One day every summer, Garth Snow must have a dream that he is guest starring on The History Channel's hit show, "American Pickers." Because when he wakes up, dreams and reality intertwine and Snow goes out and ponies up a little bit of money on a Unrestricted Free Agent who has little NHL experience, but has shown promise in the AHL.
2009's episode brought us Matt Moulson. 2010 landed the Islanders P.A. Parenteau. While 2011's attempts (Trevor Frischmon, Tim Wallace) didn't pan out, Snow redeemed himself in 2012 when he signed last season's surprise, Colin McDonald.
So what will Snow have up his sleeve this summer? Could this year's diamond in the rough be a goaltender?
It's getting to the point where it may have to be. Since Dom last discussed the Islanders goalie search, another free agent option (Mike Smith) has signed a hefty contract with his former club, joining Niklas Backstrom as FA goalies you can cross off the Isles wish list. Two of the better trade options (Jonathan Bernier, Cory Schneider) are also gone, headed to other Eastern Conference teams.
The prospects of bringing Evgeni Nabokov back are still good. But with the two sides close, but not close, anything can happen once Nabokov hits the FA market. Our worst nightmare, a return of Rick DiPietro, was thankfully dismissed when the team announced they would buyout the remainder of his contract.
The most impressive free agents left (Ilya Bryzgalov, Ray Emery, Tim Thomas) aren't all that impressive. A few possible trade targets (Ryan Miller, Jonas Hiller, Jaroslav Halak) are all under contract for only one more season. If Snow was unwilling to trade Nino Niederreiter and the 15th overall pick for Schneider (as some have suggested), you'd surmise he wouldn't be willing to meet the asking price for any of those goalies.
So where does that leave the Islanders in their search for a starting goaltender? In trouble if you ask me. But it is completely possible that Snow may have a lesser known available goalie in his sights when the free agent signing period starts Friday.
It wouldn't be out of character for Snow to swing for the fences on an unknown. And while taking that risk in the crease is a lot riskier than taking it on a forward, it's a risk Snow may be willing, and forced, to take.
The first name that comes to mind is Anton Khudobin. Khudobin's numbers in the AHL were sketchy up until two seasons ago , when he had a .919 Save % in 44 games at Providence. His numbers in 21 NHL games (SMALL SAMPLE SIZE!) have been better, posting a .933 Save %. A red flag may be his Even Strength Save %, where his less than stellar .916% last year was the same as Nabokov's.
Three of the AHL's top 10 goalies in Save % last season are unrestricted free agents. But all three (Daniel Taylor, David Leggio, Mike McKenna) sport little to no NHL experience and all come with their own question marks.
So there are options out there if Snow wants to take a chance in goal on a relative unknown. He has had success signing these kind of players before, but rolling the dice on a position as important as goaltender may not be the best idea.
He may want to wait on acquiring a goaltender until the next time he dreams he's a contestant on "Let's Make a Deal."