Should the Islanders Claim Panthers RW Michal Repik off Waivers?

The list of NHL players exposed to waivers this month has thus far largely consisted of has-been, never-was, never-heard-of-him and don't-want-him, leading the careful observer to a mixture of meh, ennui and narcolepsy with cataplexy.

As of yet there are no Michael Grabners -- not even the pre-"OMG this guy's a Calder candidate--thanks Dale!" version. Which isn't shocking, since Michael Grabners do not grow on trees, and the inexperienced arborist often thinks he sees a Grabner when he actually sees a Robus Schrempus Hocki.

That said, after his offseason binge of four-year deals for okay forwards, Dale Tallon might be in the giving mood again; because Michal Repik is a case to consider.

I don't normally devote full posts at Lighthouse Hockey to idle speculation about second-round picks (40th overall, 2007) who've yet to play 60 games at the NHL level. But Santa Tallon only comes by once a year.

At age 22 the right-shooting Repik is a speedy, talented forward already schooled in the dark arts of defensive hockey. Where normally we expect young players to flounder in their own zone, in his limited opportunities Repik has already shown himself to be astute at moving the puck in the right direction at the NHL level. He has not had high-profile minutes -- and last year his percentage of offensive zone starts was a cruel 41.6 % [even a shade lower than yeoman Martin Reasoner's] -- yet despite that tough role his Corsi figures showed him [h/t garik16 for the link at Behind The Net] to be adept at escaping this fix his coach puts him in.

Granted that was just 31 games last season -- he's been part of the Rochester shuttle up and down and up and down -- but that's all we have, plus good powerplay performance in the AHL and all-around play during his junior days in the WHL. Repik learned the defensive side of the game at an early age under Don Hay, who isn't known as a great NHL coach but is known for teaching young players their way around their own zone.

With the Islanders' top two lines virtually set, and upgrades to the bottom six in Martin Reasoner and Brian Rolston chipping away at that offseason need, you might say the Isles have plenty at forward. But I think Repik would be an upgrade even still, and would provide options and comfort to not rush any of the prospects.

At minimum, he's a player who has already proven capable in a fourth-line role without complaint, with the bonus of some offensive talent when given the opportunity. Maybe he makes the fourth line dangerous, or maybe he steals work on the third line and adds spice to Josh Bailey and/or Blake Comeau. He scored the other night in preseason (off Dwayne Roloson), but gosh darn it Dale Tallon's chest is already filled with higher-dollar sumer signings.

If claimed by the Islanders, Řepik would also fill the all-important Czech quota* that was left vacant with the departure of Radek Martinek.

*Might only be important to yours truly

Will this happen? Probably not. Four [correction: three. The other is Florida itself] other teams can put a higher-ranking claim on Repik. And the Islanders, even if you exclude veteran tryout Jay Pandolfo, have a crowd of aspiring forwards that is made more complicated by the three-goalie situation that presumably will survive the cut to 23 opening-night players. Matt Martin or Micheal Haley could be sent down without waivers, but chances are the team will want one if not two of those fight-capable guys or maybe even Trevor Gillies around. If Nino Niederreiter makes the roster you see the crowd here, barring injury.

That said, I'd do it. I'd grab another young guy with demonstrated competence and talented upside. I'd continue to build young, talented forward depth and dip into the older veteran AHLer pool signed this summer as the situation warrants. I'd go into the season confident that my fourth line is fully operational, in need of no severe sheltering like in years past.

And come December and January when injuries pile up, ho ho ho I'd thank Dale Tallon once again.

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