Apr 26, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalieEvgeni Nabokov
(20) during the game against the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center. Sabres beat the Islanders 2-1 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Astoria, NY – All’s quiet on the New York Islanders front, as it has been since the team announced that it could not agree to terms on a new contract for team captain Mark Streit. The assumption is that general manager Garth Snow is biding his time, waiting for the NHL Entry Draft before making any more major deals.
Then again, the whispers of a potential trade for Vancouver Canucks goalie—and former Isles first-round draft pick—Roberto Luongo haven’t quite been hushed, meaning Islanders fans could see some fireworks before the June 30 draft date.
The Isles still have the key task of re-signing winger Josh Bailey and defenseman Travis Hamonic, both restricted free agents and essential pieces of the team’s rebuild. Add to Snow’s ‘To-Do’ list the need to get goalies Evgeni Nabokov and Kevin Poulin—also free agents this summer—under contract, and the team will certainly have some paperwork to fill out this offseason.
It might not be the most exciting topic of conversation, but the reality is that the Islanders’ front office has an important job, especially this offseason. The rebuild has finally turned the corner on Long Island, and the responsibility of the team operations department is essential to carrying momentum from the 2012-13 NHL season into next year.
Once Bailey, Hamonic and Poulin are under new contracts, the team has to decide whether to re-up their other free agent players: David Ullstrom, Thomas Hickey, Brad Boyes, Keith Aucoin, Jesse Joensuu, Radek Martinek and Marty Reasoner.
Truth be told, it’s unlikely that many of these players find themselves in an Isles jersey next season, but that’s a good problem for the team to have; a battle for roster spots is proof that the Islanders are no longer content to just fill out a roster sheet with any available names.
Not everyone can make the team. Only the players who best fit the front office’s vision for the future of the franchise will make the cut, a necessary byproduct of doing business at the NHL level for an organization poised to make the leap and become a perennial Stanley Cup contender.
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Floating Around The Twitter-Sphere
NHL history will be on fully display in the Stanley Cup Finals, as the Boston Bruin and Chicago Blackhawks are two “Original Six” teams with rich histories and passionate fan bases. A Boston-Chicago series is the first matchup of the NHL’s “Original Six” teams in the Cup finals since 1979, and it also means that the only such matchup not to have taken place in the finals is the one between the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers.
Andy has a point, here. Any NHL fan trying to place an asterisk next to this year’s Stanley Cup-winning team would be sorely mistaken to do so; both the Bruins and the Hawks have proven themselves to be among the league’s elite, despite having to face a lockout-shortened season like every other team. Besides, when was the last time you heard someone try to discredit the New Jersey Devils for winning the Cup in 1995? Exactly.
This is in reference to Game 6 of the Western Conference finals between the Blackhawks and the Los Angeles Kings, but could accurately be applied to almost any NHL overtime playoff game. If you’re not completely engaged in a game that concludes with a sudden-death period (or two, or three, or four…), then you’re not doing it right.
So this is pretty accurate. The next time someone tells you that there was a “fight” during an NBA game, you have the permission of the Eyes On Isles staff to interrupt them and show them this picture. (Unless they’re referring to the artist-formerly-known-as Ron Artest going into the stands in Detroit, of course. And even then, hockey fights are probably still more intense.)
Last Night In The NHL
There were no NHL games played last night, the first of three consecutive such nights prior to the start of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday, June 12. If you’re already going crazy at the thought of not having hockey for three nights, the summer is going to be terrible—from an NHL fan perspective, that is. If you’re like me, you’re spending the nights without playoff hockey perusing the player contract pages at CapGeek.com and constructing hypothetical roster moves for the Islanders. Because if you’re not creating fictitious salary-cap-compliant offseason moves for your favorite team, then you’re not trying.
So you’ve never been on the ice for a series-clinching celebration? Here’s your chance to live vicariously through the Blackhawks after they eliminated the Kings in Game 5…
As always, thanks for reading us at EyesOnIsles. Keep it right here for all of your NHL playoff coverage and Isles offseason 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.