The Isles Need To Continue Re-Signing Veterans Beyond This Season
As reported previously this week, the New York Islanders locked up defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky with a two-year contract extension worth $9.5 million.
GM Garth Snow has once again managed to acquire a valuable veteran through the trade market and convince him to stay longer than planned after he previously tried to avoid joining the team (Photo Credit: Robert Kowal/Flickr).
The first player that went through a similar scenario was goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, who is also playing in the final year of his contract. However, it has already been reported by Arthur Staple of Newsday that he appears to have an interest in remaining with the Isles.
Keeping Nabokov would be vital for the team's success heading into next season. It appears that former number one goalie Rick DiPietro could be on the verge of being bought out, either via amnesty or the traditional way. Although, DP has been playing better as of late with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Could DP be back next year in an Islanders uniform? Perhaps, but it is also possible that his improved play will potentially make him a serviceable back-up with another NHL team if he is looking for a new contract next season. DiPietro and the Islanders have always had a strong relationship; this outcome would not surprise me.
Especially if it's being reported that the Islanders have had preliminary talks with Nabokov about a contract renewal. Kevin Poulin could learn an awful lot from backing up Nabokov for an entire year.
Another player the Isles have supposedly had preliminary talks with is Brad Boyes. He has been a nice addition to this team at a very reasonable price but has not exactly been a perfect replacement for P.A. Parenteau.
There is reason to argue that someone like Nino Niederreiter could get a chance on the top line next season with John Tavares and Matt Moulson, or that a different free agent pick-up in the off-season could be a better choice than Boyes. But the latter still might be able to find a role on this team next year on either the second or third lines.
And if Niederreiter does not work out, or another player is not picked up, it would not be a terrible choice to keep Boyes on the top line.
Lastly, it has also been reported that the Islanders have had preliminary talks with captain Mark Streit. The defenseman is apparently seeking a three-year deal (spotboslow/Flickr).
Streit hasn't exactly been the best d-man for the Islanders this year and has actually been outplayed by Visnovsky. The 35-year old blue liner has 17 points in 35 games played, is a -14 and has apparently been playing through a knee injury as well.
Streit has also been on a steady decline in offensive production since joining the club in the 2009 season (56 points in 2009, 49 in 2010 and 47 in 2012) with a +/- rating that has consistently gotten worse.
Given the above concerns, three years might seem a little long. He still has been a valuable leader on the ice and finally has Visnovsky, a veteran offensive blue liner to help him quarterback the power play, which has typically been a reason for this team's success this year.
He still has some years in him and might be able to improve after a restful offseason and a full 82-games worth of help from Visnovsky as well. Keep in mind that young defenseman like Calvin de Haan, Matt Donovan, Aaron Ness and Griffin Reinhart could see time with the Islanders next year. Keeping someone like Streit around would be very beneficial to their development.
Hopefully Snow can work out a reasonable extension for the Islanders captain.
Bottom line, the above mentioned players must be kept on the roster going into next season. This is the first time in years that the Islanders have been this close to obtaining a playoff spot. It is time for Snow to build this team further up the standings by adding the right pieces.
Not throwing away the wrong ones.