The New York Islanders and their AHL affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers took a stab at building a competitive roster last season, adding free agents at above-the-AHL-standard prices.
It didn't work.
After a hot start, the Sound Tigers sunk to the bottom of the division and stayed there, finishing 28-40-7-1 and a full 21 points behind the next team up in their division, Albany.
This year they'll try again, with a wide mix of veteran and mid-20s signings announced this week.
In addition to the six on two-way NHL/AHL deals announced by the Islanders, there were nine more announced by the Sound Tigers. All of the six on NHL/AHL deals already have at least some NHL experience, and they are all forwards.
The links above have the fuller bios. Here is a quick rundown, NHL/AHL deals in italics.
The forward additions practically make a new corps up front. You'll need a program. Alan Quine, Mike Halmo and Sebastian Collberg are incumbents. (If you were wondering, Dustin Jeffrey signed with the Coyotes organization.)
- Tyler Barnes, RW - On an AHL deal, 25, he was an ECHL all-star with Toledo last season putting up over a point per game. He overlapped with Jason Clark at U. of Wisconsin.
Justin Florek, LW - A USNDT and Northern Michigan product, 25, he has 221 AHL games logged with the Providence Bruins. So he's not moving far. His Twitter self-description sounds pretty level-headed. In 2013-14 he saw four regular season and six playoff games with Boston, scoring a goal in both seasons.
- Ben Holmstrom, C/RW - Now 28, he played last season with Charlotte but spent his previous AHL years with the Flyers' rotating affiliate destinations.
- Josh Holmstrom, RW - Ben's younger (25) brother is in on an AHL deal. He had a stint with Bridgeport in 2013-14.
- Bracken Kearns - The oldest of the new signings at age 34, he is returning from a year in Finland (Espoo). This will be his seventh AHL team.
- Jesse Root, C - A Pittsburgh native and Yale product, Root is another returnee to the Sound Tigers after spending last season with Texas (AHL) and Idaho (ECHL).
- Andrew Rowe, LW/RW - Another guy who was with Charlotte last season, he's 27, a Michigan State product. He's put up more than a point per game in several ECHL seasons but only had short stints in the AHL.
- Sebastien Sylvestre, C - He is the youngest (21) of the new additions and has the second-coolest name. Played his junior hockey in QMJHL Chicoutimi, and had his first pro season in Bakersfield of the ECHL.
Justin Vaive, LW - The Buffalo native and former Ducks draft pick, 25, is 6'6. He broke through in Hartford last season with 32 points and 94 PIM.
Joe Whitney, LW/RW - He's 27, 5'6, a BC product and recent Albany forward who has three straight 20-goal seasons. He had 60 points in 66 games with Albany last season, plus four games with New Jersey.
James Wright, C/LW - Another 25-year-old, 6'4, he's listed as center/left wing but able to play any forward position. After leaving the Lightning organization, he's coming off a one-year stint in the KHL for Zagreb (Croatia).
The defense will again augment several young blueliners, though Griffin Reinhart is gone, Ryan Pulock is a good bet to make the NHL squad, and Scott Mayfield might not be far behind him, if two playoff games are any guide. But Adam Pelech and Jesse Graham will still be around.
- Bryce Aneloski, 25 - A righty, as Michael Fornabaio noted Aneloski was also announced as a re-signing by ECHL Orlando -- but the Isles' ECHL affiliate is in Missouri -- but that could be a, well, a different thing. He's headed to Bridgeport.
- Kane Lafranchise, 27 - Before last season in Utica, all his AHL experience was out West, and he played his NCAA hockey at Anchorage. Coolest name of the new group, obviously. He's a lefty.
- C.J. Ludwig, 25 - Also spent time in ECHL Bakersfield last season. He's Craig's son, as Fornabaio noted -- but is more of a puck-mover than a giant-padded shot blocker. Listed at 6'0.
Parker Milner, 24 - The Boston College standout played with the Sound Tigers before, but his success so far has come in the ECHL with Quad City. He could be ticketed for the ECHL if he is behind Stephon Williams and Kevin Poulin -- who received a qualifying offer -- is re-signed. Milner spent last season in Iowa and Illinois so, well, it's at least in the same region as the new Isles' ECHL affiliate.
So those are the additions so far. The names at the top don't include Kirill Petrov, signed to a one-year ELC (but I'd imagine ticketed for the NHL unless things go awry) and Latvian Miks Indrasis, coming to camp at least on an invitation.