UPDATE: The Islanders returned Calvin de Haan to his junior club (Oshawa) and assigned waiver-exempt Matt Martin to Bridgeport. Path of least risk to all assets. If you're only now getting to this post, the rest is merely processing the options they faced today. Nino Niederreiter, the soon-to-be youngest Islander in history, spoke to media about making with the team (for now, at least).
Roster Day always fills me with such butterflies, I tend to forget that, oh by the way, the home opener is four nights away.
At this point you know the drill and the candidates, but we'll do a Cut or Keep? recap anyway and post recent links after the jump. There has been some interesting discussion in comments recently about The Plan and the Islanders' general low-budget nature in 2010-11. I don't mean to be Defender Of The Organization, but sometimes I back into that role.
Suffice to say: Given the current climate, the weak free agent market, the CBA and the meager prospect pool Garth Snow inherited, I like the direction of this team since 2007. They're building it the slow way, but it's the realistic and sustainable way.
The way to build contenders in this climate is to draft a good core and supplement in a way that remains flexible, flexible, flexible for when those core members need big free agent raises. The Islanders have that: Next summer the Islanders will have one #1 defenseman still under contract at a below-market rate, three top prospect/picks still on entry-level contracts, two more top-10 picks with RFA rights (plus two first-rounders from other teams hitting RFA), the best value Selke candidate in the league under contract, plus eight unrestricted free agents. Those UFAs represent roster and budget flexibility; the rest represent the budding core.
Whether you're a cap-ceiling team or a budget team, flexibility is your friend. The UFA market, with its long-term/high-dollar Reddens and Nylanders and Khabibulins, is the siren that take your friend away. Flirt carefully.
Ways to Trim the Roster
Today Mark Streit, Kyle Okposo and Rob Schremp will go on IR.
That leaves 26 in camp: three goalies, nine defensemen and theoretically 14 forwards (Both Matt Martin and Nino Niederreiter practiced yesterday, so their injuries should be behind them). Three players need to go. One is goalie Nathan Lawson, who will either remain injured or get his Bridgeport reassignment.
That leaves 25. Two need to go.
Sure looks like eight defensemen will be the way they start.
Easy Way: Sending Calvin de Haan back to juniors now.
Awkward Way: Involves demoting (and thus waiving) Bruno Gervais or, less likely, Milan Jurcina. The wild card is always that someone picks up a magical ouchy between now and 3 p.m. and ends up on IR. (Hey, it's happened before.)
Extreme Way: Send de Haan back AND cut a veteran one-way.
If I were boss: I want de Haan to get some NHL reps, so at this point, sorry Bruno.
Okposo and Schremp's injuries cleared the path (injuries always do), but Michael Grabner suddenly makes this one a little more interesting. Snow talks about him in a top-six candidacy and Newsday's Katie Strang even wrote to expect him to dress Opening Night. Here we go.
Easy Way: Send Nino Niederreiter back to juniors now, demote waiver-exempt Matt Martin. Alternatively: Magical Injury Bug.
Tougher Decision Way: Keep Nino for his nine games. Keep Martin for his promise. Demote and waiver-expose Jon Sim and Trevor Gillies. Middle ground: A combination of the two.
If I were boss: Then I'd know more than I know now. Maybe, "Say Matt, that foot's still hurtin', right?"
I really can't conceive of any other candidates for cutting -- which makes the "What If?" scenario all the more interesting if Okposo and Schremp were healthy. (For example, would the Isles still have claimed Grabner in that scenario? Then what?)
We should know by 3 p.m. today and possibly quite sooner. Even in this low-stakes tier of roster management, I don't envy the Isles braintrust their choices. Consider this the thread for all that.
Bits: Bridgeport Lineup, Nino the Youngest, Your Typical ESPN Hate Job
- Michael Fornabaio has the roster for Bridgeport before the Islanders' final cuts. Is it just me or does that roster look stronger than recent years. (Probably just me, or my confirmation bias at actually having seen more of these players.)
- Very cool: Forever1940 says Nino would be the youngest Islander since -- gulp -- Dave Chyzowski.
- I hope this isn't even an issue, but I fear it might be: Islanders Outsider explains why Dwayne Roloson should be named the #1.
- Joining Nino? Add another non-Ta(y)lo(e)r 2010 pick to break camp with his big club: Alexander Burmistrov is sticking with the Thrashers.
- Doug Weight talks extensively to the official site about his excitement being back, healthy, and captaining a team he plans to demand much from.
- Some of us bantered about this on Twitter the other day, but Scott Gordon's comments to Chris Botta on how there is "no comparison" of this D to previous NYI units he had were pretty entertaining. I'm inferring deliberate shots at Thomas Pock and Jamie Fraser, and I am just appalled.
- Eyes on the Isles is trying to remain upbeat despite training camp's parade of injuries.
- The Post does the P.A. Parenteau story, with a spoonful of Nino on top.
- If there is one thing more entertaining than watching the Oilers, it's reading Oilers bloggers fume about the Oilers. Edmonton is keeping three goalies in camp: One overpaid veteran with a bad back and legal troubles, and two prospects that are ... well ... not good.
- Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside had to divide up the team previews for ESPN. Guess which one we drew? And -- oh this will shock you -- guess which team he introduces by generally trashing them in vague, lamentable terms? (Is there a more forgettable and lamentable colum--? ...nevermind.)
Feel free to run with your roster schemes and news here.