Isles Create Roster Space, Changes Coming July 1st?

The Islanders have decided to not tend qualifying offers to Sean Bergenheim and Jeff Tambellini, making them set to become Unrestricted Free Agents on July 1st. Nathan Lawson, Dylan Reese, Dustin Kohn, Rob Schremp and Matt Moulson were tendered their offers, extending the Islanders rights to keep them with the big club. You can expect that they are likely to accept their offers with little or no negotiating.

So what does this mean for the rest of the roster?

Jon Sim, Tim Jackman and Richard Park are still without contracts and heading into free agency most likely looking for new homes. Kohn, Reese and Lawson will likely be sent back to Bridgeport, keeping Schremp and Moulson with the big club where they belong. That allows some wiggle room for GM Garth Snow to be active on the open market.

I've mentioned who I would like to see the Isles go after in the past: Alexander Frolov, Eric Nystrom and Pavel Kubina. Will the Isles get any of these guys? Who knows? I can't even say that the Isles have any specific interest.

However, Eric Nystrom is the son of legendary Islander Bobby Nystrom, who is still very involved with the organization. The Bobby Nystrom Award is given out by him at the end of every season to the player that best determines character and dedication to his hockey club. He is also seen at various games throughout the season.

Eric is not his father and isn't expected to be the player his father was either. But he grew up in Syosset, NY, the same town in which the Islanders practice facility has been located for the past several years. He also showed that he loved playing in this building when Calgary made their visit this past season. He had one goal and one assist, and if my memory serves me correctly, had the Islanders not tied the game, his goal would have been the game-winner.

I have heard that him and his father are a little skeptical about him playing here, but you would have to assume it would make anyone happy to have their son playing in the building that he used to call home; or to play in the building that you came to as a child, just fifteen minutes away from the town you grew up in. He would provide a physical presence on the fourth line, good leadership and the potential to score a few timely goals when needed. Imagine if he centered a line with a kid like Matt Martin and Trevor Gillies on the other end. Gillies to Nystrom? If only Trevor was related...either way, not only would it be fun, but the Isles would be tough again.

Frolov would fit the fast paced style of hockey that the Islanders have been playing over the past two years. He would also make Kirill Petrov's possible entry into the Islanders line-up a little more welcoming being that they are both Russian. Frolov is still young and has plenty of potential to emerge as more than just your average top-six forward.

The Isles need size on the blue-line with the loss of Andy Sutton. They also need offense since Mark Streit is the only one who can score on a relatively consistent basis. Hillen, MacDonald, Martinek and Gervais aren't exactly offensive threats. They also aren't the biggest defenseman either. Travis Hamonic may get a shot with the big club this year, but even so, the Isles would need more veteran leadership. Kubina has all of that. He is 6'4 and weighs close to 240 pounds. He'll drop the mits when needed and has averaged about 40 points over the past three years. He may be a little expensive, but he possesses every need that this team has on defense.

Those are my choices. I wouldn't be surprised if the Islanders sign at least one of these guys. However, they may not sign any. Free agency hasn't been very nice to the Islanders in the past, given the uncertain status of the Lighthouse Project and the current aging facility. But the fact that Snow is choosing to open up his roster for changes may be a sign that he will be a bit more aggressive as of noon this Thursday.

Who would you like to see the Islanders target?

-Rob McGowan

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