Isles Key RFA's: What Will Snow Do?
Yes, I am FULLY aware that the playoffs are going on right now. About every other blogger on this site is having a field day with playoff blogs - and I don't blame them. Whether or not their respective teams are in it, they are doing a great job providing their perspectives on the most exciting time of the year for the NHL.
I am still rooting for the Hawks, Kings, Coyotes, Avs, Devils, Caps, Sens and Sabres - although I did not pick my favorites to win each series.
And I have to say, yesterday I got a kick out of Adrian Aucoin telling Mike Milbury that he feels like he's back with the Islanders with the way he's been playing. Adrian has been missed greatly over the past few years, as his best playing days were with the orange and blue (excluding his 22-goal season with the Canucks when he was a youngen). He is solely one of the reasons why I am rooting for the Yotes. Throw in their ownership issues throughout the year (with the Lighthouse Project in limbo, I can relate) and their ability to pull ahead with their first 50-win season with one of my favorite former Islanders on board, how could I not root for them?
But anyway...for the Islanders faithful that have not been treated to an Islanders post-season this year, I thought I'd talk about a few players that are heading into Restricted Free Agency.
Sean Bergenheim: Sean has been with the Isles for several years now. Scouts originally predicted him to be a third-line forward but at times throughout the year he has played below that expectation. There were many games where he was a ghost on the ice; he could not be found at all. But then towards the end of the season he would suddenly find a way to make himself noticeable. That's been a problem for Bergy throughout his career, he has yet to find consistency and only plays his best hockey when nothing is on the line. Being that he was a healthy scratch the day before the trade deadline makes me assume that he was being used as a bargaining chip in potential deals that eventually fell through. My guess is that Sean has played his last game as an Islander. (2010 stats - 63 GP 10-13-23)
Rob Schremp: Rob scored one of the best goals of the year against the Colorado Avalanche; he caught the puck after a wide-shot off the end-boards, let go of it in mid-air and then swung a home-run blast just under the crossbar. He displayed the ability to be a top-9 forward despite his small stature. Quick hands, a sharp release and strong skating ability make him a potential threat on the ice. He put up decent numbers despite finding difficulty cracking the line-up and being forced to end his season early due to injury. However, Schremp plays as a center, and Gordon has stated that he will only play center. The Isles have depth at that position with Nielsen, Tavares and Bailey, but Josh did play his best hockey of the year when he was moved to left wing. I believe that the Islanders will keep Schremp if they cannot find a veteran top-six center via free agency or decide they would rather Bailey have that position instead. (2010 stats - 44 GP 7-18-25)
Jeff Tambellini: If you were the son of a former Islander and have sat in the press-box more than any other of your teammates for the past 2-3 years, would you want to re-sign? I don't think so. I believe that the Islanders and Jeff will respectively part ways. (2010 stats - 36 GP 7-7-14)
Matt Moulson: Moulson entered training camp as a likely Bridgeport call-up but ended up leading the Islanders in goals during the pre-season and regular season. He found chemistry with long-time buddy, John Tavares and right-winger Kyle Okposo. He may not have the best hands but he has a nose for the net and is not afraid to crash the crease to bang home loose pucks. It's a no-brainer. The Islanders have to lock him up. Personally, I hope it's anywhere in the range of a 2-3 year deal. Anything more than that would be too much for a guy who has only one full year of NHL experience under his belt. He needs to prove that this year was not a fluke. (2010 stats - 30-18-48)
Dylan Reese and Dustin Kohn: Both defenseman did a solid job of stepping up their play when the Islanders needed them after Andy Sutton was traded, Andy MacDonald broke his foot and Jack Hillen broke his jaw. They will both likely be tendered qualifying offers with two-way contracts that will see them with Jack Capuano's squad in Bridgeport, but you can expect them to be the first guys called up when Martinek or another defenseman gets hurt.
Bergenheim, Schremp and Tambellini may be used by Garth Snow at the draft to either move up from the 5th spot or move one of his 2nd round picks up into the mid-to-late first round region. But at the same time, don't be surprised if my predictions are wrong and two or possibly all three of these guys remain with the Islanders. Garth's ability to attract free agents (or inability) may have a big influence in what he chooses to do with these guys.
Only time will tell, but who would you like to see stay or go?
Check out my End of the Year Review for the Islanders at The Hockey Writers! Feel free to leave comments!
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