The Islanders made a number of signings today. None were considered major, but I think a few could be real asset in next year's campaign. Let's quickly go over some of their statistics, both fancy and otherwise, to see what we have here.
Conacher's had a real roller coaster of a last three years. An undrafted college free agent signed by Tampa, Conacher exploded in the AHL in 2011-2012, with 39 goals and 41 assists in his first full AHL season. During the lockout, he had 12 goals and 16 assists in 38 games, prompting a call up once the NHL began. Overall, Conacher managed to shoot 18% in 305 shots, which is ridiculous and was obviously due for regression. (On the other hand, 305 shots over 1.5 seasons is pretty good).
In the NHL, Conacher continued his high shooting % ways with Tampa and for Ottawa during the lockout season, with an 11-18-29 season on 47 games, on 16.4% shooting. This past year, Ottawa waived him and Buffalo refused to qualify Conacher after he only put up 7-19-26 in 279 games played. Unsurprisingly, his shooting % collapsed to 6.9%.
In short, we should expect a positive regression from Conacher to at least a 10% shooting % (his career NHL # is 10.8% and obviously his AHL #s suggest he can do at least that high or higher, but with this small a sample, I err on the small side and go with #s closer to league average). In short, there's no reason we shouldn't expect at least a 30 point season out of Conacher if he gets a full season, with probably around 10-15 goals. That's at least a decent 3rd liner.
In addition, Conacher's possession #s look pretty solid. He's been sheltered each of the last two years, with around 55% zone starts (which is really sheltering compared to the rest of the Sabres) and wound up even in possession relative to his team. In short, he's not driving possession forward. But in a sheltered environment, he's not harming the team either.
In sum, Conacher seems like an ideal third liner - able to be a little sheltered and put up a decent goal and assist total. I'd like to see him on Strome's wing on a line with some minor sheltering. I think that'd work really well.
TJ Brennan is an offense first D Man. And we really mean offense first - he was fourth in the AHL in scoring with 72 points (and 25 goals) in 76 games. And I mean fourth amongst all skaters, including forwards. He's got AHL offense down tight.
His two small tours in the NHL have had more mixed offensive results: Only 2 goals and 0 assists in 22 games over two seasons with the Sabres, but he managed 2-7-9 in 19 games with the Panthers. That's a good rate for a D man, and I'd bet he can be pretty productive point wise in the NHL given power play time and sheltering in the NHL.
The real question is whether he's too much of a defensive liability. I don't think that's the case - in his two seasons, he's been positive possession player with heavy sheltering. If he can play on a very sheltered and offensive based pairing (God forbid he team up with Donovan, right?) , he could be a real asset to this team - though it will require 3-44 and 14-11 to take up a bigger defensive role.
Ladies and Gentlemen, meet your backup goalie. Johnson has a .926 (amazing) on 37 NHL games in 962 shots, 27 of which were with the Bruins last year. Those #s are really good. So is he a clear solution to our backup goalie problem?
Well...maybe. Leaving aside some people's thoughts his #s are mainly the product of something being done by the Bruins system - people thought that about Anton Khudobin too, but Khudobin was great for Carolina last year - Johnson has very mediocre #s in 4 AHL seasons - he's a .9094 AHL goalie through 4713 AHL shots. Even combining his AHL and NHL #s results in him with a career # of .912 (which would be average for the NHL, but remember 4/5 of that is in the AHL).
Maybe Johnson figured it out last year? I'm not convinced. .9094 in the AHL is actually worse than Poulin's career #s.
That said, Johnson does have more NHL success than Poulin ever did, so there' s that. And if he doesn't work, well we then have this guy:
In my goalie post before the Isles acquired Halak, I argued the Isles should go after Drew MacIntyre as a 3rd goalie who was an AHL veteran who could at worst be a #1 in Bridgeport. MacIntyre (.919 career AHL #s) signed with Carolina, but Leggio is basically a similar guy - he has a .9175 on 6248 AHL shots over the last 4 years (Better by far than Johnson) Leggio's also two years younger than MacIntyre, so less likely to lose it due to age.
At best, Leggio drastically improves the Bridge's goaltending, which should be nice to our top 3 D prospects who should debut in the A next season. At worst, there's a good chance he's a decent backup goalie if Johnson should fail or get injured. This is a really good signing.
Zolniercyk is not an NHL player. Gets whooped in possession when on the ice (though he's never had easy minutes) and doesn't provide many points (he managed 18-18-36 in the A this season in 57 games, but that's about it.). He should be nothing more than AHL depth. At all.
Skille's at best a 4th liner. He hasn't scored much at the NHL level, and he's always been at least a slight negative on possession, usually in slightly worse than average minutes. Course he had easier than average minutes this past season and still was below water for CBJ. He can score in the AHL but if he's in the NHL, something has gone wrong.