A lot of Isles fans are praising our first two picks in this years’ draft. It is always fun to get excited about something new, and obviously if you’re a fan of this team you have to take what you can get. However we are here, as always, to temper the celebration. The Islanders need help NOW, not 4 years from now. Ryan Strome was left out of this lineup for too long. So long that he has the least amount of games played from the top ten of the 2011 entry draft. Yes, that said 2011. He’s already 162 games and one playoff series played behind Gabriel Landeskog!
It doesn’t stop there. Griffin Reinhart was left in juniors with nothing more to prove while this defense saw Radek Martinek lace up for 13 games. Nino Niederreiter was ruined by the coaching here as Garth Snow used his guaranteed unobtainable bonuses to swindle the salary cap. Do you really think that any of these newly drafted players under the same stewardship will be any different? Also, wasn’t Nino drafted 5 overall, and Isles fans drooled over how awesome he’d look next to Tavares? Where was Michael Dal Colle in the draft order? Will he be Nino the 2nd?
Also, fans got all worked up as the Snow once again went into his bag of failed tricks and tried the misfit pick again. We’ve seen this playbook before: once with Kirill Petrov, then again with Kirill Kabanov. We said the Petrov would never don an Isles Jersey, and judging by his new KHL contract, it looks like we were right. Kabanov has been exiled to the ECHL. We’re not going to even rehash the Corey Trivino rumors here. And while it’s fun to read Josh Ho-Sang’s quotes, what makes you think he will be any different than the former two? Are we really to believe that Garth “I traded the top forward at the deadline for nothing” outsmarted every other GM mere weeks after being outsmarted by every GM?
The start of free agency can change ones perspective. Everyone knows that Garth Snow will make offers to top free agents and hear the word “No” because Snow will make bad offers to top free agents. He’ll make market value offers to a player who can choose his market. Here’s an analogy: a pretty girl is sitting in a bar. Two guys walk up to her and offer to buy her a drink. One is Brad Pitt. The other is Brad Dalgarno. Who do you think she’s taking the drink from? #IslanderKoolAid will yell “Dalgarno!” because they wish she would, but anyone with any sense knows Brad Pitt is getting an audience. Because one of these guys are relevant, and the other is a former Islander.
What Snow should be doing instead of saying “me too!” when it comes to a contract offer is something along these lines: “Hey, Matt Niskanen. You’re 28. You came off of a career year just in time for free agency. Everyone and their mother is offering you $6 million a year. We offered Andrew MacDonald $4 million just to watch someone else give him $5 million a year. We obviously have no idea what the marketplace for defensemen is, so howabout this- you write the contract, and we’ll sign it.”
Before you panic, the CBA doesn’t allow for DiPietro length deals anymore, or even Shea Weber salaries, so it’s not like you’re going to be handing over $9 million per. But even at $8 million per for 7 years, when your GM has been banking on defensive prospects in the last 3 drafts, having a 27 year old experienced, solid defenseman in your top 4 (on the Islanders, your top 2) can only help this bunch of overmatched coaches develop a young group of defenders as the type of veteran we have been calling for since we’ve been writing this blog. Being $5 million short of the cap floor, it’s not like you wouldn’t have the space. And with the floor increasing next year combined with Yashin’s $2.2 million payment finally coming off of the books, plus the expiration of Carkner, Visnovsky, and Strait’s contracts, $8 million on Niskanen next year still wouldn’t put us at the floor.
What’s more likely to happen? Garth Snow will try to sign a couple stop gap type players- skilled forward Martin Havlat comes to mind. Or maybe “as productive as Josh Bailey” Dany Heatley or recent buyout Brad Richards, although we’d prefer not to pay ex Rangers. Regardless, if these guys can come in for a year or two and keep a spot warm until the kids are ready, fine. If the draftees are as good as some of #IslesKoolAid thinks, then they should be here in a year. Garth has shown interest in Dave Legwand and Brad Richards. By interest one can assume he offered them either one year at their current salary or cut their current salary while still offering one year.
Fans were cheering snow because it has been documented that he has been among the most aggressive during the preliminary free agent period. Most fans fail to realize that being aggressive for the right players and offering fair contracts has not been discussed. Remember, Garth Snow had two months to negotiate with exclusively with Thomas Vanek, and how did that work out? No matter the dollar amount, Snow offered Vanek the exact contract he was coming off of. Not too creative. If he’s already rich, try offering him something new, like winning. With Snow trading for Dan Boyle’s rights, he acknowledged that they needed a defenseman. Boyle promptly said no. #IslesKoolAid defended the trading for exclusive rights by saying that if Snow fails (again) like he did with Christian Ehrhoff, at least he can trade those rights to someone else. Well, he didn’t, so that’s a total fail. Even if Boyle signs in the UFA period, it means no one gave him an offer, and he slinked back to the Isles. And by the way, the last time Snow acknowledged that they needed a defenseman? The backup plan was Brian Rolston. Hello Derek Roy, three years too late!
With all the rumblings, criticism and cheering for drafts and free agency, the truth is, the main problem with this team has been, and will continue to be, the front office. The owner to the GM to the coaching staff is a joke around the league. Understand that Dan Bylsma was fired for finishing first, yet Jack Capuano still has a job. The on- ice development as well as the development of younger players is horrific. Look no further than the decline of Travis Hamonic’s two-way game, the use Nino Niederreiter, the wasting of years of Ryan Strome and Griffin Reinhart, the over use of the fourth line, the horrible special teams, the horrible special teams coaching, and countless other areas that have the Islanders failing to take steps forward in what is no longer a rebuild, but a retread and a mess. Garth Snow wonders out loud why the press shits on him? Because when they’re done they can use his resume for toilet paper. Bottom line, the Islanders can draft whomever you want, but that person won’t be better than John Tavares. And they can hand out backloaded market price contracts to all of the star unrestricted free agents, but no one’s taking hometown discounts before it’s the hometown.
So what does all of this mean? Expect the results for the 2014-2015 Islanders to be more of the same.
P.S. Special thanks to @Spazemunky for rebranding #IslesKoolAid as #SnowBlowers. From now on, that’s what we’re calling them!
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