the Isles selected? How can you forget the immortal Ryan O’Marra?! Rask was eventually traded to the Bruins for Andrew Raycroft. We see how well that one worked out.
It’s time for my final What If.
What if #3:
Tuukka finishes the playoffs with the Bruins and hoists the Stanley Cup. He is 26, and is expecting a big raise from his $1.5M salary. Here is where this gets interesting. Unlike Columbus who has plenty of cap space. Boston does not. They are going to look drastically different next year. So, Garth decides to open the pocketbook a bit. He offers Rask a 7 year deal worth $47.48M. That is a deal worth $6.782 M a season. $6,728,781 a year is the max amount you can offer an RFA if you only want to give up a 1st, 2nd, 3rd round pick. Isles would front load the deal, really handicapping the Bruins ability to match. If they do in fact match it, they would really be hurt by it.
Tuukka accepts the deal, comes to the Isles and wins 4 more cups in his 7 years. He re-signs at 33 for 5 more years and retires an Islander, and an all-time great.
Ok I have taken off my rose colored glasses now and put them back in their case. In reality, the Isles will likely re-sign Evgeni Nabokov for one more year, and then we will see how it goes in 2015. Do they draft a goalie? Do any of the trio of young goalies stand out and surprise us? We will soon find out.
Until then, dream away Isles fans, dream away.