The New York Islanders have signed Stephen Gionta to another one-year, two-way deal and expect to have him in the lineup tonight when they visit the Nashville Predators.
That’s really all we need to say about that, as you know all the narratives and opinions of such a move already, they’ve recurred and recycled again and again over the years.
But: Gionta came to camp on a PTO, hung around long enough for Jan Kovar to be cut (which wasn’t very long at all), Tanner Fritz to be demoted, and Casey Cizikas to be hobbled by an unspecified injury.
It’s great news for Gionta, who dealt with injuries last season and now gets to extend his playing career by at least another year with an organization, people, and area he knows well.
It’s not great news for Cizikas, who’s been placed on IR (retroactively) while Andrew Ladd came off, but they seem to expect it’s a short-term thing and the retroactive move means Cizikas could be activated for the next game.
Gionta is 35 and logged, um, five points in 30 AHL games with Bridgeport last season, and he’ll surely spend a lot (most?) of his time there again this season. The Isles will keep him around for just this purpose — a veteran who knows the league(s), the game, will do what’s asked, and can afford to sit out long stretches without hindered development in the NHL and help mentor younger players in the AHL, etc.
#Isles Lou Lamoriello on Stephen Gionta, signed off a PTO today: "He wasn’t in our plans at all this year and asked to come to camp and certainly just stuck with it the whole time...He’ll go to Bridgeport and certainly will teach young players how to be pros."— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) October 13, 2018
#Isles Barry Trotz talked about the "veteran leadership" Stephen Gionta brings. Asked about that, the savvy veteran Gionta said basically that meant he was "old."— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) October 13, 2018
He’s been assigned #10, previously worn by Kovar, for tonight’s Islanders lineup.
When he’s assigned to Bridgeport, he’ll be another veteran over the AHL in-game limit, but then Kovar would’ve posed the same challenge there. Either way, in both places, the Isles are keeping large practice squads and lots of players who are...just like the players they had before.