Everything Happens In Threes: Rhett and others 'Shipping off to Europe'
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I grew up on Long Island and I have been a huge Islanders fan since I was a kid. My whole family are Islanders fans and I have been going to games since I could remember. I just graduated from Southern Connecticut State University graduating with a degree in journalism and over the summers when I was home on Long Island, I started working as Sparky the Dragon for the Islanders. My last two years of college I interned with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. I did some stories for the Sound Tigers website and for their monthly newspaper Sound Tigers Illustrated.
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What is going on with the Islanders and their prospects? Rhett Rakhshani has signed a one-year deal with HV71 in Sweden, Justin DiBenedetto is on his way to Austria and Mark Katic is going to Germany. Granted Trevor Gillies also signed to play in Russia but he was never going to see the NHL again and I think we can all agree on that. But what does the moves by Rakhshani, DiBenedetto and Katic mean for themselves and to the Islanders as an organization?
Rakhshani who led the Sound Tigers in points the last two seasons, who also spent some time with the Islanders, has chosen to take his talents to Jönköping. With Jesse Joensuu returning to the Islanders on a one-year, one-way deal, HV71 have taken another Islanders prospect whose spot on the Islanders is up in the air. Rakhshani who was a great scorer and play maker in Bridgeport, isn’t going to be a top six forward on the Islanders, at best he's a third-line forward who will focus on defense and checking who will get time on the penalty kill and chip in on the offensive every now and then. (Photo Credit: Scott Slingsby/Flickr)
Now that’s nothing to be ashamed about, but you don’t get paid the big bucks unless you are able to put the puck in the net on the big stage. Going over to Sweden Rakhshani will be able to get the same ice time he would get in Bridgeport, but you could argue that he will be playing against better talent than he would be playing in the AHL. Hopefully he will become a better overall hockey player, than he already is, and come back to the Islanders a year from now wanting to and earning a spot on the roster.
DiBenedetto probably made the best decision for himself and his career. Watching him for two seasons in Bridgeport, you could tell that he had reached the peak of his talent and that he didn’t have a chance to make the Islanders.
Yes he increased his point total every year since joining the Sound Tigers for the 2009 Calder Cup Playoffs, but when you saw him on the ice he seemed like a selfish player. He would always go for the hit and ignore the puck; he would be that guy who threw the extra unnecessary hit that would star a scuffle or brawl when the team was either down five or up five. I personally could never root for a player like him. I wish him the best obviously but I think this is the last we will hear of DiBenedetto and his North American career. (Photo Credit: KatyLovesHockey/Flickr)
The Katic signing I think surprised me more than the Rakhshani signing. The only reason is because as a whole the organization defensive corps is thin. On the Island with the exception of Mark Streit, Travis Hamonic and Andrew MacDonald every other spot is up for grabs and currently in Bridgeport you have Matt Donovan, Aaron Ness, Calvin de Hann and Ty Wishart.
Other than the open spots and chance for a little friendly competition, which some athletes thrive off of, the fact that he was coming off of his second shoulder surgery you would think he would want to prove himself, instead of going off to Germany.
With these departures though, the Islanders have a ton of prospects that are still playing juniors who are waiting for the opportunity to sign their entry-level deals. They have recently signed 2011 second-round pick Johan Sundstrom and they have players like Anders Lee, Brenden Kichton, Kirill Kabanov who are still playing either juniors or in Lee’s case still in college.
The future is still bright with this team, they are stacked with prospects, so losing these three hurt more now than they will by the time the season starts. But if I could see one of the players returning it would be Rakhshani. He’s a great guy who plays with heart and he’s a great team guy.