While your eyes have no doubt been positively glued to this week’s World Cup of Hockey practice games, Islanders training camp remains just around the corner, ready to turn all those offseason fears and anxieties into reality before you know it.
One name that can’t be penciled in yet for the camp roster is Ryan Strome, who is still in need of a contract extension. We haven’t heard any news in a while, but today Newsday’s Arthur Staple clued us in on what’s happening between Strome and the team. And the answer is, “not much.”
No news on Ryan Strome. #Isles do still have team rule in place that players not signed by start of camp are out for year.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) September 9, 2016
#Isles and Strome still working towards a deal. Not much concern yet on either side that it won't get done. Camp officially begins Sept. 22.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) September 9, 2016
“Working on a deal” and “not much concern” are good news and point to another late deal as is customary under Garth Snow (ask Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson about that). Nobody’s ever pegged Strome as a hold out candidate, and temperatures haven’t risen as they have with other teams and restricted free agents in need of new contracts.
But time is getting tight so maybe we can wrap this up, guys, hm? Don’t do it for us. Do it as a gift to John Tavares for his birthday, which is September 20th in case you forgot.
Also of note is that the Sign-or-Sit rule installed under previous owner Charles Wang seems to still be in effect under new bosses Scott Malkin and John Ledecky. So far, the only man to stare down the policy and laugh in its face was Sean Bergenheim, who played in Europe for a year before coming back to the NHL and finding some success with a dozen teams before, uh, leaving for Europe again? Who knows. Anyway: Showed him!
(Ed. Note: Hey, in that link from a year ago, I said we’d see this same game of chicken with Strome this year. Finally, my latent mutant super power - knowing what the Islanders are going to do before they do it - has been revealed.)
Staple also gave us a heads-up on a possible try out contract to diminutive former Devil Stephen Gionta, brother of Sabres captain Brian.
#Isles may bring F Stephen Gionta to camp on a PTO. Nothing signed yet but in discussions. Played 270 games over 6 seasons with Devils.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) September 9, 2016
While not official, Gionta would fill that veteran/old guy spot the Islanders love to lock up every year, specifically with ancient Devils. I’d like to pin this on new Director of Player Personnel and longtime New Jersey executive Chris Lamoriello, but after seeing the veritable Murders’ Row of Brian Rolston, Jay Pandolfo, Steve Bernier and Marek Zidlicky cross the Goethals and Verrazano Bridges to play for the Islanders, I can’t in good conscience do it. But we’ll get you yet, Lamoriello!
Also, let’s face it: if Staple tweeted about it, it’s gonna happen. And if it happens, Gionta’s gonna sign, probably for the veteran’s minimum. He has 51 career points (15 goals, 36 assists) and has a career 5v5 CF of 48%, but has played a lot on the penalty kill.
Did I mention he’s 32 and 5’-7”? He’s 32 and 5’-7”.
As Tuned-In Torgo astutely notes in the comments, and as I forgot to mention when I first wrote this worthless article, the Islanders could just be looking at Gionta as a training camp roster filler. With two forwards at the World Cup and prospects in an out of preseason line-ups, the more bodies the better. GIonta could end up simply spending a month as an Islander before being released, if he’s signed to the PTO at all.
This concludes your Islanders pre-training camp update. Stay tuned next for Team Canada versus Team USA in today’s lone World Cup warm up game at 7 pm on ESPN U. It’s never too early to get the hate going, even if that hate is for Team USA coach John Tortorella.