Editor's Note: When the urge strikes you to write a full column/more than a comment's worth on a topic -- whether news of the moment or some grand theory you've been mulling -- by all means put it in a FanPost (the posts in the top-right section of the home page). When occasion warrants, we'll highlight it on the main page, as we've done with this FanPost by BCISLEMAN on the prospect of signing Miro Satan, the state of the Isles' blueline, and a plan to improve it. Thanks. --Dominik [BCISLEMAN's original post continues after the poll...]
Do NOT bring back the Great Satan!
I noted with particular horror a Newsday story suggesting that Miroslav Satan's agent was in negotiations with the Islanders. I am HOPING that this is simply a matter of said agent making inquiries and trying to create some buzz for his client. I HOPE that Garth and Ryan are NOT seriously considering such a move.
Now this is not because I dislike Miro. He was an OK Islander. This is just not the direction this franchise needs to go in now. I felt that way when all the buzz started about Tanguay and I feel even more strongly about it with Miro. We do not need older, flawed veterans--especially not at the forward position.
Apart from Doug Weight, Richard Park, and Jeff Tambellini (who has to prove he belongs in the NHL this season), virtually every forward on our roster has what we like to call "upside". That is to say, the player is likely to get better. Even Hunts has a whole other level that we only glimpsed in his inaugural season. And then there are the newcomers led, of course, by John Tavares. Free agent Matt Moulson and prospects Jesse Joensuu, Robin Figren, Justin DiBenedetto and Trevor Smith are just a few of the players who deserve a shot this year. Tavares will get his ice time regardless, but if Miro, or any veteran forward for that matter, is signed, it will only serve to reduce any chance that such players will be given a fair shot.
Defense is a different story. We really only have one player, Jack Hillen, currently on the roster who can be said to have any "upside." Apart from Mark Streit, all of the others are either over the hill or are exceedingly average at best. Radek Martinek and Bruno Gervais are especially injury prone. Moreover, the "over 30" club includes Andy Sutton (34) whose contract expires at the end of this season and Martinek (32) and Brendan Witt (34) who become free agents after next season. To complete the picture, our defensive prospects are all (to my knowledge) at least a year away if not more.
The point is that any forward brought in now will take away ice time from our developing players. The same cannot be said about defensemen. To begin with, we are one short of the standard allotment of eight defenders with Poch not being re-signed. Also most of our lost mangames due to injury have been among our defensemen. We should, if anything, be carrying one or two extra NHL-ready defenders.
Garth has said that he is reluctant to bring in veterans who will take away ice time from developing players. This is exactly the right attitude at this stage in the development of the franchise. Any players we do bring in should be between 25 to 30 years old and should, hopefully, have about ten years or so left in their careers. Even at that, we should not be looking to bring in forwards until the trade deadline at the earliest. We may expend our #1 pick on a player like Taylor Hall, Kirill Kabanov, or Teemu Pulkinnen. Also, there are about a half dozen forwards likely to be free agents next summer who will be worthy of consideration. Finally, Garth has stated that he intends to use the Isles' enormous cap space to produce advantageous trades next summer as other teams deal with a lower cap limit and their already tightly stretched cap totals.
The only players we should consider signing now are defensemen. I would start with Martin Skoula. At 29, he is a little older than I would like. In his favor, however, he has size (6'3", 226), talent, some offensive upside, and in ten years in the NHL, he has never missed more than four games in any season. That would bring us to the obligatory eight, but we should not stop there. We should also offer Carolina one of our two third round picks for RFA Anton Babchuk. He is 25, has size (6'5", 212), had 35 points and was a +13 last year. Those are numbers worthy of comparison with Mark Streit.
Adding an extra defenseman would enable Garth and Ryan to move Sutton at the deadline for either a draft pick or a younger defenseman. it would also make Gervais expendable. I suspect that Chicago is going to try to move forward Patrick Sharp at the deadline to dump salary. They will certainly be attracted by Biron's low salary and his short contract. They will also find Gervais' incredibly low ($500K) salary very appealing. And since Weight will almost certainly be moved for a pick at the deadline, trading for Sharp will not reduce the chances of any of our developing forwards for ice time.