Apr 9, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning centerVincent Lecavalier
(4) is congratulated by teammates after he scored a goal against the Ottawa Senators during the second period at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Astoria, NY – The big NHL-related news yesterday morning was the Tampa Bay Lightning’s announcement that the organization would buy out captain and lifelong Lightning centerman Vincent Lecavalier, spending over $32 million to do so.
Which is all well and good, but hardly impacts the New York Islanders, which—if you’re reading this piece—is probably your main concern.
True, Isles GM Garth Snow is likely putting in phone calls to Lecavalier’s agent, but it’s widely assumed that the asking price once the All-Star center hits the open market will be too rich for Snow’s blood.
Nonetheless, speculation that Lecavalier could join the Islanders as a free agent is a necessary product of the NHL offseason, especially considering the state of the franchise. The team has the salary cap room to make offers to free agent players—of which there will be more after the Draft concludes—and for the first time in recent memory, there’s no real reason for a player to turn down an offer to come to Long Island.
Uniondale, NY is home to a young, talented club with the potential to make the postseason again in 2013-14, and contend for the Stanley Cup in the years thereafter.
We’re a long ways from the era of Ryan Smyth-type rentals and players like Christian Ehrhoff and Evgeni Nabokov refusing to join the Islanders. (Although, the Nabokov situation ended up working out pretty well for both player and team.)
The fact that Isles fans are having the types of conversations normally reserved for Cup-contending teams is a good sign for the future. Islanders supporters would do well to keep things in perspective as the free agency period approaches.
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Lecavalier on Long Island is certainly an interesting thought, but the assumed cost of obtaining the 33-year-old’s services will likely prevent it from happening. On the bright side, the Islanders are very deep at the center position; names like John Tavares, Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson, Casey Cizikas and Frans Nielsen are all on the organizational depth chart somewhere.
Another potential Isles free agent target could be Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference, whom the Bruins have already told they will not re-sign this offseason. Ference would provide a veteran presence to a relatively young Islanders blue line; I wouldn’t be surprised to see Snow look into acquiring the D-man to add experience to the roster.
ESPN’s E:60 segment on Isles defenseman Travis Hamonic is scheduled for this fall, meaning that Islanders fans will have the opportunity to see their team receive national attention for the what they hope will be the first of many times in the future. Hamonic had been shooting the documentary over the past few weeks, showing journalist Jeremy Schapp where he grew up and learned to play hockey. Stay tuned for more updates.
With the 2013 NHL Entry Draft on the horizon, most NHL fans have their attention fully fixed on their respective team’s offseason plans. For the Islanders, many of those plans are shrouded in secrecy, as is Snow’s style. However, that doesn’t mean the fan base can’t look forward to a potential flurry of activity in the hours leading up to Draft day.
Last night’s NBA Draft had a tangential effect on the NHL. More specifically, it brought out interesting “what if” scenarios like the one above. Even though the Islanders aren’t scheduled to move to Brooklyn until the 2015-16 NHL season, there have been rumors that team owner Charles Wang would make the move earlier if he could get out of his current lease at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Take your pick, Isles fans: which franchise wins a playoff series first? My money’s on the Islanders, even if they won’t arrive at Barclays Center for a couple of years, at least.
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.