6/15/11

NYIFC Free Agent Speculation & What's Ahead

New York Islander Fan Central | 6/15/2011 12:19:00 PM


NYIFC will have some blog entries during the draft weekend, all profiles will be added to the prospect blog.

Hockey will be picking up around here for the near future, a mix of blog entries and twitter updates.

Unfortunately the Nassau-Mangano sideshow will have to be worked in because the financing plan is due in June.

Setting The Agenda:
Today 6/15 is the beginning of the buyout period and where teams can elect salary arbitration, that will be delayed until 48 hours after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Finals.

The NHL schedule was released last year on 6/22, we are getting close to that as well but late finals/Winnipeg-Atlanta could delay things a bit.

The Monday deadline after the NHL draft (perhaps before) we find out who the Islanders are qualifying among it's restricted free agents. My speculation is the handwriting is on the wall for classy Bruno Gervais, or at best, will be asked to accept a two-way contract.

How Do Qualifying Offers Work?
Teams have to make a qualifying offer by the Monday after the NHL draft or lose the rights to a player. Qualifying offer means a guaranteed raise of ten percent in most instances, but a chance for another team to sign that player to an offer sheet after July 1st.

The player can accept the qualifying offer (which means he is signed) reject (the team keeps the player rights past 7/1 as an RFA) or the player/team can file for arbitration where the team can walk away from an award.

A rejection of the qualifying offer with neither side electing salary arbitration can lead to a stalemate with Wang law upon the club opening it's training camp.

Restricted Free Agency:
I suspect Josh Bailey is looking for the same commitment Kyle Okposo just received.

Will he simply accept a qualifying offer after being moved from wing to center and back too many times? The center spot has Cizikas, Ullstrom and Brock Nelson in college, but this is Snow's targeted player he traded down for twice.

Blake Comeau has had back to back twenty goal seasons, we can debate his scoring droughts for large parts of those years when he needed to produce most and failed to do so, however I cannot see simply accepting a qualifying offer which could make him a trade-able commodity or someone headed to arbitration.

Jack Hillen showed good offensive flashes in the second half and Snow signed him out of Denver as a free agent, but it's going to be interesting to see if he accepts a qualifying offer after he gained a year of eligibility with his first agreement which was why he played those two NHL games at the end of 2007-08.

Ty Wishart was his return for Roloson and got a max contract, there is Katic, Donovan, Ness with Calvin deHaan entering the final year of his ELC so a lot of competition.

Jesse Joensuu I'm not sure has a lot of options beyond accepting if qualified. The organizational depth chart beyond Bridgeport is smaller with a lot of turnover, but a new class of prospects coming.

I do not know if the Islanders see Dylan Reese beyond a short-term serviceable option. Like what I saw from Katic a lot with his skating, plus there are big decisions on Dustin Kohn to be made with Donovan, Ness, Klementyev.
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As For The UFA:
Streit, MacDonald, Hamonic, Mottau, Eaton, Jurcina are all signed.

There is Hillen and a lot of defenders with deHaan after that. I would like to see Radek Martinek return, however he's likely going to test the market and all the teams that know he is an excellent defender, will find out first hand and pay extra to land him.

Management extended Jurcina so unless he's traded it's hard to see a spot opening.

I would not mind seeing a trade of Eaton or Mottau, both have been around the team recently if it means a signing of Martinek. Don't tell me it's to sign Joni Pitkanen with his five goals, minus rating and thirty points with his four powerplay goals in the last three years.

A lot of players here already can do that with more upside.

Would not mind seeing the club go back to it's plan from last summer and making an offer to Wisniewski with a healthy Mark Streit if not Martinek?

Only thing that can be counted on are injuries.
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My thoughts on Zenon Konopka are his two goals and minus fourteen are not enough at even strength to give him any kind of big raise. At any price the two goals from Konopka at a center position where Nielsen-Bailey's even strength numbers were not enough must be better overall.

Steve Yzerman in Tampa let Konopka walk away, kept Nate Thompson and was rewarded while Tim Jackman went to Calgary and produced like he never did here. Matt Martin was less visible last year as opposed to his rookie year mostly playing a fourth line role with Konopka as his center.

It does not necessarily mean Konopka is directly responsible for that, Martin could have held back Konopka and we all know Trevor Gillies is not going to produce often.

Of course a team with six hundred man game lost is going to have big problems. Maybe if Konopka is resigned he makes the same offensive leap Thompson and Jackman did because he has produced goals in the AHL?

The difference between Konopka's production vs Jackman and Thompson could have been all the difference in so many one goal regulation losses whicht finished the season in October, November, and early December.

Konopka's interviews, popularity, face-offs, penalty killing and fighting are all good, however in the end your fourth line has to outscore the other teams fourth line.

This could go either way and I have no problem with Ullstrom, Cizikas centering a fourth line with Hunter and Martin next year as Gillies/Haley are retained with two-way contracts.

What I can write is Konopka has a ton of fighting mileage and looked hurt at the end of last year. He's still somewhat of a young player, but had hand issues from fights.

The fans are not in the room so character, popularity and media save count for something on a team with no media, but still it's about winning and your fourth line outscoring the other teams.

It's everything on a team that lost all those close one goal games.

I can also see why the club should go after former Islander, Mike Rupp on 7/1 with his twenty three goals the last two years to go with his big size and fighting ability.

As for the rest I would have no problem with Snow finding someone to take Trent Hunter's contract but he would be selling at his lowest return, an injured player at two million the next two seasons is not an easy trade.

How Is Garth Snow Going To Reach The Cap Floor?
Anyone ever consider Wisniewski and Roloson'salaries were traded, Wishart was sent to Bridgeport for a long time, and even with all these injuries the club was not under the cap floor?

That tells me the club was well above the cap floor. Hamonic's contract was brought up long before Wisniewski was traded.

A lot of media rhetoric. You have a lot of young players, top picks making max contracts per CBA. Nielsen, MacDonald signed great contracts for less money over longer term.

Jussi Jokinen and Rob Scudei used to be waiver wire fodder, you identify players who can fit your organization and draft well, your club will be successful for a sustained period as long as you don't lose six hundred man games to injury.




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