In his Rumblings blog on Wednesday, Pierre Lebrun of ESPN shared a few nuggets from Islanders GM Garth Snow regarding what the team needs to take another step next season.
Lubomir Visnovsky may not be one of those things.
Snow is quoted in the article saying that the Islanders "don't anticipate" Visnovsky, an unrestricted free agent, to re-sign with the team and that his spot in the line-up could be up for grabs between a trio of young defensemen.
"We obviously have an opening in net behind Jaro [Halak]," Snow said. "That's no secret. I don't anticipate [blueliner Lubomir] Visnovsky coming back so there's potential for one of our young defensemen to earn a spot, whether it's [Scott] Mayfield, [Ryan] Pulock, [Griffin] Reinhart, we'll see what happens via the trade route at the draft and then look into free agency. Those are not guarantees. We feel we have a good group. I'm not shy to say we'd be happy to have the same group back."
While it's not necessarily surprising that the Islanders may not want to bring back a soon-to-be 39-year-old player with a history of concussions, Visnovsky has carved out a place on the team that won't easily be replaced by a kid from Bridgeport, however talented they are.
Dubbed "The Silver Fox" by Kyle Okposo during the playoffs, Visnovsky is a valued voice in the locker room and on the ice, where he excels at moving the puck on the power play and is a trusted presence on the third pair. Mayfield, Pulock and Reinhart have their strengths and young legs, but aren't even almost as experienced as Visnovsky, who's been in the NHL for 15 years.
Just last month, Visnovsky's agent Neil Sheehy shot down a rumor of his client moving to the KHL, saying the focus is on the NHL and that preliminary talks with the Islanders had already taken place. Yesterday via Twitter, the Daily News' Stephen Lorenzo quoted Sheehy has saying Lubo "likes the Islanders for sure."
But as Arthur Staple of Newsday theorizes, perhaps there was something in those preliminary talks that wasn't to Snow's liking, especially now that the salary cap ceiling for next season has been set at $71.4 million. With a little over $16 million in cap room and three RFAs to sign, Snow has some tough decisions to make.
Had heard #Isles and Lubo's agent were still talking. Could be asking price on a 1-year deal is more than Snow is willing to give.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) June 24, 2015
As a guy who owns a Visnovsky shirsey (yes, I know, I've said that a million times) and loves that smooth-skating high-risk adventure, I want to see Visnovsky back. But as the Islanders venture into previously unexplored territory - where they actually have to worry about the cap ceiling (good lord) - I can understand if Snow doesn't want to commit too much of his remaining space to an aging player.
Even one as fun as The Silver Fox.