Garth Snow and the Isles on the Brink of Greatness
As the Garth Snow front office era embarks on its eighth season heading the New York Islanders, many believe that the rebuilding period is over and the Isles time is now. The last seven years have been tough for Long Island’s team as about the only thing that seemed to be consistent was finishing last in the division and having the lowest payroll in the NHL. Both of these things took a turn for the better last season as Islanders made the playoffs and finished 28th out of 30 teams in payroll.
The payroll increase last season was not dramatic, but it was something. Unfortunately that rise did not last as they have again fallen back to the bottom of the pack and are once again cellar dwellers as far as the payroll is concerned. This necessarily is not a bad thing as Snow’s regime has managed to lock up its young core of players mostly through the 2015-16 season. The two players that are a part of this young core that become unrestricted free agents(UFA’s) at the end of this season are Matt Moulson and Andrew MacDonald, both of whom are poised for career years.(flickr/IslesPunkFan)
Resigning these two long time Islanders will certainly be a huge priority for Garth and his staff over the next calendar year, but it should not be a top priority. The Islanders are starved for a young, top end goalie and a stud defensive defenseman.
Garth Snow is an American born 13 year NHL goaltender, who played for 5 franchises, last of which was the Islanders where he made the quick transition from player to General Manger in one short summer. Garth retired as a player following the 2005-06 season and took over the GM duties in 06-07, an unprecedented move for a team desperate for reform.
The incumbent GM knows that the Islanders are on the rise and with all of the changes on the horizon for the location of the franchise, he knows he must prove his worth over the next year. The goalie situation has been an issue ever since he signed Rick DiPietro to one of the worst contracts in the history of professional sports, $67.5 million over 15 years. DiPietro got ravaged by injuries shortly after signing and never was the same. The Islanders cut their losses on July 1, 2013 by placing DiPietro on unconditional waivers, and in turn bought out the remainder of the former star goalies record contract.
The buyout was just another bold move by the Snow administration, but in order to be successful these are the types of moves that must be done. The front office must continue to show their moxie and make a splash for a top notch goalie.
There have been rumors for over a year now about the Buffalo Sabres long time goaltender Ryan Miller being available in trades. The 33 year old American veteran goalie would be a huge addition to the Isles and is something that Snow and his front office must jump all over. Miller is a UFA following this season and it is known that he does not want to return to Buffalo, so the Islanders can get him on the cheap.
Other than Miller, the Islander can look to the St. Louis Blues and see which one of their 2 stud goalies, Brian Elliot and Jaroslav Halak, they are willing to let go as both are UFA’s at the end of this season as well.
If all of these options fall through and the cross town rivals are stupid enough to not resign their “King” during this season, then the Islanders must make them eat their shoe and offer Henrik Lundqvist a monster deal.
Another must is to sure up the defense with a veteran defensive defenseman. Lubomir Visnovsky is solid veteran presence of the blue line for the Isles currently, but his defense is suspect at best. Two players that are UFA’s next year that have to be appealing to the Islanders are the Penguins’ Brooks Orpik and the Rangers’ Dan Girardi. Snow will not be able to get either of these players during the season unless their respective teams are out of contention, but he must make a move for them next summer.
It is not an anomaly that the recent Stanley Cup victors also happened to be in the top half of the league in payroll. The Islanders have the young core in place, now it is time for the front office to finish the job and wisely invest more money into this payroll. Wisely being the key word.
The job that Snow has done throughout his tenure with the Islanders should be envied throughout the league and by the fans, especially with no previous experience. He was handed the reins to a lowly franchise that the previous general manager and former player, Mike Milbury, practically ran into the ground. Snow has turned the Isles into a solid squad that is on the verge of being a perennial contender. It is now time to finish the job and get out of the league’s salary cap floor and increase the team’s chances of winning it all. (flickr/IslesPunkFan)