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Islanders Sign Luca Sbisa Because Of Course

Again, according to script

Philadelphia Flyers v New York Islanders
Proven Winner Professional Veteran Guy has enough experience to wear a high number like that...until signed.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The New York Islanders announced the signing of defenseman Luca Sbisa to a one-year contract.

Just like you knew they would.

Sbisa was in camp on a PTO (professional tryout), as is Dennis Seidenberg, an even older veteran who’d joined the Islanders after a similar PTO stint a few seasons ago. He’d spoken of accepting the Islanders’ POT invitation because Lou Lamoriello indicated he had a good chance at making the team not only now but in the long term.

That’s a concern to any observer of Sbisa’s underlying numbers.

The Italian-born Sbisa is 28 and has 495 regular season games of NHL experience — he was part of the last legitimate Chris Pronger trades — but is not all that effective at the NHL level, which means he fits perfectly with Lamoriello’s offseason additions.

This signing adds another one-way NHL contract to a blueline that already has Nick Leddy, Johnny Boychuk, Ryan Pulock, Thomas Hickey, Scott Mayfield, Adam Pelech and Devon Toews.

Toews, who we have many reasons to believe should be in the top-six from opening night, is waiver-exempt, which creates the danger that the Islanders will start the season stashing him in Bridgeport.

Maybe not though. We can still give this new regime a little time. (Toews has been pairing with Mayfield a lot in preseason...maybe they make up the regular third pair.)

Meanwhile, they have a bushel of veteran forwards in camp — there are like three fourth lines, easily — so the final roster decisions are going to be interesting. Stephen Gionta, remember, is also still in camp on a PTO.

With Andrew Ladd’s back issues keeping him out of action so far, maybe Ladd starts the season on IR and the Isles keep eight defensemen and just 13 forwards on the opening roster.

If Sbisa spent most of the season in the press box (presumably with Adam Pelech) while Toews got regular playing time, I’d be okay with the Sbisa signing, I guess. Still unnecessary, but I’d rather have a veteran “just glad to still have a job” guy in that pressbox position than depriving Toews of playing time.

Trying to withhold final judgment here until the season kicks into gear. This signing was hardly a surprise based on all the indications coming out of camp thus far. It’s just frustrating because, for all the talk of “culture change*,” every. Single. Offseason. Addition. ...has looked like more of the same.

*aside: Though he wore #74 in preseason, a reversal of his past 47 that is now worn by Leo Komarov, the official site lists him as wearing #21.