Just last week it looked like one of the two New York Islanders goaltending prospects might be one step closer to hitting North America. And then he went and signed a one-year extension.
New York Islanders draftee Linus Soderstrom had just beaten Henrik Lundqvist‘s regular season goals-against average record in the Swedish Hockey League and was without a contract. Getting him to North America looked like a good idea AND probable.
Then he goes an signs a single year extension with his SHL club HV71. Keeping him in away from an Isles jersey until the 2018-19 season. Coincidentally, the same time Sorokin’s contract is up with CSKA Moscow of the KHL.
So what’s the plan next season then? Just ride Greiss and Halak?
Remember that Jean-Francois Berube will be a free agent by the end of the season. He needed to play a number of games per the NHL CBA for the Isles to retain his restricted free agent status.
And as we all know, that won’t happen. I had hopes that Soderstrom might be able to push for a roster spot as Greiss’ backup. Now the Isles are going to have to look elsewhere for a backup.
Make a Dip In Free Agency
Without Berube and with all likely hood of Halak not ever coming back to play for the Isles, free agency might be the best place for a backup.
The list of serviceable pending UFA’s that will hit the market is nice and deep. Scott Darling being the most attractive option for two reasons.
First and foremost is how frequently the Blackhawks have to liquidate assets at the end of the season. Stanley Cup championship or not. The Hawks are already right up against the cap with five RFA’s up for renewal next season, like Richard Panik.
And secondly, Darling is very much an asset. This season the 28-year-old has put up a 0.933SV% and a 2.08GAA in 28 games played.
A nice two-year $4 million deal might be enough to get him to the team and keep the payroll under control after they inevitably retain some of Halak’s contract in any deal that would have him leave town.
My price is hinged on the sheer number of pending UFA goaltenders this season. That should drive the market down on getting netminders. Which should help the Isles try to secure a capable backup for Greiss in 2017-18.