The Isles Were Busy, And Might Not Be Done

The New York Islanders were very active yesterday, acquiring three new players on the open market on the first day of NHL Free Agency. Forward Brad Boyes was signed to a one-year, $1 million deal and was soon followed by defenseman Matt Carkner's three-year contract worth $4.5 million.

Not long after these signings, former Islanders forward P.A. Parenteau inked a four-year, $16 million deal with the Colorado Avalance. Although many on twitter felt that the Isles could have easily afforded Parenteau's new contract, it still made plenty of sense to let him go. Four years for a 29 year old hockey player that only had one season worthy of top line honors and only two full seasons of NHL experience is a lot to commit too. In addition, Matt Moulson presently makes less per year than Parenteau's new contract. Moulson has been a consistent thirty goal scorer since joining the Islanders and has maintained chemistry with his long-time buddy, John Tavares. GM Garth Snow must have seen the risks in possibly off-setting the locker room if he showed that he felt Parenteau was more deserving of a higher salary to go along with the other risk factors involved in that contract. With that being said, I wish Parenteau the best of luck and will look forward to seeing him return to Coliseum ice. (Photo Credit: Dinur/Flickr)

But in every difficulty lies an opportunity, and that is what Brad Boyes has been given. The former 40-goal scorer had a terrible season with the Buffalo Sabres in 2012, only scoring eight goals and 15 assists for 23 points in 65 games played. The 30-year old center still has plenty of gas left in the tank and could use the upcoming year with the Islanders as a golden chance to bring himself back to 50-60 points this season. And we've already seen what playing with John Tavares can do for any player. It worked wonders for both Moulson and Parenteau; Boyes just might be Snow's 2012 'diamond in the rough signing.' (Laura ES/Flickr)

Matt Carkner helps bring the Isles closer to solidifying their defense for next season, already looking much improved over the six we saw last year. At 6'4 and 237 pounds, Carkner will bring a strong, physical presence to the crease and hasn't been shy about wanting his first chance to stick up for his teammates.

Per the Isles official website:

“On the ice, I’m a solid defensive player,” Carkner said. “I make a quick first pass. Obviously, I can make the team a little tougher too. I think on the back end, this team needed a guy who can step in and provide some grit and some physical toughness. I’m there to help protect the players out on the ice as well.”

He's absolutely right. With former Islanders fan-favorite, Micheal Haley signing with the New York Rangers and Trevor Gillies no longer playing in the NHL, the Islanders needed someone to help Matt Martin do the dirty work on the ice. In an interview I did at the beginning of the summer, Martin explained that he doesn't want "to go out there and fight every shift." As opposed to being looked upon as a heavyweight, Martin considers himself "more of a power forward" that will fight when he has to "stick up for a teammate" or when he feels the need " to get the team going."  Having Carkner around will support Martin's type of play while also giving the team's goaltenders some added protection when players come running through the crease.

But the Islanders weren't done making the team tougher. Although it was announced yesterday, Snow officially signed forward Eric Boulton to a one-year contract today after clearing waivers at noon. Boulton scored zero points along with 115 PIMs in 51 games played with the New Jersey Devils last season and has over 1,200 PIMs in 600 NHL games played. Although the Islanders used to have a similar type of enforcer with Gillies, Boulton can skate in a regular shift and, with the help of Carkner and Martin, will only make the Islanders that much tougher to play against.

Although that is where the Islanders finished yesterday, there has been talk that Garth Snow has been looking into acquiring Bobby Ryan from the Anaheim Ducks. B.D. Gallof of Hockey Independent tweeted out earlier that the Islanders did more than just "kick tires" at trading for Ryan, which allows fans to see that Snow is "willing to strike a bigger deal IF it gets key player back to build with." I would have to agree with Gallof, as the situation does present the fact that Snow is looking at all options and seeing what he can do to pursue ones that appear to benefit the team's rebuild. (Beauty Playin 'Eh/Flickr)

Does this mean that the Isles are going to have Bobby Ryan on their roster in the next few days? Highly unlikely. Gallof also goes on to explain that the Ducks appear to be looking for a number two center, prospects and a valued draft pick as part of the deal. He continues that the only players on the Islanders that come close to being a number two center are Frans Nielsen, Josh Bailey and Ryan Strome.

The problems with those players is that Nielsen puts up third line numbers, Bailey has shown more than once that he'll produce better at wing and Strome isn't going anywhere because that woud go against everything Snow has done as GM. The only other potential second line center left on the Islanders is Brad Boyes, who was just acquired through free agency so the Ducks could've signed him if they really wanted too.

This doesn't mean that Snow won't find a way to persuade the Ducks into commiting to a trade, but other big market teams with better players and prospects, as Gallof also noted, will have more leverage in swinging a deal in their favor.

But it's always fun to remember that Garth Snow did land Ryan Smyth from the Edmonton Oilers for seemingly nothing. He is more than capable of getting a player via trade that could fill the second line center void on this team.

With day two coming to a close, keep checking back at TCL Isles for further coverage of Islanders signings and trades. 

-Rob McGowan
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rmo214's picture

Hope your right, Rob. Would love to be in on the Bobby Ryan sweepstakes, but I dont think they would have the personnel to get it done. Wishing though.

Rob McGowan's picture

I agree, I don't think that Snow has the resources to pull off a Bobby Ryan type of deal. But that doesn't mean something else can't happen with a different team/player. However, at the same time, I won't be surprised if Snow only makes some more minor changes to the roster.