For this price, for this roster, for this guy -- for his presence and influence -- it's pretty hard not to like the Islanders' decision to keep pending UFA Doug Weight in the fold for a mere $2.2 million ($200k of which is a playoff-dependent bonus). That's about half his cap hit (including bonuses) for this season.
He's old, yes. He gets injured, yes. His points are powerplay-dependent, yes. But Weight has simply been a different kind of veteran around the team this season -- hardly the "bad apple" presence of some vets who Scott Gordon has claimed are now gone. Weight has publicly supported Gordon's aggressive system from the beginning -- even if the fabled "overspeed" might be a tax on his 38-year-old legs. His influence has been significant and noted on 19-year-old, first-round pick Josh Bailey, who Weight is keeping tabs on:
At 38, nearly old enough to be Bailey's father, Isles centre Doug Weight sounds like a proud papa when he talks about his rookie teammate.
"I don't think a lot of kids at that age could handle what has been thrown at Josh," Weight said. "As young as he is when you look at him, he's definitely mature enough to handle the situation he's in.
And as I've argued all season long, for both cap floor-hitting and for locker room presence purposes, the Islanders will need some kind of veterans in the fold next season. Better to have one who's already quite happily been through a year of this operation -- a last-place year, no less -- and was actually yearning to return. That beats picking up your random Comrie off the scrap heap and watching them turn into a sad panda.
"Long Island has been a wonderful place for me and my family," Weight said. "It was an easy decision to come back for another season."
Since Weight came back recently from his six-week MCL sprain R&R, he has been a man possessed, keeping the kids pepped, doling out instruction and even fighting -- twice -- anybody who took liberties with his crew. You can call that burst of energy a contract drive, but you could also call that the behavior of a man who knows his remaining time playing this child's game is short, so best live it to its' fullest.
|2008-09 - Doug Weight||49||9||26||35||-13||55||5||0||0||1||87||10.3|
Weight's stats are likely to be either similar or decline next season. He's likely to hit the injury list once or twice with a groin here and a damn-I'm-old there. But he and Mark Streit still make a strong power play pair on the points, and the fact Weight was once a wide-eyed rookie in New York (that "other" one) provides him perspective that he can continue to pass on to the crop of youngsters who keep popping up in the Islanders pipeline.
What's more, he truly believes in this roster's chances (when healthy) of doing some damage next season:
Mark [Streit] has been unbelievable. We've got one of the four or five best defensemen in the world on our team that can log minutes. That's a strong opinion, but I've played with a lot of the best. I think we build around him, and we're going to be a balanced team and I think we can be a playoff team."
Whether that's realistic or not, it beats the alternative -- and that belief is a necessary ingredient for any healthy locker room
At $2.2 million, you better believe I'll take it. Wouldn't you?