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Cizikas Next? Anders Nilsson contract brings 2009 Islanders draft class closer

Big man in the crease.
Big man in the crease.

Anders Nilsson's signing of an entry level contract [earlier fanshot discussion here] means the Islanders 2009 draft class is almost completely in the fold, with two notable exceptions:

  • "The Other Anders" Lee, who just finished his first year at Notre Dame and thus his rights are in no danger (though the Wheeler/Gregoire loophole could apply if he leaves college two years from now);
  • and Casey Cizikas, who is busy tonight and hopefully Sunday with the on-going Memorial Cup.

If terms aren't reached with Cizikas before June 1, that doesn't mean he gets to be a free agent the way NCAA defector Jason Gregoire does. The best he could do is re-enter the draft (or, if not drafted, become a free agent). All that would do is throw his future open to the next team to draft him, which doesn't sound like a solid plan. Expect an announcement by Wednesday -- unless for some reason the Islanders' interest in this prospect waned. (Cizikas was quoted as saying he's "not too sure" why he hasn't signed yet, but that his focus is on the Memorial Cup. Note that quote comes from a Sun publication with its obligatory pot shot, so...)

For you un-Americans (I kid), you might not know this is a holiday weekend in the U.S. (Actually, it may also be a holiday in your country, but Americans are taught not to care what happens in other countries. I kid again. A little.) Monday is Memorial Day, but there's still time before June 1.

So while Cizikas' current play for Mississauga and his Islanders future can be a backdrop to your weekend, this post needs a little more Anders.


Another Really Big Goalie

Nilsson, who was younger than Mikko Koskinen in that 2009 draft (and still younger now, funny how that works), may end up being the better goalie. Not quite as giant as Mikko but still giant, 6'5", 220-pound Anders Nilsson had a pretty outstanding year with Luleå in Sweden. In 31 games he put up a 918 save percentage and a 1.92 GAA. That GAA was tops in the SEL, though the more important save percentage ranked him sixth, behind at least one notable prospect in Chicago's Alexander Salak (.926).

However, the other Luleå goalie, 25-year-old David Rautio, registered just 2.16 and .904 in 24 games. So while goalies are still really tough to grasp and these stats in small samples are dangerous, those numbers are a positive sign for Nilsson.

(Former Islanders prospect Stefan Ridderwall registered 2.80 and .901 in 24 games, by the way.)

As is occasionally discussed, the Islanders had to sign Nilsson by June 1 or lose him (like Ridderwall), but that doesn't mean he has to come over to North America. They could theoretically loan him back to a Swedish club.

The more likely scenario If not, they'd be entering training camp with Al Montoya, Rick DiPietro, Kevin Poulin, Mikko Koskinen and Nilsson in the fold. That's a crowd, but of course two of those players are coming off surgeries, and a third has rehabbed various injuries for the past two-plus seasons. [Note: I see people saying it's already been discussed to loan him back, so I may have missed that if it's true.]

In this world, you're throwing darts trying to find goalies who are both good and healthy. Here's hoping Nilsson...{knock on wood}.


2009 Islanders Draft Class

In case you've forgotten any of them, that class is:

1 (1st) John Tavares
1 (12) Calvin de Haan
2 (31) Koskinen
3 (62) Nilsson
4 (92) Cizikas
5 (122) Anton Klementyev
6 (152) Anders Lee