With the Islanders reporting for camp next week a grade and full evaulation of Gm Garth Snow, Ted Nolan and the hockey committee can finally be made, unfortunately on
paper I cannot give management a grade higher than D for the summmer.
In the new capped league it becomes a chess match once the prime free agents receive the top dollar offers because for several reasons teams can only spend so much money or have set budgets. Some second and third tier free agents are still waiting for offers where before the cap this was usually decided by August 1st.
This summer the club's management set out to continue the template began last summer bringing in character players with talent and skill who would show up every single game who were team players. Given the reported low offers to players like Jason Blake or limited long-term interest in Tom Poti or simply letting Kozlov walk away combined with Alexei Yashin's buyout it was clear what they did not want and they had a plan long-term.
What Snow and Ted Nolan did want was Ryan Smyth to resign but not at any cost so he did not receive an Alexei Yashin like contract which would have attracted other free agents. When he got a fair market contract after 7/1 and nothing that would overwhelm him in terms of suppporting talent he elected to sign in Colorado. This seemed to effect everything and set the tone for a lot of moves in many cases where it looked like management settled for players with some of them electing only a one year commitment, hardly at a bargain price. Smyth not signing also kept other players from signing here as it was reported the Islanders wanted to sign Scott Gomez and Chris Drury. Given the club's finances a front-loaded contract does not seem possible which is what both players did receive.
Snow also looked like a rookie gm over his head bringing up the Nassau Coliseum when all things were equal when he could not land some UFA when the pressure was on and should have pushed behind the scenes for an answer from Ryan Smyth, who could have been traded for something to help the club. Nolan and Snow naming a captain as a surprise to Bill Guerin also seemed like a mistake that should have been discussed behind the scenes.
As good as a Fedotenko, Comrie, Guerin, Sutton or Josef Vaicek's best seasons were the Islanders have to have that here next season for the club to be competitive and it's unlikely Ted Nolan can push a career out of all of them. Given the durability issues with some of these players, an awful lot is being on many levels.
What also cannot be overlooked here is the Islanders could not get something done long-term with Trent Hunter while other clubs were locking up their pending UFA. Management also seemed to save a litle money going for a lesser player in Andy Sutton over Dany Markov/Tom Poti or Vasicek over an established second line center combined with offensive skills management has opened themselves up to fair criticism of their plan on paper to this point.
Would the club even be inviting a Bryan Berard to camp if they simply gave Poti the extra years for a little more? Would Sutton be a consideration if Markov got the three million Sutton received for three years?
At this point anything is possible. What seems to have been the second or lower choices on management's list this summer could be fantastic signings. No one was doing cartwheels for Kozlov, Hill, Park, Sillinger, Witt, Simon, Dunham or Poti a year ago.
But ask me to grade the club's summer on paper to this point and my grade is a D.