It's a testament to Garth Snow's commitment to build from within (and to the assembly of spare parts that came with that move) that the Islanders had few notable unrestricted free agents heading into this offseason.
Now in mid-July, half way through the silly season's opening, most big names -- from and to other teams, of course -- are gone. The big splashes are mostly over (yet Alex Tanguay still dangles, while Isles fans still dream). Many AHLers have fled to Europe. The market will settle down, which means bit players will start to move around from now until training camp, including several Islanders from last season.
A look at which 2008-09 Islanders are still available, and who of note has already found a new address:
|2008-09 Mike Sillinger||7||2||0||2||-5||0||1||0||0||0||14||14.3|
Mike Sillinger -- Last public word from him was that he wanted to try to continue his career (why go through painful surgery and not give it a go?), but he knew reality meant it likely wouldn't be with the Isles. It'd be great to see him end things on his own terms after last year's lost season.
Teams that could use him: Any playoff team looking for experienced, inexpensive faceoff help. A return to his original team, Detroit? Or to another old team -- there are so many -- Ken Hitchcock's Columbus?
2008-09 salary/cap hit: $2.3 million ($2.2 million cap hit)
|2008-09 (OTT/NYI) Dean McAmmond||62||5||11||16||7||24||0||1||2||0||59||8.5|
Dean McAmmond -- The Islanders' purchase in the swap of UFA forwards (for Mike Comrie) was, tellingly, one of the Islanders' better forwards during his brief time here down the stretch. He had fun and liked being given important minutes again. But the Islanders have those minutes reserved for those who will make up The Future.
Teams that could use him: Any team looking for speed and penalty killing/checking depth with a splash of scoring touch. If Chicago got rid of a few salaries to manage their cap, McAmmond would be a cheap replacement.
2008-09 salary/cap hit: $900,000 ($875,000 cap hit)
|2008-09 (NYI/OTT) Mike Comrie||63||10||17||27||-15||32||2||0||1||0||121||8.3|
Mike Comrie -- The other half of the Ottawa UFA exchange tacked on to the Chris Campoli deal, Comrie's career always seems to follow a meandering path. Ottawa reportedly tried to re-sign him at half price, with no luck. Given his performance, pay cut is eminently reasonable, which is why he probably wanted no part of it. Already accustomed to being a journeyman and shopping his toe drag around, he'll likely hold out for the money he wants, then cherry-pick a good situation (whether on-ice or off-ice) when a pay cut appears inevitable.
Teams that could use him: Well, if a serious contender -- most of whom are up near the cap -- signs Comrie for $3 million-plus, they're either choosing a last resort after other options fell through/experience catastrophic injury, or going all in by spending luxuriously on depth. He did well as a secondary scorer on Ottawa's Cup finals team: But even that role wasn't worth the kind of money he's likely seeking. Why oh why does it feel like he'll end up in Los Angeles or Miami, or else back with the Senators?
2008-09 salary/cap hit: $4 million
|2008 - Andy Hilbert||67||11||16||27||-3||22||1||1||0||0||167||6.6|
Andy Hilbert -- When you earn your way through the traditional route to unrestricted free agency in the NHL, you'd like to at least net a $1 million salary. Alas. As we asked in Hilbert's report card, can a checker on a last-place team "cash in" on the market after a career-high 11 goals? Hilbert can fill a lot of roles -- the question is whether you'd rather pay him a veteran rate to do them at Andy Hilbert level or pay a young AHLer a cheap rate to do them at an unknown level.
Teams that could use him: If Hilbert's not going to get a real free agent raise, he might as well take a cheap rate to be a utility guy on a contender like Detroit, Chicago or Pittsburgh (the latter two being former employers). But there's still a chance for a bottom-tier team to grab him and give him ice time like he saw with the Islanders.
2008-09 salary/cap hit: $700,000 (cap hit of $675,000)
|2008-09 (NYI/PIT) - Bill Guerin||78||21||27||48||-12||81||5||0||4||1||226||9.3|
2008-09 salary/cap hit: $4.5 million
2009-10 salary: $2 million, with potential $850,000 in bonuses
|2008-09 - Mitch Fritz||20||0||0||0||-4||42||0||0||0||0||2||0.0|
Mitch Fritz -- It took him nine years to get his NHL debut, and he may not get back, so you know Fritz is going to remain appreciative of the opportunity. With the way the ink has flowed for the younger (and under contract) Joel Rechlicz lately, Fritz is the odd man out.
Teams that could use him: Fritz acquitted himself well enough in fights to earn a deal as another AHL team's enforcer. If the stars align, maybe that turns into more NHL appearances.
2008-09 salary/cap hit: $500,000 (NHL salary)
|2008-09 (NHL-NYI) - Joe Callahan||18||0||2||2||5||4||0||0||0||0||6||0.0|
Joe Callahan -- He'll be 27 this winter, and while he got above-expectations grades in our year-end report card, an injury replacement on a 30th-place team is simply not a sought-after commodity.
Teams that could use him: Rumors of Callahan's move to the Sharks were greatly exaggerated. He could end up like a lot of the Islanders' Bridgeport players, who have turned up in Europe (Jeremy Colliton, Kurtis McLean) or other lesser locales (Chris Lee, Peter Mannino) this summer. Good luck, Joe. Don't stop hittin'.
2008-09 salary/cap hit: $575,000 (NHL salary)
|2008-09 - Thomas Pock||59||1||2||3||-17||35||0||0||0||0||51||2.0|
Thomas Pock -- One of the earliest summer departures, this pre-season waiver pickup from the Rangers has signed in Switzerland. The Islanders have a dozen prospects with a higher ceilling (thankfully), so you better believe they weren't going to let him Pockblock them.
|2008-09 (NHL, NYI) - Yann Danis||31||1760||10||17||3||1||84||2.86||933||849||.910||2|
Yann Danis -- Found a home nearby in New Jersey (Or, worst-case, Lowell). We found him adequate in Danis' year-end report card, and his skillset just might be ideal to back up Martin Brodeur. Good luck Yann, please don't stone us.
|2008-09 - Joey MacDonald||49||2792||14||26||6||7||157||3.37||1584||1427||.901||1|
Joey MacDonald -- Though he beat out Danis for the backup job in preseason (or, if you like, simply had the advantage of a one-way contract), MacDonald finished the season looking like the weaker goalie.
Teams that could use him: Unfortunately, the market is flooded with goalies like him. He could end up anywhere on the planet.
2008-09 salary/cap hit: $500,000
AHL regulars like Colliton and Mike Iggulden have moved on, too, but that covers the guys who saw significant NHL time last season. If I omitted anyone -- or if there's anyone else you'd like to talk about -- as always, drom 'em in comments or give an expanded idea a whirl in a FanPost.