The Garth Snow era is over for the New York Islanders. For 12 years he sat at the helm. Twelve years of mistakes. Here are his top five.
The New York Islanders are finally free of Garth Snow. Today the team announced that both he and Head Coach Doug Weight have been relieved of their duties by President of Hockey Operations Lou Lamoriello.
Lou justified the moves as the Islanders needing a "culture change". Amen. Did they ever need one. For 12 years Garth Snow sat as the General Manager, President of Hockey Operations and Alternate Governor for the New York Islanders.
For 12 years Garth Snow was the one to make any and all decisions for the New York Islanders. Trades, free agency, and drafts. Garth Snow steered this franchise for 12 years. His crowning achievement was winning a single playoff series. Just one. In 12 years.
He had a few bright spots. Namely trading Griffin Reinhart to the Edmonton Oilers. A trade that resulted in the Islanders picking Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier in the 2015 NHL draft. But Garth also had a long list of blunders to his name.
Sure, every GM makes a mistake. But Garth Snow didn't just have the one bad contract. Or the one bad trade on his GM resume. He had poor free agency periods, back-to-back poor draft picks, or smug decisions that backfired spectacularly.
Narrowing it down to five wasn't easy. But the Eyes on Isles staff figured this was Garth Snow's top five blunders as General Manager of the New York Islanders.
If we missed one, add it in the comments.
At the end of the Islanders 2015 training camp, starting goalie Jaroslav Halak sustained an injury. So when the Los Angeles Kings waived goalie Jean-Francois Berube, the Islanders pounced and claimed him.
Thomas Greiss, who was only acquired three months earlier in free agency would start. And Jean-Francois Berube would be the backup.
Halak missed a total of four games at the start of the 2015-16 NHL season. But instead of sending Jean-Francois Berube to waivers in order to play in the AHL, the Islanders just kept him on the active roster.
For two seasons. For two full seasons, the New York Islanders had three goalies on the active roster. For some reason, Garth Snow didn't want to waive Berube.
Over his two seasons with the New York Islanders, Berube held a 3.11GAA and .900SV%. He wasn't good enough to keep on the roster.
The impact of carrying a third goalie negatively affected the other goalies on the Islanders roster. Specifically, Jaroslav Halak. Halak's displeasure with the situation was highlighted with two tweets from his agent Allan Walsh at the start of the 2016-17 season.
Starting goalie for NY Islanders last game had only 1 quality practice in last 5 days before Penguins game. Going on 2 years of this now.
— Allan Walsh (@walsha) October 29, 2016
Halak was so bad that season that by the end of the calendar year he was waived and spent close to three months playing in the AHL. In the meantime, Thomas Greiss carried the Islanders workload in nets. Berube couldn't be relied upon to backup the German keeper.
Think about that. Berube wasn't good enough to play, but he couldn't be waived.
Eventually, the Islanders would lose Berube in the Vegas expansion draft. For nothing. Was it worth it? Hardly.
Rick DiPietro Contract
It's routinely featured as the worst contract ever in the NHL. And it's impossible to argue with that.
On September 6th, 2006, just two months on the job, New York Islanders General Manager Garth Snow signed Rick DiPietro to a 15 year $67.5 million contract. Fifteen years. Rick was 13 days shy of his 25th birthday and the Islanders wanted to pay him an average $4.5 million until 2020-21.
That's right. Rick DiPietro would, technically, still be under contract with the New York Islanders for another two seasons.
Was DiPietro worth that kind of money? He was the first overall pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. The second goalie to ever be selected first overall. But DiPietro's stats weren't as flattering as his draft status.
In 2005-06, the former first overall pick held a 3.02 GAA and .900SV%. The NHL average that season was 2.92 GAA and .902SV%. At best, Rick DiPietro was an average goalie in the NHL. But yet, the Islanders gave him what was then the longest contract in NHL history.
Two seasons later injuries claimed Rick DiPietro's career. From 2008 to 2013 he played a total of 50 NHL games. He was averaging 45 games per season since being drafted. And then in 2013, the New York Islanders bought out DiPietro's contract.
The Islanders would have to pay DiPietro $1.5 million per year for the next 16 years. That's a $1.5 million payout until 2029. Eleven years from now.
Fourth Line Mega Deals
Garth Snow's contractual blunders don't end with Rick DiPietro. On June 2nd, 2016 he signed Casey Cizikas to a five year $16.75 million deal ($3.35 million AAV). Six months later he'd do it again, this time signing Cal Clutterbuck to a five year $17.5 million deal ($3.5 million AAV).
Both Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck are fourth line players. They're good fourth line players. But they aren't worth over three million a year for five years good. And much like Rick DiPietro they weren't, and haven't been worth the money.
Cizikas was coming off a career-high 29 point season when he negotiated his deal, but his production has decreased since. Even his effectiveness on the penalty kill has plummeted. The same goes for Clutterbuck. Cal is far removed from that 19 goal 2010-11 season.
The fourth line of a hockey team doesn't generally make big money. They typically represent an expendable and replaceable portion of the roster. Fourth line players aren't supposed to make big money.
With a hard salary cap, a team is supposed to maximize its assets in order to free up its financial resources for the premier players. Paying close to 10 percent of the team's salary cap on two fourth line players this season isn't how to maximize financial resources.
Garth was trying to think outside of the box with these contracts. Sometimes an idea is outside of the box for a reason. Cause it isn't a good one.
2016 Free Agency
The 2016 NHL free agency was doubly bad for the New York Islanders. Not only did three fan favorites leave the team, but they brought in a player on a big money deal that the Islanders aren't going to get out from for some time.
In July 2016, Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, and Matt Martin were all out of contracts and headed towards free agency.
After a $2.8 million deal expired with the Islanders Okposo was due a big raise. The Islanders didn't want to give it to him. The Buffalo Sabres gave him $42 million over seven years ($6 million AAV). Okposo is producing less but is still a 45 point player.
Nielsen after debating an offer from the Islanders jumped to the Detroit Red Wings for what would amount to be less than the Islanders were offering him.
Losing a top line winger and their second line center left a huge hole to fill. Garth would replace Okposo with Andrew Ladd in the very same free agency window on a seven-year $38.5 million deal ($5.5 million AAV). Or maybe P.A. Parenteau was supposed to replace Okposo?
Parenteau was acquired in free agency in July but was waived come October in favor of rookies Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier.
Nielsen wouldn't be replaced. Maybe Mathew Barzal was supposed to be the Nielsen replacement, but after playing the puck while standing in the penalty box on only his second NHL game Barzal was sent back to the WHL. Leaving the Islanders without a recognized second line center to play behind Tavares.
Andrew Ladd was the big name free agent they acquired. He was supposed to make up for the loss of Okposo and his 60 points. Ladd was and still is a disappointment. In his first season, he scored 31 points and followed that up with 29 this season.
Remember, Andrew Ladd was making as much as John Tavares. In a single day, Garth Snow set the Islanders back years.
2010 to 2014 NHL Entry Draft Picks
For four out of five seasons after drafting John Tavares first overall in 2009, the New York Islanders had a pick in the top five of the NHL Entry Draft. By 2018 not a single one is on the roster.
In 2010 the Islanders selected Nino Niederreiter fourth overall. Within a few years, the Swiss player had enough with the Islanders and requested a trade. It's hard to blame him. Nino was either buried in the AHL or playing on the fourth line. The Isles would get Cal Clutterbuck and a pick for what would be a 57 point player for the Wild.
In 2011 the Isles picked fifth and took Ryan Strome. Strome would have a 50 point season with the Isles but then quickly fall off. Eventually, the Islanders were able to make a deal with the Oilers to acquire Jordan Eberle for Strome. They got lucky.
Three years out from acquiring Tavares the Islanders were still picking in the top five. In 2012 they took defenseman Griffin Reinhart. Reinhart still hasn't made the NHL and is with his third team, the Vegas Golden Knights. At least the Isles were able to get Barzal and Beauvillier. But the point here is that the picks didn't work out.
Skip 2013 where the Isles take Ryan Pulock at number 15, and in 2014 the New York Islanders are back in the top five. This time they take Michael Dal Colle with the fifth overall pick. Dal Colle was a fantastic scorer in junior, but he just hasn't put it together to make the NHL.
These picks should have formed the core of the New York Islanders along with John Tavares. Not a single one is on the roster. Sure Garth was able to salvage two of them, but the fact still remains that Garth made poor drafting decisions.