Guess We Now Know Snow’s Blueprint for 8th

This is a piece that we’ve been dying to write, which is what happens when the “I told you so” stuff comes to life. Let’s take a review of the first day of unrestricted free agency and see what the Islanders situation looks like, with needs and how they were filled. Understand that this is NOT a cut and paste from last offseason regarding how needs went unfulfilled:

Needs How it was filled:
First line wing Pierre Marc Bouchard
Second Line Center Peter Regin
Top two defenseman Travis Hamonic
Goaltender Egveny Nabokov


Ah, the Garth Snow playoff formula. Replace parts with similar parts, and not upgrades. After all, making the playoffs as an 8th seed, then going on a tear and winning the cup was so exciting last ye…wait, that didn’t happen? They got dropped in the first round?? But why are fans celebrating so hard over this improvement?

Could it be that Snow has shown us all he is capable of, by replacing Aucoins’ with Regins’? Is this the plan that the rebuild is following- the “Just Good Enough” model?

The Date Changes, but the theme Remains the Same

The Date Changes, but the theme Remains the Same

Please toss the Wang will not allow him to spend out the window.  You know who restricted spending?  Gluckstern and Milstein.  The Islanders took buses and trains instead of planes, and when they did fly they flew coach.  Charles Wang approves spending, just look at Michael Grabner, Kyle Okposo, John Tavares, Travis Hamoic, Evgeny Nabokov, Frans Nielsen, Matt Moulson, Mark Streit, Lubomir Visnovsky, Matt Martin, Rick DiPietro, soon to be Cal Clutterbuck and unfortunately Josh Bailey.  Until it is proven that Garth Snow is not reason, which will be when he says “We were not in (insert player name) because we do not have the resources for said player” then he will be held accountable.  He continues to say he has no restrictions so he will be held to such comments. Oh and by the way, somehow New Jersey who had a number one goalies and is BANKRUPT managed to add another one.  And though they completely over paid for an overrated player in Ryan Clowe, they are BANKRUPT and still made moves. Come to think of it, the NHL pays the Phoenix Coyote’s salaries, and last year they retained Shane Doan and this year added Mike Ribiero to their payroll, but we digress. Back to the point at hand.

We’ll start here: let us analyze the imports. Pierre Marc Bouchard is not an awful acquisition. However, he is was brought in to be the third reclamation project for John Tavares in three years. That is a big problem. If we were Tavares, we would fire our agent for not getting a clause in the most recent contract taking 10% of new contract earnings every time a guy uses him to fatten up their own stats and grab a free agent deal elsewhere. That would be $400,000 annually from PA Parenteau alone! Bouchard is a good offensive player, and maybe even a marginal upgrade to Brad Boyes. Concussion issues certainly have hindered his last two full seasons. 140 games over the last 4 seasons does give us a case of the DiPietros. But bigger picture: PA, Boyes, Bouchard…spinning wheels. Bouchard obtains the offensive zone better than Boyes, but about as well as Parenteau. He scores goals as well as Boyes, but not Parenteau. He passes as well as Boyes, but not Parenteau. He’s more defensively responsible than both players, but not by much. That Bobby Ryan was had for almost nothing makes this deal look bad, but more on that later.


The Peter Regin signing is flat out awful. We have no idea what Snow was thinking. Some pundits say that Snow wants competition at training camp. If you can’t raise your competitive level around John Tavares and Casey Cizikas, you have issues. And if you’re claiming that the purpose of camp is to compete for jobs, THE YOU CAN NOT OFFER A GUARANTEED SPOT TWO SEASONS FROM NOW FOR KIRIL PETROV. Snow could do that, however, because Bouchard is on a one year deal, and JT91 will need a winger next season. If there is an open spot, lets consider some names that the Islanders should have thought of before they signed the second coming of Marty Reasoner: Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson. However, since Snow hates to put his draft picks into pressure situations like leading a scoring line behind Tavares despite being a lottery pick, those weren’t options. The main problem here is getting a player who has basically done nothing over the past three seasons.  The problem isn’t getting said player only because he was friends with Super Frans Nielsen.  The problem is that you targeted this guy on day one.  Typical Snow, who seems like he learned his negotiating skills from Mike Milbury. Regin has 19 NHL goals since 2008. Reasoner-ific!


Us, too

Us, too

For the savvy reader- you may have noticed that the Islanders used two roster players from last season to fill holes this season. To us, this is both disappointing and dismaying. First off, bringing back Nabokov after his playoff implosion is ponderous. That they gave him a raise is Garth Snow’s newest form of salary cap circumvention. Over $3 million for a goalie that was tired after playing 48 out of 54 games without improving the defense in front of him is going to get you a tired goalie 54 games into the season…except this season is back to an 82 game schedule. As Scooby Doo would say, Ruh Roh!


Boff Goff Thinks I'm a UFA in 2, But It's Really a 9

Boff Goff Thinks I’m a UFA in 2, But It’s Really a 9

The Travis Hamonic signing is also a bit mystifying, in a few ways. We like Hammer, disastrous first half of a shortened season aside. But Hammer was walking into his second professional contract. A 3 year deal still kept his as a 25 year old RFA when it expires. And surely a 3 year RFA deal would have been under the $3.85 million annually Travis would be receiving. Also, at the end of the three year deal, you can sign Hamonic for another 8 years, thus securing 11 years of his future. Sure, the rate may be different three years from now, but you can probably pull off 3 years for $6 million, saving nearly $6 million up front under a lower cap. And you may have to pay $4.5 million a year after, but that $6 up front works out so that you subsidize almost all of the difference in terms, while securing 11 years of a 22 year old player, roughly the entire prime of his career. With the deal that Snow actually made, Hahahamonic can walk away at 29 years old and sell himself to anyone. All in all locking up Hamonic is positive but it could also hinder future moves.  We fear that $3.85 million for what could be  our #1 defenseman (who the rest of the league accurately calls a #3) will end up becoming a benchmark that is already being bandied about- the Tavares rule.


Not familiar with the Tavares rule? It’s an Islander fan’s bible. How can you pay FillInTheNameOfAnyUFAorRFA more than John Tavares? Evander Kane? Pfft not worth John Tavares, so he can’t be paid more. Bobby Ryan? Daniel Alfredsson? Ryan Getzlaf? Nope, nope, nope, nope. Alexander Ovechkin? Nope. Cindy Crosby? Nope. According to Islanders fans, there is no player on the planet worth more than John Tavares, thus we can bring in no one who could make more, as such would offend the nearly point a game player.


He said I have to do it by myself and laughed. Guess I better laugh at the joke too!

He said I have to do it by myself and laughed. Guess I better laugh at the joke too!

Here’s an example- Mike Ribiero was arguably the best center available in the free agent market. He signed a 4 year deal averaging $5.5 million a year. JT style money. Averaged more points per game than JT91 did last year; granted mainly racked up assists passing to Alexander Ovechkin. Yet Islander fans justify not being involved in a guy who admittedly wanted to stay in Washington (read East coast per travel schedules) because the money is too close to JT and he’s a second line player. By this logic, Pittsburgh needs to jettison Evgeny Malkin because he is paid like Crosby but plays on the second line.  Mike Ribiero would have filled a spot that has been empty for three seasons, A SECOND LINE CENTER.

In short, we fear that the Tavares rule will become the Hamonic rule on defense, effectively ending any attempt to improve the defense by spending money on a player better than Matt Carkner. After all, how can you justify paying someone more than a guy who averages 28 points a season and is just about even for his career? Wait, did you say Lubomir Visnovsky makes more? Hmm…what was his raise again? Oh right, his cap hit is down about a million bucks from his last contract, and his pay this season is $3.5 million, which is less than $3,850,000. Guess there’s a precedent for what we pay a top flight offensive defenseman- call it the Streit effect.

Now, of course free agency isn’t over, but Islander fans know that when they read comments like “Islanders expected more compliance buyouts” then we know it’s over. Also, what did they do with the present crop of compliance buyouts? Oh, right- strike out completely. Then there was the “Islanders expected more cap relief deals” on the heels of their compelling offer of Rick DiPietro for Roberto Luongo. That Snow felt ANYONE would take a DP just to buy him out of a contract given to DP by Snow shows that Garth Snow is unqualified to be a general manager in a major sports league. Remember last draft day when he offered his whole draft for defenseman Ryan Murray? Did you hear that rumor float around when Seth Jones wasn’t chosen first or second? Nope. Want to know why? Bad judge of talent. It’s why Ryan Strome will join Thomas Hickey as the only other lottery pick taken since the last lockout who will not have played in the NHL within two years of their draft date. Strome may be awesome in the NHL or he may be a bust. By this point he should be in Uniondale to find out. If you’re touting a perpetual rebuild, you owe as much to the fans.

In closing, here’s a prediction- based on the UFA “moves,” draft day lack of effort, and confusing the RFA and UFA signing periods, as well as the improvement of teams like Ottawa, Detroit, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Boston, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Montreal, and the stagnation of teams that finished ahead of us like New York and Washington, the Islanders are not making the playoffs. They barely held on to the 8th seed in a shortened season, so we missed the annual 15 game swoon that they always seem to find. This year won’t be so lucky.


Coming to an arena near you in December 2013...

Coming to an arena near you in December 2013…

Also, do you want this team to make the playoffs as an 8th seed just to get their doors blown off by a #1 again? If case you forgot, the first round didn’t go so well for the Islanders last season. Sure they won two games, and even got hosed by a phantom overtime trip in game three, but they also were shut out twice, had a completely ineffective power play, ruined a hard fought home ice advantage in one game, and routinely gave up 5 goals. Seven years into Snow’s plan of building a team that won’t get beat in the first round of the playoffs culminated with a team that got beat in the first round of the playoffs. He followed that with trading a lottery pick who should have been ready for prime time top line play. As long as Garth Snow is making personnel decisions, instead of someone who has experience actually touching the Stanley Cup as a player or front office guy, all you can expect from the Garth Snow formula is more of the same.

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About the Author: We are two long time hockey fans who certainly have our own opinions and points of view. Feel free to share yours. Follow on twitter @joshbarely

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  1. jethro09 says:

    You guys are incredibly pessimistic and perpetually negative. There’s a fine line between drinking Kool-Aid and being objective. Free agency is 72 hrs old. Training camp doesn’t start for 8 weeks. There is plenty of time to add more pieces. And if they don’t, they don’t. Adding overpriced UFA’s does not guarantee improvement in the standings.

    You’re against the Nabokov signing, but offer no alternatives. Who did you want? Bryzgalov? How about Emery? Not too many attractive UFA options in goal and that was before Smith re-signed in PHX. Wanted to trade for a goalie? Well, Schneider was had for a top ten pick and LA didn’t want Niño in a package for Bernier. Still, I guess you could trade for Ryan Miller if you want to trade valuable prospects for a 33 year old goaltender with one year left on his deal and who has openly said he wants to play out west, or you could trade for Luongo if you want another awful contract and a goalie signed till he’s 43. Nabokov was the best available and let’s not forget that his play had a great deal to do with the isles even making the playoffs. Yes, he tired out. But if Cappy would have played a back up a few times, maybe Nabby doesn’t tire out.

    Bouchard was a decent signing. Would I have liked to see a trade for Ryan? Sure. But to say Ottawa’s package was crap is inaccurate. The isles equivalent package for Ruan would have been a #1, strome and Nielsen at least. Too much for my taste. I agree on Regin, he was a stupid signing. But you can’t honestly believe the isles are going to slot Regin in at 2nd line center after posting a whopping 3 assists and zero goals last year. He was signed for depth. Nothing more, nothing less.

    And the Hamonic deal was great. Why only sign this guy for three years? So you can go through this process again with your team’s best d-man in 3 summers? The length and dollars were great for a player that’s as talented and improving as Hammer is.

    You may not think money is an issue, but clearly it is. They spend when they have to on the right guys: home grown core players. They don’t throw stupid $$ at other teams UFA’s (see Clowe,Ryan: Weiss, Stephen; Clarkson, David; bozak, Tyler). Think any of those guys were worth that money? No way. So if you’re going to spend money, it might as well be on core guys you’re building around.

    • MattandDan says:


      You make a lot of great points, but gloss over a few that need exploration. Nabby didn’t want to come here, now we cant get rid of him. Viz was the same. A Miller trade would be great for a few reasons- if a Schneider in his prime went for a single first round draft pick, what do you think the pricetag on miller is? A second rounder? Especially considering Miller’s UFA status approaching? A prospect? We have room for 12 forwards, 6 D ,2 G, and thats that. Isles can’t promote everyone, they need to make moves, and use assets better than the way they pissed away Nino.

      Ryan went for an AHL top 10 scorer, a 20 G scorer and a mid first. Snow couldn’t offer Nelson, a first, and Bailey? We already have Neilsen as a third line center so Nelson is redundant, Bailey works cheap, and we’ll have a mid first rounder if we’re lucky next year.

      We like hammer long term, but they mishandled his RFA period. His next contract, he’s a UFA. If you like building from within, you’d like keeping prospects as long as you can. Snow gave away 3 years, plain and simple, despite going through a process- a process where Isles have all the leverage.

      Why not Brunner? Similar numbers to Bouchard, not a similar injury history.

      Bottom line, if they want the playoffs again, the better hope Strome is the real deal, or this may be the worst rebuild ever. Even awful Yzerman made it deep in the playoffs once, and he’s getting fired this year if Tampa misses the playoffs again.

      • Jethro09 says:

        With respect to Miller, there is no way Buffalo is trading Ryan Miller for a second round pick. If the price tag was that low, he’d already have been moved. We can assume from the fact that Buffalo has openly been shopping Miller and the fact that he’s still in Buffalo after the draft and the start of free agency that the price tag is high, at least a first rounder and a top prospect (Strome-esque).

        As for Ryan, I don’t know if Bailey, Nelson and a first gets it done. You said it yourself in response to another post, Josh Bailey will never amount to a $3M per year talent. So why would Anaheim want a package that includes him? It all comes down to semantics, and Anaheim could just simply feel that the package Ottawa put out there was the best one for Anaheim.

        I still don’t get your argument against a 7 year deal for Hamonic. I don’t see how Snow gave away 3 years. None of us know what was going on in that room during negotiations. Hammer’s agent may not have had any interest in a 3 year deal. Maybe he wanted 1 year or long term? The bottom line is that the team is obviously in a perilous situation if Hamonic gets to UFA status. Defensemen are being paid exorbidant amounts of money nowadays and once Hammer hits UFA status he’s going to be hard to re-sign. Holding off Hammer’s UFA status for an extra three years at a reasonable figure is good business.

        I know some people wanted the flash, the glitz, the big names. But I don’t think adding Ryan Miller and Bobby Ryan at the price of gutting your organization of picks and top tier propects for those two guys was worth it. You add a Ryan or a Miller to a contender, a team that is already on the cusp of a championship. Not to a team still building and filling out a roster and striving to be a contender.

  2. KO21 says:

    Wang admitted that the organizations is on a strict budget and he cant spend as much as bigger market teams. He said that if there is a deal that makes sense and will make his team better he will consider it. But make no mistake the NY Isles are on austerity. The Hammer signing was phenomenal and Nabby was not.

  3. Susannah says:

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  4. dack1972 says:

    Thank you jethro09!!!!! Took the words out of my mouth.Snow is one the few GM’s that is building a team properly. Other than Mike Ribiero (which i’m sure most teams were going after) what other free agent would you suggest that Snow should have pursued…Briere (35), Lecavalier(way past his prime), Clarkson gets paid almost as much as JT (think about that for a second, Horton 7 year deal with shoulder and concussion issues….unbelievable. Philly, Rangers, leafs list goes on constantly attempt to bandage their teams out of desperation. When the Islanders come together it will be special.. which I believe is close. So tell me what top winger is available to play on a line with JT that won’t cost the future? There’s 28 other teams looking for a top winger. That was a horrible post!!!!!

    • MattandDan says:

      Brunner. Made $1m last year, put up points that extrapolate to 20g 30a over a full season. Mid 20′s. $3m likely gets it done.

      Basically $3m for what Josh Bailey was supposed to but will never be.