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Flirting with Satan: The case against re-embracing Miro

I liked Miroslav Satan as a Sabre. I liked him as a productive Islander. I was happy to see him pick up a Stanley Cup ring this past spring. But the Islanders have no business treading in these declining veterans' waters, unless it's to listen for another cheap veteran bargain and subtly send a message to RFA Blake Comeau that uncertain scoring wingers do, in fact, grow on trees.

Satan's last 30-goal season (35 total) was his first on Long Island, when 17 came on the power play. His last 20-goal season was before his knee injury -- which he admirably played through -- and before Ted Nolan miscast him on the power play as a point man rather than in his favored down-low position. Though he lifted the Cup after returning for the playoffs with the Penguins this year, he spent the post-trade-deadline part of the regular season in the AHL so that the Pens could make salary cap room for fellow declining ex-Islander Billy Guerin.

Whether it's the knee injury after-effects or simply the expected decline that comes with age (those are hardly unrelated, but he turns 35 in October), Satan has simply been in steady decline the last four years. As a veteran winger who needs ice time (and forgiveness for defensive lapses) to produce, he simply doesn't fit the Islanders rebuild. I see an Islanders power play of Tavares/Okposo/Bailey + Streit/Weight, and that doesn't leave room for the ice time Satan surely needs to succeed.

But that doesn't mean GM Garth Snow shouldn't listen...

Miro Satan
2005-06 (NYI)
82 35 31 66 -8 54 17 0 2 19:10 253 13.8
2006-07 (NYI) 81 27 32 59 -12 46 7 1 2 18:35 216 12.5
2007-08 (NYI) 80 16 25 41 -11 39 5 0 4 18:19 171 9.4
2008-09 (PIT) 65 17 19 36 3 36 6 0 2 15:45 120 14.2

The fact that "news" of the Islanders' negotiations with Satan came straight from his agent's mouth -- via Twitter, no less -- tells me the agent is now desperate to build interest, and that Satan is in a very weak bargaining position to secure an NHL job. Agent Allan Walsh is a progressive new media user, so hey, he's just keeping with the times. But your agent could be a cuddly pussycat and I'm still going to rightly view his public comments with a healthy degree of skepticism (to say nothing of my fear he just wants to use my lap for a litter box stand-in).

So for Satan, it seems, it's no longer about money; it's about getting a guaranteed gig on these shores rather than trudging to Slovakia (where Ziggy Palffy is still scoring and quite happy, actually) or the KHL. That's why the hardly-Cup candidate Islanders are in the picture for this recent Cup winner.

That's not criticism -- it's just the facts of life in today's NHL. Never a two-way workhorse, Satan has reached the point in his career where his diminishing finishing skills can no longer draw even mid-level dollar. When a first-liner with liabilities no longer produces like a first-liner, suddenly the importance of those liabilities grows. So if Satan and his agent are offering his services to the Islanders for something quite cheap (say $1.5 million or less), I'm fine with Garth Snow taking the flier. The Isles still need scoring, and who knows? Maybe they catch lightning in a bottle.

But Satan's recent years reflect a sniper in decline, and without a physical or defensive side to his game (to be fair, he was hardly the worst 5-on-5 Penguin forward), that's not a profile that's worth much in today's NHL.

(In truth, more than anything I want SATAN 81 to be in a Devils jersey at some point before he calls it quits, in accordance with the prophecies and the wishes of jersey hounds.)