December 17 2015 08:00AM
Over the past few days, I’ve been looking at the unenviable situation Garth Snow has to deal with in Brooklyn this summer. Finally, after year after year of mediocrity, terrible management, paying Alexei Yashin to not play for the team, and a seemingly endless rebuild, the New York Islanders are one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference and they appear to be set for an extended playoff run. That said, they also have to weigh the possibility of losing two of their best forwards, Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen, for nothing come July as they’re both set to hit free agency.
Like Okposo, Nielsen is having one of the best seasons of his career at just the right time. He’s third on the Islanders in scoring with 12 goals and 10 assists, and he has the best possession numbers on the team despite starting roughly 53 per cent of his shifts in the defensive zone. Obviously Nielsen’s value as a two-way producer is undeniable, but he’s going to be 32-years old at the beginning of the 2016-17 season, so can the Islanders afford to offer him a new contract?
December 15 2015 07:00AM
I wrote yesterday about how Garth Snow has a few difficult decisions approaching him on the horizon. We all know that Travis Hamonic has requested to be traded so that he can be closer to his family in Western Canada, but the Islanders also have a handful of key players with contracts set to expire in July. Both Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen, who happen to sit first and third respectively in scoring on the team, are set to hit the open market this summer, and it’s very clear that both will be demanding an upgrade from their modest salaries.
Okposo is in the midst of arguably the best season of his professional career. He’s playing on John Tavares’ wing in generally offensive situations and he’s responded by scoring eight goals, 18 assists, and managing a 50.6 Corsi For percentage at even strength through 31 games. What can Okposo expect to earn on the open market? And will the Islanders be able (and willing) to give it to him?
December 14 2015 08:00AM
Remember a few years ago when the New York Islanders dealt Matt Moulson and a first and second round pick in either 2014 or 2015 to the Buffalo Sabres for soon-to-be UFA Thomas Vanek? Then a few months later they traded him to Montreal for Sebastien Collberg and second round pick? That was awful. It was like, Alexei Yashin trade/contract/buyout bad. It looked like they gave away a lottery pick and Moulson for 47 games of Vanek, and a couple of throw-ins. Garth Snow opted to give Buffalo the first round pick in 2015 rather than 2014, giving him one summer to turn the franchise around, otherwise his team would be on the losing end of a horrible trade.
Jaroslav Halak, Mikhail Grabovski, and Nikolai Kulemin were signed as free agents, Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy were acquired through trade, and the team did a complete 180, going from eighth in the Metropolitan Division to third in just one year. This season, the Islanders are one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference and appear to be one their way to establishing themselves as legit Cup contender. That said, a trade request from travis Hamonic and two key impending free agents will make 2016 another interesting summer for Snow.
December 11 2015 07:30AM
By now, we all know that this summer’s free agent crop is absolutely loaded with talent. In fact, it might actually be the best group of players to hit the open market at the same time since the NHL implemented the salary cap back in 2005. But what about the 2017 UFA class? While next, next summer’s group doesn’t boast names like Steven Stamkos and Anze Kopitar, there are still a handful of franchise changing players who could possibly become free agents.
Like Brent Burns, for example, who, aside from owning arguably the best beard in hockey, has cemented himself as one of the league’s elite offensive defencemen over the past few seasons. Since the beginning of the 2013 lockout season, Erik Karlsson and P.K. Subban are the only defencemen in the NHL who have scored more points than Burns has, and this season, nobody in the league has produced more individual shot attempts.
So, what will Burns command if he hits the open market? And are the Sharks going to be able to afford it?
Nation World HQ
December 11 2015 06:30AM
Leafs fans still think Stamkos is coming, Oilers and Flames both heating up, a look back at the Evander Kane trade, Prust happy with fine for spear on Marchand, NHL expansion, 2016 draft lottery and salary cap, a big left hand, fantasy hockey and more in this week's Nation Roundup brought to you by DraftKings