Astoria, NY – The New York Islanders have announced that goaltender Kevin Poulin has accepted the team’s qualifying offer: a one-year, two-way contract reportedly worth $577,500. The deal ensures that the 23-year-old restricted free agent will be on the Isles’ roster through the upcoming 2013-14 NHL season.
Poulin had just completed his entry-level contract—three years, $2.675 million—while posting a 1-3-0 record with a 3.03 GAA and .893 SV% in five regular-season games played for the Islanders last year.
He also posted a 1.14 GAA and .933 SV% in two appearances in relief of Evgeni Nabokov during the team’s first-round playoff series loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The “two-way” aspect of Poulin’s contract gives him motivation to remain with the big club—as his salary is dependent on the league in which he plays his games next season—and it leaves the door open for GM Garth Snow to continue shopping for another goaltender for the big club.
However unlikely a trade made be, it Snow is able to bring in a veteran netminder to split time with Nabokov, he’ll be able to send Poulin down to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers without having to pay him an NHL salary. Poulin’s deal is another example of Snow’s business savvy, since it’s a cost-effective signing.
Rumors have been floating around that Snow would like to make a move for St. Louis Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak; the Poulin contract insinuates that there’s room on the roster for another NHL goalie. Could it be Halak? Only Snow knows the answer to that question.
At the moment, the Islanders are prepared to begin the 2013-14 season with the goaltending tandem of Nabokov and Poulin, although the exact breakdown of each player’s time between the pipes is a subject of debate.
It’s been well documented the Nabokov isn’t able to carry the load as a full-time starter anymore, meaning he and Poulin would likely split time 50-50, at most. Unless Snow can bring in an established starter, the Isles will have to rely on the combination of Nabokov’s experience and Poulin’s youth.
Snow has once again plugged a gap in the Islanders’ roster, continuing his trend of building for the future. With a potential franchise netminder in Anders Nilsson waiting in the wings at Bridgeport, Snow realized there’s no reason to lock Poulin in on a multi-year deal.
Poulin’s relatively inconsistent performance in 21 career games with the Isles wasn’t necessarily worthy of anything more than a “prove it” contract anyways.
Poulin will have his work cut out for him this season, especially with Nilsson breathing down his neck for the starting job in a year or two. Signing a one-year deal was the first step towards proving his worth on an NHL roster.