Top Shelf – Islanders Daily 7/25/13


May 11, 2013; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders defenseman

Mark Streit

(2) and New York Islanders right wing

Kyle Okposo

(21) take the ice for pre-game warmups before game six of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A few NHL teams made headlines yesterday, although “headlines” is a loose term when it’s being used to describe the types of under-the-radar signings that qualify as news this time of year.

The Vancouver Canucks signed F Jordan Schroeder (9 PTS, 31 GP) to a one-year, $600,000 deal; the Florida Panthers inked F Scott Timmins (0 PTS, 5 GP) to a one-year, two-way contract; and the Toronto Maple Leafs agreed to terms with D Paul Ranger (AHL: 25 PTS, 51 GP) on a one-year deal worth a reported $1 million.

Not exactly earth-shattering reports on the NHL free agency front, but it’s all the news we have to cling to in late July.

The news out of New York Islanders camp—no, not training camp; “camp” is just a figure of speech—is that winger Kyle Okposo has been spending his summer working out with team captain John Tavares.

Maybe that’s what will finally spark Okposo and eliminate his characteristic slow start once the Isles’ regular season begins on Oct. 5. Isles Country is undoubtedly holding its collective breath, hoping that some of Tavares’s skill rubs off on Okposo this offseason.

That’s not to say Okposo isn’t talented.

And after the way he ended the 2013 season, there’s no reason to think he won’t be a beast in October. Okposo was the team’s Energizer Bunny in the playoffs, most notably when he fought Matt Niskanen and scored the game-winning goal in the Isles’ Game 2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Here’s hoping Okposo carries over that momentum into the beginning of this season. (Or that someone conveniently removes October from the calendar in his locker.)

-MW (@MichaelWillhoft)

In Case You Missed It

2014 Sochi Olympics: Will Team Canada Wilt Under the Pressure of a Nation? (EOI)

Pierre-Marc Bouchard: Most Valuable Third-Line Player? (Isles Optimism)

Here’s Your Updated Arbitration List—Only Five Names Left (Pro Hockey Talk)

Top 10 “Can’t-Miss” Games of the 2013-14 Schedule (New York Islanders)

Flames Say Saddledome Will Be Ready for Preseason (Pro Hockey Talk)

Canucks Sign Weise, Schroeder and Sauve (Nucks Misconduct)

State Approves Up to $450M in Bonds for Detroit Arena, Entertainment District (Detroit Free Press)

Two Minutes For Tweeting

This is what the NHL offseason is all about for Islanders fans: getting excited over a documentary chronicling that one time a no-name businessman literally bought the team even though he, you know…didn’t have any money. All jokes aside, I was lucky enough to be in the audience when director Kevin Connolly premiered his film at the Tribeca Film Festival back in April. I can’t recommend it enough, especially if you forgot the sordid details about how one of the NHL’s most storied franchises was allowed to fall into disarray during the mid- to late-nineties. (If nothing else, Isles fans that watch the documentary will marvel at how far the team has come since John Spano’s “ownership” tenure ended.)

I immediately wanted to bid on this—let’s be serious, IT’S BOBBY NYSTROM’S JERSEY FROM THE TONELLI-TO-NYSTROM GAME—until I saw the figure for the opening bid. And even after seeing $16,000 on-screen, I briefly considered robbing a bank. (Which would be a great opening chapter for the book about my life that I’d eventually write in jail.)

And with that, MacDonald-Gate comes to a close. (If it even started.) As has been discussed in this space ad nauseum, the NHL offseason does funny things to a hockey fan’s brain. The minor uproar caused by the picture floating around the interwebs of Andrew MacDonald wearing an alternate captain’s jersey was more the product of boredom than anything else. #IsItOctoberYet #No #StillNo

Hopefully working out with Tavares will give Okposo the boost he needs to avoid yet another slow start to his season. If nothing else, it’ll give Okposo a front-row seat to what one of the world’s best players does to keep himself in top shape over the summer.

I’m only giving Graziano the publicity here because if he’s wrong about his prediction, the world has proof he made it. Of course, we all know this is exactly what the Islanders’ season will turn out like, right? That means prepare yourselves for another postseason, Isles fans. And remember: Graziano said it first. (Also—shameless plug, here—be on the lookout for EOI’s Islanders 2013-14 season preview, scheduled for September.)

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.