Friday, July 1, 2011

Amidst Flurry of Un-Reasonable Contracts, Isles Nab Reasoner

The NHL's free agency period began at noon today, and if this offseason was already considered to be one of the wackiest in years, it shifted from wacky to outright insane. 

Christian Ehrhoff received a 10 year, $40 million deal from Buffalo Sabres' owner Terry Pegula, setting the stage for a highly active and overvalued free agency market. 

As far as the Islanders and their fans were concerned, that was hardly the case. The day went on, as Isles fans watched several wish-list players sign on elsewhere. Many were starting to wonder just what GM Garth Snow was thinking, where he was, and if he had possibly overslept. 

Snow attempted to be agressive, only to lose out on a handful of potential signees, usually to a team that plays in a state-of-the-art arena. Even Phoenix and Florida, considered to be comparable to the Isles (and not for good reasons) were able to make things happen. 

The bottom line is, we can be as optimistic as we want about this August 1 vote, but no significant free agent is going to settle on LI for more than a year or two just because the referendum "should pass." These players are looking for a paycheck, but they're looking for stability as well. 

But Snow was still able to upgrade the roster, signing veteran center Marty Reasoner to a two-year deal worth $1.25 million per season. 

Reasoner's an upgrade over the outgoing Zenon Konopka, who served as the team's fourth line pivot this past year, because, like Konopka, he's good on faceoffs, plus he's got speed, plays a stronger two-way game and has more offensive ability. 

To put things in perspective, Konopka had nine points this season. Marty Reasoner finished with 32. 

He won't drop the gloves, but the Isles have a couple of guys who are willing to throw down their mittens in Trevor Gillies, Matt Martin and Michael Haley. 

Reasoner's an experienced veteran, and he'll help set a proper example for some of the younger guys on the team. His responsibility in his own zone and with the puck, his defense-first philosophy and hockey smarts will benefit the Islanders during his tenure on Long Island. 

I don't think Snow's done. Even if he says he's not likely to achieve the rest of his goals through free agency, as TSN's Bob McKenzie always says, "expect the unexpected." Garth has stated he'd like to add one more defenseman, and with Scott Hannan, Tomas Kaberle and Bryan McCabe still available, I don't think it's a ridiculous stretch to say that the Isles might consider making a play to land at least one of those guys. 

His inability to make the kinds of moves Florida was definitely came as a surprise. I really expected the Isles to make a splash, and felt that more players would consider coming here, not only because Snow and Wang were prepared to spend money, but because there's a lot of excitement surrounding this organization right now. Unfortunately, as I mentioned before, the uncertainty surrounding the Aug 1 vote played a major role in deflecting UFA's away from the Islanders' sights. 

It'll be interesting to see how things develop going forward. The Isles still have to reach the cap floor, and it's going to take more than just re-signing Blake Comeau and Josh Bailey to do that. 

Comments are welcome.


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