With the final arbitration hearings over and a likely decision for Los Angeles to accept whatever Mike Cammalleri is awarded Monday, it's time to see what players are left in UFA and where Islander gm Garth Snow should look to fill his needs beyond trades which are possible.
As I discussed a few days ago, the waiting game for second tier free agents is one where some teams need to free cap space by trading to sign a player they want from the second tier list, not all teams can jump in and sign a player and many of them have downside.
For those reading this as a time not that important for the Islanders, last summer Snow made his first official moves as gm and signed Kozlov, Hill, Park and Mike Dunham. All four played at times played important roles on last season's playoff team. The discovery of Hill, who struggled in Florida and Kozlov who contributed 25 goals were critical and outright steals.
That was then, this is now, Garth Snow/Nolan and the staff have some holes to fill that seem to go beyond what they seem have currently unless they feel a prospect has a better chance than a veteran.
Former Islander beat writer at the New York Post Evan Grossman did a feature on the remaining free agents here
I thought this would be a good time to preview the second half of UFA this
August-September and who's has the best chance of helping the club next season.
Teemu Selanne -- Despite the talk of him signing elsewhere, it's likely Anaheim or retirement.
He would clearly provide scoring for the Islanders but he's played his entire career in the Western Conference. Hard to see him come back to Anaheim, win a cup, then leave again despite Anaheim's cap issues.
Peter Forsberg --
Attractive to plenty of teams, including the Islanders where he would have to immediately be their franchise player with Guerin. Unlikely due to health, teams he would prefer to play for, age and salary, but of course there is a fit for him here as a first or second line center.
Michael Peca -- Sentimental pick, still doing a lot of complaining and is very old and injury prone at this point. Seems like he's using other clubs to resign in Toronto who does not have the cap space at the moment but says he would even take 1.5m to resign and has made noise about wanting to sign with Buffalo. Islanders have Mike Sillinger on the third line and he's not getting any younger. Despite talk from Peca he can still produce like a second line center is best suited as a third line center. No doubt the teams mandate regarding grit, leadership make Peca attractive to management in any role but it does not seem like the right fit for the club any longer. Peca, now can only pick his spots for hitting and his production is sporadic at best. Still is that big game player, who's intangibles you want on your team as demonstrated by his playoff in Edmonton.
Peca will sign if here if he's desperate or given more money, but he's has options and for management they have options and for both sides those options could be better.
Trevor Linden -- Would he leave the team he belongs on that gets the most out of him over money? Very possible.
It's almost a decade since he's been here and likely fits the Nolan mode of player, but it's hard to see him here again at his age and expect the kind of production the club will need from him.
Darren McCarty -- McCarty had no points in 32 games last year with Calgary in addition to concerns about his durability as a 35-year-old. New York would be a new beginning for him and with Asham not signed he might be worth a one year deal, but Isles need production and McCarty seems to be on the downside.
All depends on what Snow and Nolan hear from his agent and the player if interested. This is a case like Hill and may be worth a risk for his veteran experience to go with Simon.
Jeff O'Neill- Lot's of struggles for years, but his production improved last season, is New York the right fit and can Nolan get the most out of him?
At age 31 it's an interesting choice because this is where some of these players turn into Gary Roberts.
Vladimir Orszagh -- Former Islander is 30 now, but before his injury looked like a player who can really help an offense in Nashville with a lot of speed.
Nolan may not like an offense-first player like him and Commrie on the same roster but has the potential to bring the veteran speed and skill lacking. Still for all that skill, can he put up the numbers? I would call his agent.
Final Analysis:Done like dinner.
Eric Lindros --
Final Analysis: Dinner will be ready soon, talking retirement and could not produce on a team with a lot of skilled offensive players, to rely on him as a primary player anymore is a disaster waiting to happen. Sense of entitlement only allows him to play for select teams.
Jeremy Roenick -- Not sure Nolan would like the entertainment value he would bring here with his mouth that is far more effective than his game. On this team he would have to work much harder than he has in years, production wise see-Peca without the intangibles.
Needs a club to score and win for him where he can pick his spots, more would be required here.
Travis Green -- Has it really been that long Green stayed in this league until age 37 in December? Old management is out so no Milbury factor he’ll win some face offs for you and if he can stay healthy, he’ll chip in an assist here and there. but seems like a bad fit here. How did we let him score in game seven against us in 2002?
A prospect may be ready to do more
Jason Allison--Has not played since 05-06, never signed, a solid second line center but slow and has consistency and injury issues.
Someone has to report he's serious about becoming an NHL player again and working as hard as it takes before he's considered for this team, in only those circumstance would he help here.
Anson Carter-Only productive as a support player.
Erik Rasmussen-Not too sure
Arron Asham-Don't laugh but most upside of anyone I have reviewed with his speed, shot and age.
Tony Amonte-Long gone are the rumors of 2002 where he was signing here for 6m.
Jeff Friesen-Best overall player of this bunch, worth a call.
Jan Bulis-Not too sure
Josef Vasicek-Need more info
Peter Bondra-Right circumstances could help but hurt too often and slowing down, can easily be next Kozlov of healthy but that's unlikely.
Patrik Stefan-Don't know much other than his concussions in Atlanta.
Danny Markov -- Hasn’t been a minus player in nine years in the NHL and he’s one of the best pure defenders still out there. Markov may be asking for too much because he doesn’t have the offensive skills some of his peers may posses, but in terms of straight defense, there isn’t anyone better on the market. He’s 31 and could be a solid addition for any NHL squad, provided he lowers his asking price.
Make the call, pay his price and replace Hill so Witt has someone who can bang with him for a few years, Islanders need him or someone else has to step up and that kind of defender is not on this roster or in the system.
Andy Sutton -- His 6-foot-6 frame is enticing for general managers looking to land a crease-clearing defense man who has proven to be responsible in his own end the last few years. His size is right up there among the NHL’s giants, but his plus-19 rating over the last two years in Atlanta means he can move those feet, too.
To me he's marginal and his plus/minus was more reflective of Atlanta's offense, and there is a good chance Snow might have to settle for him anyway.
Bryan Berard -- A minus-57 the last three years combined, Berard won’t be confused with Ray Bourque any time soon. But he’s another one of those guys on the back end who makes up for defensive shortcomings with a gift for producing offense off the blue line. Limited to 11 games last year with Columbus, Berard could help to upgrade a lot of defensive units around the NHL looking for a power-play quarterback and a guy who can get the puck up the ice in a hurry.
Islanders have Bergeron, Campoli, Martinek, he cannot help this roster and has a ton of downside.
Brent Sopel-best suited for Vancouver, struggled here most of his short season.
Islanders have six NHL defenders and Johnson who played 61 games with Columbus last season, no chance on any of these players with their downside.
NY Islander Fan Central Recommends:
Contacting Markov, Orszagh, Jeff O'Neill, Jeff Friesen, Michael Peca and Andy Sutton in that order.