[Editor's note: This is a FanPost we can probably chew on for several weeks. Thanks for doing the legwork, mdelbags.]
I apologize for jumping the gun on this but I'm a teacher and have been giving standardized tests all week, so I've had a lot of down time to day dream...I figured I might as well pass the time by playing Isles GM and take a peek at every available UFA for this summer. We already have a resident Draft expert in BCISLESMAN...so I'm applying for the UFA job.
I started out just printing out a list of all the players set to become unrestricted free agents (nhlnumbers.com) at the end of this season. I then constructed a list of players that I would like for the Isles to attempt to sign. That list was way too long to make any sense of so I created another list attempting to target players that may fit a need that the Isles will have this summer going into next season. I broke the needs into separate categories in order from most pressing to least and numbered the players based on my preferences. When selecting players I tried to keep age and salary in mind. I tried to stay away from players well into their 30's unless the need was for a veteran and steered clear of the obvious All-stars (there are no Kovalchuks, Marleaus, Lidstroms or Nabokovs here). That type of player just doesn't seem to make any sense for where we are in our rebuild.
Please correct any misconceptions or misplacements I have made as I'm sure there may be quite a few. Who did I forget...who should I have omitted?
I am in no way suggesting that the Isles should try for every player below, but I do feel like Garth should at least attempt to sign one player from each category.
This is also assuming that the players below all want to come here (why wouldn't they?) and will not be resigned by their own team prior to becoming a free agent (small assumptions I know).
Parenthesis show current ages and this season's salary in millions according to nhlnumbers.com
Solid stay at home shut-down D-man
It seems that most of us agree that the Isles D need a very quick upgrade and although I know we have many young prospects that we hope will fill those spots soon, this can never be counted on. A tough, mean shot blocker and crease clearer that can play big PK minutes(Witt before he began to decline) will help the Isles in so many ways that to me, this is the most important need.
- Anton Volchenkov: (27; 3.2) His agent should probably be the first guy that Garth calls on day 1 of free agency. The question is how far above his current 3.2 mil salary should we go?
- Willie Mitchell: (32; 3.5) He's a bit expensive making 3.5 mil this season but he fits all the above attributes (and he can skate!)
- Jay McKee: (31; 0.800)
- Jason Strudwick: (33; .700)
- Paul Mara: (29; 1.675)
- Nick Boynton: ( 32; 1.5)
- Milan Jurcina (26; 1.375) Maybe the perfect pick-up after we're out-bid for Volchenkov
Back-up/ 1B goaltender
Who knows what's going to happen to DP but I'm ready to move on. Yes we've got some solid looking prospects but for the sake of next year we'll need at least a competent back-up for Rollie if the Isles and Biron decide to part ways. So why not give a guy a (or another) chance that at one time was the future of some other teams' goalie plans?
- Dan Ellis: (29; 2 mil)
- Chris Mason: (33; 3 mil)
- Peter Budaj: (28; 1.250)
- Curtis Sanford: (29; 0.600)
Yes back to the defense. Even if we sign a player from the first group we'll still need another puck mover. For this category I tried to focus on guys who seem to be just on the cusp of making a big step who also had reasonably small paychecks this season and wouldn't require much of a raise (or we can just resign Freddy Meyer IV...not that there's anything wrong with that....seriously).
- Kurtis Foster: (27; 0.600) I wanted the Isles to grab this guy last summer but Tampa got him for a song. He plays in every situation, including the powerplay and he can be physical as well.
- Zbynek Michalek: (26; 1.5)
- Jordan Leopold: (28; 1.750)
- Dennis Seidenberg: (27; 2.250)
- Carlo Colaiacovo: (26; 1.4)
(bonus points for having a mean streak)
The fact that the Isles seem to get pushed around alot and very rarly initiate the pushing has been discussed quite a bit lately. Maybe we need to add a player or two that plays the game (not a goon) on the edge. Or how about a player that just really annoys players on the other team (you know like Jon Sim only...effective).
- Raffi Torres: (27; 2.75) former isles draft pick is just entering his prime...he's got playoff experience and he plays the game with a snarl.
- Matt Cooke: (30; 1.200) I hate when the Isles play him but I'd love him if he were an Islander.
- Fernando Pisani: (32; 2.500) I was suprised to see he only had 14 PIM last season. He always struck me as a hard skating grinder but maybe he doesn't belong in this section.
- Arron Asham: (31; .640) I actually hated this guy when he was on the Islanders for taking so many dumb penalties but he meets the criteria and he plays RW
Veteran Two-way Forwards
(bonus points for being willing to mentor the kids)
If the Isles don't re-sign either Weight or Park there will be a big need for some veterans that can help on the ice as well as the locker room. A guy that can play 3rd or 4th line minutes and help out on the PK would be key.
- Jere Lehtinen: (36; 1.5) To me he would instantly help our struggling PK as well as provide team oriented leadership
- John Madden (36; 2.750) This guy always seemed like a tool to me but perhaps it was just because he was a Devil for so long
- Manny Malhotra (29; .700) Good salary, good rep as a team guya and good faceoff numbers
- Jeff Halpern (33; 2.0)
- Glen Metropolit (35; 1.0)
- Scott Nichol (34; 0.750) Did you see that hit on the Colorodo d-man in the playoffs?
(only if they are good team guys)
With Martin and Joesnuu having a good shot at making the squad next season this may not be much of a need but if Sim, Tambi, Weight, and Park all don't return then we may have a need for some depth at F.
- Adam Burish (26; .725)
- Eric Nystrom (26; .775)
- Colby Armstrong (26; 2.4) this guy always seemed to me like he should be an Islander.
- Chris Higgins (26; 2.250) will have to take a pay cut but he still has potential
- Brandon Bochenski (27; .550)
- Ryan Vesce (27; .550)
Depth on Defense
(aka please take Gervais' roster spot)
This may not be necessary as well but there were some interesting d-men that didn't make it to the above lists so here they will go. Sign one of these guys and who knows maybe we'll get another Martinek...umm but without all the injuries.
- Sheldon Brookbank (28 .550)
- Christoph Schubert (27 .900)
- Aaron Johnson (26; .540) didn't realize he was still so young
- Lukas Krajicek (26; .700)
Ok, so that's my stab at being Garth Snow...