Grading The Isles Moves Thus Far
July 1st came and went with plenty of Free Agent action for many fans' delight. But for Isles fans, it was a quiet day. For those who read the many blogs that are available just a click away on the Internet, many knew to expect minimal movement, if any, by GM Garth Snow.
It wasn't until the following day that the Islanders decided to get their hands dirty. Former Pittsburgh Penguin Mark Eaton was signed to a two-year contract to start off the fun, just before defenseman Milan Jurcina was signed as well. A few moments later, P.A. Parenteau, the lone shootout scorer for the Rangers in their playoff show-down with the Flyers, was signed to a contract as well. And to top off the frenzy, Zenon Konopka, the league-leader in PIMs was signed to a one-year deal.
If you ask me, those aren't bad choices by Garth.
Mark Eaton will be a reliable, sound defenseman that will make few mistakes in his end over the next two years. He brings a Stanley Cup ring to the table and veteran assistance to help Mark Streit when playing with young skaters such as Jack Hillen and Andrew MacDonald. Milan Jurcina will be a good 5th or 6th defenseman. He adds size but has been criticized for not using it throughout his career. He's still pretty young at the age of 27 and may find a way to step up his game. If he doesn't, he's only signed to a one-year deal. At the very least, he will take Bruno Gervais off the ice as he will become the 7th defenseman as long as Radek Martinek stays healthy. I'm sure some of you laughed when I said that; don't worry, I didn't take that statement seriously either. Bruno will find his way into the line-up once Marty sneezes and breaks or tears something. (Despite my sarcasm, I hope Radek stays healthy as long as possible since he is possibly the best defensive defenseman on the team).
However, neither of these two additions add offense to the blue-line, which will be another problem for the Islanders power play.
P.A. Parenteau appears to be the Islanders "new" experiment, having admitted their failures with Jeff Tambellini. They opted to not offer Tambs a qualifying offer and he has decided to sign with the Vancouver Canucks - and I wish him the best of luck. Hopefully he will find his scoring touch and be the player in the NHL that he was in the AHL. But back to Parenteau; he was solid for the Blue Shirts in the shootout last season and will add depth in that department behind Nielsen and Schremp. But he hasn't found a level of consistency during the first 60 minutes. Could he be this year's Matt Moulson? We shall see. Parenteau was given a one-way deal, so you can expect him to be in the Isles line-up at the start of October.
Zenon Konopka is expected to answer many Isles fans' prayers with hay-makers and upper-cuts, something that was lacked all season until the insertion of Trevor Gillies. He led the league in PIMs with 265 and can throw with the best of them; he's not afraid to take on guys his size (6'1) or bigger, as there are plenty of fights on YouTube where he's throwing down with players that were as tall as 6'7. And if you're afraid that he's going to be the only tough guy on the fourth line, you can relax. Garth was quoted via Twitter by Newsday reporter, Katie Strang, that he sees Konopka playing alongside of Gillies, not in replace. Ladies and gentleman, the Islanders have finally gotten tougher. Who here is salivating at the thought of Derek Boogaard and Zenon Konopka going at it for the first Isles/Rangers game of the season? I know I am...
As for the Islanders and Kovalchuk, I wrote an entire piece about it at the The Hockey Writers and it can be found here: http://thehockeywriters.com/is-kovalchuk-island-bound/
Hopefully Snow has a few more tricks up his sleeve and can land another top-six forward. Alexander Frolov, Lee Stempniak, Paul Kariya and Alexei Ponikarovsky are all still available. Almost every team is at a stand-still, waiting to see where Ilya will sign. Many are expecting the domino effect to ensue once he places his pen to a piece of paper and puts all rumors to rest. Maybe then you will see the Isles add another piece to the puzzle.
As expected, the Islanders didn't land grade-A talent, but they did add certain assets that were lacking from their roster that should help this team take the next step. Overall, I give Garth Snow a B-.
How would you grade the Isles so far?
(In addition, the Isles have decided in what has been reported (unofficially) as a mutual agreement to not bring back Assistant General Manager Ryan Jankowski, who was also the Islanders head-scout. It appears that Garth Snow will assume additional responsibilities with the organization).
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