I think we're all resigned to the probability that the Isles won't make much of a splash in the free agent market this year (in part because there isn't a whole lot of water to make waves in).
But let's imagine a series of events that draw free agents to the Island like Pronger to game-winning pucks. John Tavares breaks out for 100 points and becomes a guy everyone in the league wants to play with. Mighty Matt goes for 50. The Isles make the playoffs and advance a round before falling in 7 to the defending champions, Tampa Bay. The league is abuzz, hyping the Islanders' future, and this reaches a crescendo when Computer Associates is acquire by Apple and Wang throws in the Islanders as a deal sweetener. Steve Jobs declares the Islanders a "magical team" and directs all company revenue toward the Islanders and suddenly the challenge is to stay under the cap ceiling, rather than crawl up to the floor.
So who you gonna sign?
Here are the capgeek list for fowards and defensemen. This list is more appealing than this year's since teams haven't yet extended guys that they likely will, but for fun let's pick one off each list.
One assumption-the Isles will resign any of their own players that they want. So no need to include, for example, Frans. Obviously we resign him, lest we risk the wrath of the gods of Valhalla.
Personally, I'm leaning toward guys who will be 30 or under so they can contribute for a few years.
On the defensive side of things, part of me likes the idea of bringing in Dennis Wideman. Right-handed puck mover with a cannon of a shot. Would be good on the power play. But he's pretty limited defensively, and that's why I think ultimately I'd go after Ryan Suter. Provides a guy to take the reins from Streit as the #1 blueliner, and really there's not a whole lot to not like about his game.
The forwards is a little tougher. Obviously the name that jumps out is Alexander Semin, but I really don't like his game a whole lot when he's not scoring goals. This year's playoffs is a great example of how he fades in and out of games far too easily. Instead I think I go for Patrick Sharp who can bring Cup-winning experience as well as a few 30 goal seasons along with him.
So who do you want to see in the blue and orange on Opening Night 2012 after you pick up your fan-appreciation Ipad at the gate?