Astoria, NY – The first free agency disappointment has struck for fans of the New York Islanders, and it technically happened before the start of free agency.
As reported by Newsday’s Arthur Staple, veteran right winger Danny Briere has narrowed the list of teams he’d be willing to play for down to four or five clubs and the Islanders are not one of his final choices.
Although the Isles were originally thought to be among Briere’s potential suitors, it appears that the former Philadelphia Flyers forward has decided not to take his talents to Uniondale, NY for the 2013-14 NHL season.
Briere is not Isles GM Garth Snow’s only free-agent target this offseason, but would have been a good fit on New York’s roster. Fans hoping the prospect of playing alongside perennial Hart Trophy candidate John Tavares would be enough to lure Briere to Long Island were left feeling like it was a typical Islanders-type failure.
Before Isles Nation gets into an uproar, it’s important to note is that Briere may end up signing somewhere for a price higher than the Islanders would be willing to pay, or for more years than the club would be willing to offer. Briere ultimately would have been a stopgap solution on the top line for the Isles, at least until uber-prospect Ryan Strome develops to the point where he can slide in at right wing next to Tavares.
While Briere shunning the Islanders is a blow to the newfound ego Isles fans have been cultivating, it’s not the worst-case scenario for a young team slowly coming into its own.
In the absence of a veteran forward joining the Isles—should Garth opt not to sign one—youth prospects Strome, Brock Nelson and Anders Lee will be given an opportunity to crack the Isles lineup during training camp.
Hardly an end-of-the-world scenario for one of the Eastern Conference’s most exciting teams.
Penguins Don’t Fly: Summer Dream Crushed (EyesOnIsles)
Oft-Injured Goalie Says He’ll Play Again (New York Post)
NHL All Star Teams (Columbus Dispatch)
Pietrangelo, Stewart Still Unsigned With Free Agency Looming (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Chiarelli: “I Feel Confident We Will Get a Deal Done With Rask” (Comcast Sportsnet)
Floating Around The Twitter-Sphere
More DiPietro: “It was a great 13 years… I can’t say how much I appreciate everything Charles (Wang) and the #Isles did for me.”
— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) July 4, 2013
It almost goes without saying at this point, but DiPietro’s attitude in the wake of the compliance buyout exercised by the Islanders has been all class. He’s repeatedly made known his appreciation for team ownership and expressed his thanks for being given the opportunity to play on Long Island. We at EYES—as well as Isles fans everywhere—wish DP the best of luck as he moves on with his career.
Happy 4th of July to all Isles friends! Let´s celebrate it by getting a goalie. #isles
— Jesper M. Sjöberg (@jespersjoberg) July 4, 2013
With the Briere news still fresh in the minds of Islanders fans, attention has shifted to the empty slot in goal on the team’s roster. Snow would do well to bring in a netminder on a one- or two-year deal to bridge the gap between now and 2015, when Anders Nilsson is expected to be NHL-ready.
#isles should take a flyer(pun) on bryzgalov. Then get Khudobin as well.
— Kyle Butler (@ButlerNYI) July 4, 2013
Ilya Bryzgalov and Anton Khudobin certainly are two goaltending options that make sense for the Islanders; each netminder offers something different in terms of upside, and Snow may have his sights set on one or both as a replacement for Evgeni Nabokov to start the 2013-14 season.
The islanders are going to be a tough team to beat this coming year #isles
— Chris Eagles (@eagsman96) July 4, 2013
Short and to-the-point: the Isles are building a franchise that will give the rest of the NHL something to contend with for the foreseeable future. Don’t sleep on the Islanders; their fans sure aren’t.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMERCIA. As always, thanks for reading us at EyesOnIsles. Keep it right here for all of your NHL offseason coverage and up-to-the-minute Islanders news. Be sure to check the menu bar at the top of the page for ways to connect with the EyesOnIsles staff; we’re always happy to talk hockey.