From a remote cabin deep in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Hockey Night in Canada's Elliotte Friedman launched his final 30 Thoughts column of the season this afternoon. The super-sized communique (54 Thoughts!) was transmitted via radio waves from Friedman's high-powered antenna, picked up by the SETI Insititute and decoded for the masses to parse through and think about.
Within the intelligence - buried a mile below a bunch of notes about the Washington Capitals- are a few quatrains about the Islanders and their offseason additions (and one non-addition). Some of it was known to us here and some is new. In either case, it's good to see the team make the official record, as Friedman is basically the embodiment of it.
Things start out ominously, however, with the reiteration of some info we heard from Arthur Staple back on July 1.
15. The Islanders were prepared to give Jarome Iginla four years.
Woof, that's still a lotta years. I love Iginla just as much as the next 2000's era fan, but at 37, four years is big commitment. I'm going to go ahead and assume it came with some kind of assistant coach/retirement plan as part of the sales job. Iginla ended up signing for three years and $16 million with the Avalanche in what might end up being a minor blessing for the Islanders.
Next, Friedman caught up with Islanders coach Jack Capuano, most likely by tracking down Cappy's fishing boat off Martha's Vineyard using a submersible Friedgemarine vessel. First, Capuano talks about some strategies for next year both new and comforting.
16. Isles coach Jack Capuano is spending his summer working on structural adjustments to the team's penalty kill, which was 29th. "We're going to change the way we forecheck on it, and, when the puck is in our zone, we're going to pressure differently."
17. With a glut of centres, Capuano said that Brock Nelson is going to get a shot at the wing with John Tavares (who is skating again) and Kyle Okposo. Nelson played with them on the power play and spent time on the wing at the world championships. Frans Nielsen is not switching positions. "Frans is one of the smartest players in hockey. And he thinks the game as a centre."
Yes, improving on some bad penalty killing is a good idea. Although it seems like the signing of Jaroslav Halak may have already done that.
The bit on Nelson is somewhat expected given his performance last season and also creates a new basis for the rosterbaters to start from. Also, to paraphrase a popular model of protocol droid, how about a new rule: just let The Frans win.
Moving on to the Islanders actual big signings, Chris Johnston's story on Nikolai Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski's combo value meal said in no uncertain terms that Capuano "assured" the pair that they would be playing together. While Capuano backed off a little with Friedman, he did so in such a way that might change how the team's coaching staff and brain trust are perceived by evoking the dreaded "advanced stats." [cue soap opera organ chord]
18. As for Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin, Capuano did not promise that they would be united, "But, we do know what the advanced stats say about them together." (Hint: they are good.) He added that Calvin de Haan is a going to get a long look as Travis Hamonic's full-time partner.
Hey, didn't I just say this?
19. Here's the question Capuano can't answer, but is very hopeful about. New York's three goalies combined for an .898 save percentage last season, which just won't do. If Jaroslav Halak and Chad Johnson play to their career averages (.918 and .926, respectively), how many more points is that worth?
Finally, Friedman wades gingerly into the possible Islanders sale that fans have been... a little preoccupied with for the last few months.
20. It's difficult to know for sure, but word last week was the sale from Charles Wang to Andrew Barroway hit a snag. What's uncertain is if it means there will be no sale, or if there will be no sale to this particular buyer. Whatever the case, things are a little cloudier than expected.
All joking aside, the entirety of the column is more than worth the time as it always is. Friedman's word is gold and he has earned his time in "the cabin" more than almost anyone else.
In the meantime, we can chew on these small morsels for the next few months without, I hope, biting each other.
- [Bits] NHL's cap ceiling teams claim they're just fine, thanks
- Grabovski and Kulemin: GMs like depth, coaches like options, players like continuity
- On Sports Ownership and the New York Islanders: Or, life after Charles Wang
- Could the 2014-15 Islanders Be Spelled Without Anders?
- [Bits] Kabanov off their rocker, Coyote cage, Brodeur Boys and other off-season tales