We are one week away from the start of most Islanders fans favorite time of the off-season, the start of Unrestricted Free Agency. The Islanders have seven players that will be free to sign with other teams come July 5. (Note the new date for free agency in the latest CBA. Teams can talk with free agents on July 1, but no contracts can be signed until July 5)
I thought it would be a good idea to take a look back at the players' time on Long Island and the chances of them returning to the Islanders in 2013. Now I have never considered Tim Thomas to be an Islander and if Radek Martinek returns to the NHL in October, I'd bet the farm it would be as an Islander.
With that said, here is a look at the other five players the Islanders have headed towards a date with free agency.
Last summer Boyes signed a 1 year, $1 million contract with the Islanders looking to revive his career and prove that he could still provide offense to an NHL team.
Well no matter how many times you lost your mind and screamed at your television while watching Boyes play last year, he definitely accomplished his goal.
Playing primarily on John Tavares' wing, Boyes was fifth on the Islanders in goals (10), second in assists (25), and third in points (35). But with all that offense, Boyes had his downside as well.
The majority of it seemed to be mental. His decision making at times was quite questionable, often leading to turnovers and odd-man rushes. He was the Islanders 'Jekyll and Hyde' player, one moment making a beautiful feed to set up a goal and then the next firing a bad angle shot on the PP that ended up being as good as a defensive clear.
Some team will overpay for Boyes' service because some team will be desperate enough to need Boyes' offense. He is at best fit to play on a second line somewhere, but with a stable of young forwards on the cusp of breaking through, the price won't nearly be worth what Boyes will bring to the Islanders.
July 1st Status: Bon Voyage!
Signing a two year deal a couple summers ago, Islanders fans were promised in Reasoner an upgrade from Zenon Konopka with more offensive punch. Well for whatever reason, what we got was zero offensive punch and less actual punch than what Konopka would have brought.
The Islander crest turned out to be kryptonite to Reasoner. The center, who hadn't scored less than 4 goals in a season since the last lockout, was only able to find the back of the net once in 92 games as an Islander.
Reasoner's main contributions to the Islanders weren't found on the scoresheet, but his lack of offense compared to what he accomplished during other NHL stops, couldn't be ignored. Reasoner provided solid defense at times, decent face-off statistics, and reliable penalty killing. But with the emergence of Casey Cizikas, Reasoner soon found himself as a healthy scratch.
The Islanders seemed willing to let Reasoner go during the season, offering him around the league as trade fodder. Unfortunately for the team, there were no takers, but the writing was on the wall as far as Reasoner's future with the Islanders went.
July 1st Status: Good Riddance!
Joensuu came back for Round 2 with the Islanders last summer, but whether Jesse has really bad luck or really bad timing, his Islanders return was delayed for most of the 20
First came the lockout, then came Joensuu's myriad of injuries (hernia, groin), all contributing to only 7 games played for the big Finn.
When he finally returned to the lineup, Joensuu played decently. People will often reference the 8 shot performance he had in his 2013 debut, failing to mention that he accumulated only 7 shots over his other 6 games. Fans will remind you of the nice assist he had against the Jets, even though it was only one of two points he had all season.
Even when Joensuu tries to make an impact, he never seems to be more than just 'there'. He's not a bruiser, he's not a scorer, and he's not a defensive specialist. It would probably be in Jesse's best interest to make his way back to Europe, where he found some success prior to 2013.
July 1st Status: Goodbye and Good Luck!
One of the Waiver Four who were added to the team during training
camp week before the start of the season, Aucoin started out the season on fire, scoring 4 goals and adding an assist in the first 7 games of the season. He also won an absurd amount of face-offs during that time, topping the 80% mark in multiple games.
But then Aucoin's game started to cool and Keith found himself in the press box, a healthy scratch for three straight weeks.
When Aucoin returned he found his game again, forming an effective line with Michael Grabner and Colin McDonald. The line had continued success in the playoffs, and was part of what coach Jack Capuano at times referenced as his best line.
Aucoin is an NHL nomad, a guy who always seems to be wanted by one team but deemed expendable by another. He should be able to parlay his late season effectiveness into a one-way contract here on Long Island or elsewhere. The question becomes is he willing to be 2013-14's version of Marty Reasoner if some of the Islanders' young talent pans out and passes him by? Could he possibly find a better gig on a more needy NHL squad?
July 1st Status: The Ice is Probably Bluer Somewhere Else
When Garth Snow tolled Nabokov's contract in 2011, nobody really knew what was in store for Nabokov's Islanders future.
The Islanders got a decent season out of him in 2011-12, and he played ably in 2013, helping the team make the playoffs for the first time in 6 years.
Nabokov definitely had his ups and downs last season. He would look outstanding in net one week for the Islanders, and then the next week look like a goalie who should be nothing more than a backup at this stage of his career. His playoff performance against the Penguins was less than inspiring, posting an appalling .842 SV % over his six starts.
At 38 years old, Nabokov is an average goalie who played way more than he should have last season. Aided by a shortened season, the Islanders were able to ride Nabokov by playing him in 85% of the team's games. Being next season is 82 games long, there is no way the Islanders will be able to rely on Nabokov as heavily as they did last season.
Three weeks ago I would've told you he was a lock to return to the Islanders, but the fact that we are now a mere week away from the start of the Free Agency period and he still hasn't re-signed makes me skeptical.
July 1st Status: Could You Stay or Could You Go?
It's doubtful that Green Day will break into song or a sad montage will be played if any or all of these players have played their last game in an Islanders uniform. But a couple of them would be worth re-signing by the team, if they are being retained in the proper role. That's always an important question when it comes to the Islanders.