Playoffs, Penguins, Prospects & Prodigals: Pivotal weekend for New York Islanders

Two more years. - Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

On the last weekend of March 2013, the New York Islanders franchise approaches some key mileposts in its rebuild.

In the excitement of the moment it's easy to inflate the importance of good news, but here we are: The New York Islanders have re-signed one of their top defensemen, in a move many thought impossible because it would jeopardize their formulaic power ranking quips at the expense of the franchise.

So Lubomir Visnovsky is in the fold for two more years, not at a cheap price ($9.5 million, per Newsday) but not at a crippling term either. Our readers rejoiced here. Once thought to be a prodigal figure, it turns out he just wanted to feel at home.

Yet that's just the beginning. Today the Islanders face the steamrolling Pittsburgh Penguins at 1 p.m. in an attempt to end the Pens' 14-game win streak and boost their own playoff aspirations which have them just outside of eighth (and tied on points) heading into tonight.

Further down the organization, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers -- they of the 93 fighting majors, one short of the franchise record -- resume their own playoff push Saturday night under considerably more dire circumstances. John Persson is expected back in the lineup, after practicing on a line with Kirill Kabanov and Johan Sundstrom.

The Sound Tigers may yet have further reinforcements on the horizon...

Prospects' Seasons End

Namely, in the OHL both Ryan Strome (Niagara IceDogs) and Andrei Pedan (Guelph Storm) saw their seasons end last night. Strome is already signed to an ELC, while a contract for Pedan is expected at anytime. They could be assigned to Bridgeport soon. They definitely know their junior careers are over:

(Pedan's Twitter feed was overflowing with well wishes Friday night.)

Elsewhere, Brenden Kichton's Spokane team is up 3-1 in their series, while Griffin Reinhart's Edmonton squad rolled through their opening round series with Kootenay.

Strome and Pedan weren't the only two prospects to have their seasons end last night. Denver University sophomore Scott Mayfield suffered a 5-2 loss to UNH in Manchester last night, and there is some thought that he might get a pro offer from the Isles.

And today Notre Dame plays their regional, where they are favored but where a loss could mean the end of Anders Lee's career.

Finally, to follow up on the Visnovsky signing, there was this from John Shannon of Sportsnet:

If the Isles somehow break Pittsburgh's streak tonight and if other results break in their favor, their playoff aspirations will appear brighter still.

But either way, it's a big weekend on multiple levels for the organization. It continues Monday and Tuesday night with their last two games before the trade deadline. At the rate they're going, forecasts of them standing pat are looking pretty prescient.

FIG Picks

With big news Friday night and an early game today, no proper preview. The Pens have added Brenden Morrow, Douglas Murray and Jarome Iginla since we last saw them. Otherwise, you know what they are.

Leave your First Islanders Goal picks in this thread.

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