Hi everyone, thanks for reading. This first post is going to be a bit long winded but I have a bunch of things that I want to mention. I'm still editing the site but wanted to get my first post up. There has been a lot going on in Islander Country in terms of rumors, but not a heck of a lot of actual news. I will backtrack a little bit to get us up to date.
After the Islanders lost to the Sabres in 5 games in the Eastern Conference Quarter Finals, Isles fans turned their attention to planning for the off season. The first two questions that everyone wanted answered were A) Is Ryan Smyth coming back and B) Is Alexei Yashin being voted off the Island? While we still don't know the answer to the first, the answer to the second appeared to be no after reading Garth Snow's comments in a Newsday article a week or so before June. Garth basically said that Yash was here to stay, and his production would have been better if he didn't get hurt. That said, Isles fans sighed and went on with creating their New York Islander fantasy lines with Yashin included. But on June 6th, we all woke up to a surprise: Wang and the Islanders buy out Yashin for $17.6 million. While that may seem a bit pricey to tell someone to hit the road, it was a move that needed to be done. I respect Yashin and I think he is one of the gentlemen of hockey, but things just were not working out. The negatives outweighed the positives when you look at the big picture. This was Yashin's team, and it was his main job to take the team to the next level. Unfortunately that did not happen the 5 seasons he spent here and both sides agreed to move on. It was a very tough decision for Wang to make, and I'm sure it wasn't easy for the rest of the committee to make. Nolan commended Yashin for the effort he put in last year, but also said he wished "we could have gotten a bit more." Good luck to you Yash, wherever you ultimately end up.
As for Ryan Smyth, well no one really knows what is going on besides the Islanders' committee, Ryan Smyth, and his agent Don Meehan. Everyone involved is keeping things very close to the vest, and rightfully so. Some fans may get upset with this idea, but it is for the better. You really don't want news like this to leak out into the media and it could create some negative press or could help give other teams clues as to whether or not Smyth is available on July 1st. I will get more into this as we get closer to Sunday.
Also of note, the Islanders re-signed last minute hero Wade Dubielewicz to a 1 year, 1 way contract for $500K. Dubie came a long way since he got his first look back in the 2003-04 season, and finally earned the backup job, or at least for the next year. I look forward to the DP-Dubie combo next season.
Another good signing was getting Sean Bergenheim for 1 year at $500K. Bergenheim and the Isles had a dispute before last season, which ultimately led to Bergie going to Russia to play. He later moved on to a team in Sweden. The Isles and Sean made amends and Sean is set to prove himself next season. I hope to see Sean play on a line with Mike Sillinger and possible Trent Hunter. I think that could be a very exciting line.
Other than that, the rest are rumors of who is coming or who is going. I am still trying to sort through all the news that has been flying around since the end of the season. I will talk more about free agency in my next post.