UNIONDALE, N.Y. (Lighthouse Press) _ As the NHL nears its free agency period, New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow plans to augment his young roster frugally by using the coupons he's been clipping and organizing for the last few months.
"I've said all along that we won't overpay for free agents," Snow told season ticket holders at an exclusive town hall meeting at Nassau Coliseum. "We're looking at a lot of players, but the price has to be right for us. Fortunately, with these coupons, I can get quality free agents for a fraction of the cost."
Holding up two ringed binders bursting with sleeved pages, Snow detailed his exact method for using coupons, rebates and sales to find a bargain. The combination of arithmetic and careful planning can really save you thousands, if not millions of dollars at the free agent checkout line, according to Snow.
"For example, last summer I had a coupon for a million dollars off any free agent goon, plus a BOGO (buy-one-get-one free) coupon for all players 6'0" or under. I also had a store coupon for $1 million off a $3 million order. And the opening weekend of free agency is always half off on all generic brand players.
"I was able to combine those offers and sign Brad Boyes, Matt Carkner, Colin McDonald and Eric Boulton - a total of about $3 million - for just $25. That's a savings of 99.9999 percent. I have no idea why more teams don't use their coupons."
Snow has been clipping coupons for about 18 months and is proud of how he's used them to add to his team's stockpile of young talent. He's very well-versed in all the tips and tricks, such as buying in bulk and waiting until the right moment to maximize his savings.
"Timing is everything, but so its being prepared," Snow said. "This past January, I used two two-for-one waiver coupons I had saved on four players - Thomas Hickey, Brian Strait, Keith Aucoin and Joe Finley. I also had a manufacturers coupon for half off, plus an instant rebate for another million. So those four players cost us nothing. Totally free."
In an ironic twist, Snow collects extra coupons from his Atlantic Division rivals to add to his own collection.
"The other guys send me their coupons because I'm always badgering them," he said. "Homer [Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren] and Slats [Rangers GM Glen Sather] just throw theirs away all the time. If they're not gonna use them, I will. Lou [New Jersey GM Lou Lamoriello] says he's too proud to use coupons, which I think is silly. But that's totally Lou.
"[Pittsburgh GM Ray] Shero says he doesn't care, but he's been asking me couponing questions lately, so I think he may be about ready to get with the program."
Snow won't say what free agents are on his radar this off-season, but it's clear his intent is to find goaltending help. Starter Evgeni Nabokov may not return, leaving the Islanders with untested prospects Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson to share the crease if another goalie isn't brought in.
But just because it's a high-priority, doesn't mean Snow is just going to throw money around.
"The player and the dollar amount need to be right for us," he said. "But I do have some coupons here for $500,000 off any goalie when you buy a 36-ounce bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce. To tell you the truth, I don't even like barbecue sauce. But if I can save some money on a goalie, I'll buy a half dozen cases of the stuff."
At the NHL Entry Draft on Sunday, the Islanders traded prospect Nino Niederreiter to Minnesota for scrappy forward Cal Clutterbuck, who is a restricted free agent. Although Snow wouldn't talk about the upcoming negotiations, he did say he planned on speaking with Clutterbuck's agent about whether or not they accept double coupons.
This is a satire. For the record, throwing money at the wrong player isn't a solution. So I hope Garth gets the right guys, no matter how much they cost.