The warning signs were there even before Ehrhoff’s rights were traded to the Islanders. Then the Capitals re-signed Brooks Laich for a whopping 6-year, $27 million deal. Buffalo got Ehrhoff later for 10 years. 10 years, folks.
Then others resigned before free agency even started. Despite words of being aggressive, many of the those who would have been a top 6 forward or a top 3 defenseman were gone within a mere two to three hour window into free agency. It was then that the Isles seemed to change gears.
Marty Reasoner, a target for their 4th line since the start, ended up their only signing. Though Isles fans have been upset that the Isles are parting ways with Konopka, Reasoner is considered by many who have followed him when he played for the Panthers, Oilers and Thrashers to be a clear upgrade. One or the issues cited with Konopka was a lack of well-roundedness in the two way game. Offensively and defensively, he just did not bring as much to the table as he did with a fist or two, or with faceoffs. Despite being called a leader in the lockerroom, something more glorified in the press and blogs than by the Isles themselves, Reasoner was brought in to improve that as well.
Reasoner is known for being a quintessential team player. Reasoner won Thrashers Players’ Player Award in 2009 – voted by teammate as “best exemplifies what being a team player is all about”. In 2010, Panthers Assistant GM Mike Santos, had this to say when trading for Reasoner in 2010 `We’re looking to put character players around our good young players. Reasoner is a guy with a lot of character .. is a very useful player. He can help our kids grow.”
A little fun fact: Reasoner was traded by St. Louis 10 years ago, on July 1, 2001, to Oilers as part of the package to get their captain Doug Weight.
Some fans and bloggers opinions on twitter to me as Reasoner went to Isles:
@ou812jay8: Reasoner was a fan favorite in ATL. Always hustles, never takes a shift off. Great on the PK. Good teammate. Good signing.
@randomhero79: we loved him on the Oil
@elfo1 (Thrashers blogger Chris Telford) I loved Reasoner, definitely an upgrade for Isles
@LitterBoxCats (SB Nation Panthers blogger Donny Rivette) Great guy; you won’t be disappointed.
So, more than just a scrap from the scrapheap, but a target to be a vet leader, team player, PK guy and 2-way force on the 4th line. Isles made a clear choice here for a character guy. The process to find that is just more than Garth looking at a list of players, but a group process to find the right guy that includes NHL player scout Ken Morrow, the internal staff and even players.
The biggest issue is fan expectations, which were fanned by Garth announcing that he would be as aggressive as last season. Big mistake, Garth. Guess this is what happens when trying to give fans and agents who read it some idea that they are willing to spend the $$$. And they have been.
For a while, he was aggressive, but when only a couple hours in those players landed quickly and at large contracts/years, that was over quick. The Islanders are a young team, and will need to keep the cap clear to hold onto those players as they develop. With a new CBA fight coming around the corner, many feel that there will be a cap size rollback. Those teams smashed to the cap or rapidly inflating it this UFA period with huge multi-year deals will be in a bad place when the cap size reduces.
Garth wanted to be aggressive, not stupid. And despite the majority of fans who are besides them self for the Isles not reeling in big fish, there are some applauding some pause and clear-headedness in what might turn into the worst UFA hangover in recent memory. These deals have been just nuts.
Michael Russo of Minnesota’s Star Tribune said it best:
“Christian Ehrhoff makes $1.3 million more than Sidney Crosby next year. These next labor talks should be a doozy”
TSN’s list (not including Brad Richards 9 year deal, making him the biggest fish)
|Jun 20||Lidstrom, Nicklas||D||Detroit||Detroit||$6.2M||1||$6.2M|
|Jun 23||Markov, Andrei||D||Montreal||Montreal||$17.25M||3||$5.75M|
|Jun 23||Bryzgalov, Ilya||G||Philadelphia||Philadelphia||$51M||9||$5.666666M|
|Jul 1||Wisniewski, James||D||Columbus||Columbus||$33M||6||$5.5M|
|Jun 27||Bieksa, Kevin||D||Vancouver||Vancouver||$23M||5||$4.6M|
|Jul 1||Fleischmann, Tomas||LW||Colorado||Florida||$18M||4||$4.5M|
|Jul 1||Leino, Ville||LW||Philadelphia||Buffalo||$27M||6||$4.5M|
|Jul 1||Cole, Erik||RW||Carolina||Montreal||$18M||4||$4.5M|
|Jun 28||Pitkanen, Joni||D||Carolina||Carolina||$13.5M||3||$4.5M|
|Jun 28||Laich, Brooks||LW||Washington||Washington||$27M||6||$4.5M|
|Jul 1||Jovanovski, Ed||D||Phoenix||Florida||$16.5M||4||$4.125M|
|Jun 30||Ehrhoff, Christian||D||Buffalo||Buffalo||$40M||10||$4M|
|Jun 24||Brewer, Eric||D||Tampa Bay||Tampa Bay||$15.4M||4||$3.85M|
|Jul 1||Ryder, Michael||RW||Boston||Dallas||$7M||2||$3.5M|
|Jul 1||Hamrlik, Roman||D||Montreal||Washington||$7M||2||$3.5M|
|Jul 1||Upshall, Scottie||RW||Columbus||Florida||$14M||4||$3.5M|
|Jun 25||Tanguay, Alex||LW||Calgary||Calgary||$17.5M||5||$3.5M|
|Jul 1||Jagr, Jaromir||RW||Philadelphia||$3.3M||1||$3.3M|
|Jul 1||Hejda, Jan||D||Columbus||Colorado||$13M||4||$3.25M|
|Jun 30||Ericsson, Jonathan||D||Detroit||Detroit||$9.75M||3||$3.25M|
|Jul 1||Ward, Joel||RW||Nashville||Washington||$12M||4||$3M|
So you might ask… Well why didn’t Garth sign someone anyway? Well who on the top 6 of forwards or top 3 dmen were of the character, team player, yet also could displace those already slated on the top 2 lines? Who has any track record more than just one season or some consistency?
Don’t agree? Garth somehow booted it? That they must do something to get to floor.
To those concerned about cap floor, I have said this on twitter several times now…
The Islanders are at 37 mill now, their RFA signings to come and inevitable bottom 6 signing (Marty Reasoner) or two (trade?), you are there. Too much has been made without anyone bothering to count it out. Same thing happened last summer, where they were closer than many MSM, bloggers and fans said.
1. What will those teams do if when next CBA most assuredly has a cap rollback?
2. Name a team who has done better at under the radar pickups like Streit, Moulson, Grabner and Paranteau in last 3 seasons?
So is it such a situation to sit there and panic? The issue is that unless they can get a top guy THEY TARGETED, they will not sit a kid or halt development to the top 3 lines. Comeau…upgradeable. So is Parenteau, who can easily shift to a 3rd line.
But what player was still there is to the Isles template and also willing to play for the Isles (non-contender). For those who shout about Florida and how they can get people to sign, they are apple to oranges. Why? The players who sign to Florida have a year round facility for training/skating year round in South Florida. They also overpaid for what many consider “middling stiffs”. Don’t compare, because I am unconvinced Florida got much better.
If you slate Nino for the 3rd line with Bailey and Comeau (or Hunter), the lines are this…
Moulson – Tavares – Parenteau
Okposo – Nielsen – Grabner
Comeau – Bailey – Niederreiter
Matt Martin – Reasoner – Hunter
Haley – Gillies
To those who bring up Petrov’s situation and the KHL, due to his contract and family situation, he is slated to be here in the 2012-2013 season. 2012-2013 might be the season de Haan sees fulltime and Strome comes up for a look. Kabanov, who signed his entry level will is not ready and requires more junior time (and size). 2012-2013 for him? Possible.
If there is a trade, as Garth implied in an exclusive… to the ISLANDERS own PR staff. Unbelievable, folks. Pretty soon, at this rate, they will write their own blogs or Garth can just do interviews into a mirror*
Anyway… per Garth: They will look to make a trade. As for when… don’t hold your breath. They will wait. After all, their top chip, Nabakov, needs to show stuff during camp.
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* stole the mirror line from twitter from the excellent Kevin Schultz, of BarryMelroseRocks.com, who tweeted it to me
About the Author: B.D. Gallof is a published writer and hockey blogger. He writes about Hockey, NY Islanders & the NY Islanders venue situation for CBS New York. BD has been written up in Sports Illustrated, TSN.ca, the NY Times Slapshots blog, Yahoo's Sports and SportsBusiness Journal. He has been a featured blogger for The Huffington Post, as well as owner, lead writer, and managing editor at HockeyIndependent.com.