Your Rotating Door at Backup Goalie

There is probably some sort of irony involved in the Islanders' inability to keep a steady backup goalie since the lockout. Especially since the last multiple year backup for the Islanders is former goalie turned GM Garth Snow. With the Rangers signing of Marty Biron it is assured that the Islanders will have a new backup goalie when the season starts. Now as with any backup position in sports, it's value can be debated. That is until your franchise goalie has bad hips and you have two AHL at best goalies waiting in the wings to take over. Even this past season saw the Hurricanes and Oilers struggle when their starting goalies went down for stretches.

While it is still possible to get a surprise late signing like Biron's last year, the goalie market is rather thin. Whoever gets signed would have to understand that the Islanders could possibly have a three way platoon if Rick DiPietro is healthy and stays healthy. Current UFA Goalies include Vesa Toskala, Marty Turco, Jose Theodore and Islander re-treads Stephen Valiquette and Yann Danis. Ray Emery is rumored to be considering retirement due to health reasons. As it stands currently,  Nathan Lawson is entering the season as Dwayne Roloson's backup, depending on DP's health.

So who have been the Islanders backups since the lockout?

Garth Snow

Acquired: UFA Signing
Reason for Leaving: Injury finished his career and he was kicked upstairs
Season Stats: (For 05-06) 20 GP 4 W 13 L 1 OTL 3.72 GAA .886 SV%

Snow is the last goalie to have multiple seasons as a backup, He actually had the best year of his career as an Islander in 02-03 while posting a 2.31 GAA and .918 Sv%. Snow had everything you could want in a backup, experience in both the regular season and the playoffs, time as both backup and starter and finally was a former Nordique.

Mike Dunham

Acquired: UFA Signing
Reason for Leaving: Injuries and was promoted to the teams Goalie Coach
Season Stats: 19 GP 4 W 10 L 3 OTL 3.74 GAA .889 SV%

Although Dunham had a history of injuries, the Islanders might have hoped that a light workload would allow the 34 year old to extend his career. Outplayed by Wade Dubielewicz, the writing was on the wall. He retired to join the Islanders coaching staff as the Goaltending Coach, a position he holds to this day. When both DP and MacDonald were hurt, he toyed with the idea of signing an emergency two-week contract to play backup while Snow tried to bring someone in.


Wade Dubielewicz

#31 / Goalie / Minnesota Wild

5-10

185

Jan 30, 1979


Acquired: UFA
Reason For Leaving: Disagreement between Agent and GM Snow
Season Stats: 20 GP 9 W 9 L 1 OTL 2.70 GAA .919 SV%

After a few years of scratching at the NHL door, Dubie finally made his big push to make the NHL with his infamous 4 game winning streak to get the Islanders into the playoffs in 06-07. He began 07-08 as backup to DP until an All Star Game which no Islanders fan can ever forget. Although the Islanders faded down the stretch, Dubie could hardly be blamed for it as he still put up respectable numbers on the year. The decision to not bring back Dubie the following year would have far reaching consequences for the Islanders.


Joey MacDonald

#0 / Goalie / Detroit Red Wings

6-0

197

Feb 07, 1980


Acquired: UFA
Reason For Leaving: Islanders signed Rollie/Biron, he was a UFA
Season Stats: 49 GP 14 W 26 L 6 OTL 3.37 GAA .901 SV%

Those consequences included career third stringer Joey MacDonald moving up into the backup role. Eventually he took over the starters role by default (woooo, default, my two favorite words in the English language) and Yann Danis moved into the backup position. It would be unfair to put all the Islanders struggles that year at MacDonald's feet, but I can't think of many teams that wouldn't rather see him playing for their AHL team then their NHL team.


Yann Danis

#35 / Goalie / New Jersey Devils

6-0

185

Jun 21, 1981


Acquired: UFA
Reason For Leaving: Islanders signed Rollie/Biron, he was a UFA
Season Stats: 31 GP 10 W 17 L 3 OTL 2.86 GAA .910 SV%

Although Danis struggled in early appearances and after MacDonald's injury Snow attempted to bring back Dubie, Danis was a pleasant surprise. At least that tells you how horrible the 08-09 year was for the Islanders. Some people were even surprised when the Islanders didn't bring him back. Last season he got paid to sit on the Devils bench and watch almost every game. Currently unsigned, it wouldn't be surprising if the Islanders brought him back in case Lawson struggles.


Martin Biron

#0 / Goalie / Short Island Smurfs

6-3

180

Aug 15, 1977


Acquired: UFA
Reason For Leaving: UFA
Season Stats: 29 GP 9 W 14 L 4 OTL 3.27 GAA .896 SV%

Coming off two of the best years of his career as a Flyer, including a run to the conference finals, Biron expected a big raise. Instead he ended up scrambling to find a job and signed with the Islanders with the intent to platoon with Rollie. Biron instead struggled as Rollie ran away with the starters job. He went months between starts as the Islanders tried to work DP back into the lineup. An all around team guy (considering he never complained) and a great interview, he will be missed.


Nathan Lawson

#52 / Goalie / New York Islanders

6-2

191

Sep 29, 1983


Acquired: UFA
Reason For Leaving:
Season Stats:

The current backup for the 2010-11 season, Lawson is one of those players you can't help but cheer for. Undrafted, Lawson started for three years at University of Alaska - Anchorage (a teammate of blogger Justin Bourne) before spending two seasons in the ECHL. He was actually signed directly by Bridgeport until last March when the Islanders signed him to a two-way deal. Not surprisingly, this might be the only season the 27 year old Lawson gets a chance to show what he can do in the NHL as Mikko Koskinen is right on his tail.

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