Talk about cutting it close: just moments before the Islanders and Matt Moulson went to arbitration, the two sides came to an agreement on a one-year, $2.45 million contract for the upcoming season. Good deal for both sides.
Moulson will get a chance to prove that he is no one year wonder, which should rightfully happen based on his age (soon to be 27). However, I haven’t seen anything in Moulson’s game that says to me that last season was a fluke. He gets too all of those “dirty” areas and isn’t afraid to stand in front of the net. Islanders fans can remember a number of Moulson’s goals coming from tips from standing in front of an opposing netminder. I personally would have preferred to see a two-year deal worked out here between them. Moulson is now going to be eligible for unrestricted free agency after the 2010-2011 season.
It is very possible that if Moulson gets off to a fast start again, he could be signed to an extension and that absolutely would be the right way to handle that. There is some fear among fans however about how players perceive the organization after some of the events of the current offseason, as well as how the long term future of the franchise looks. I really don’t think Moulson thinks about all that to be honest. Worse things have happened and players who have been here talk about how they like it. Moulson has always spoken about being loyal to the organization that finally gave him a chance. He still would like to be here a while. His buddy John Tavares will be here and he has become good friends with Islanders captain Doug Weight as well. So I wouldn’t be too concerned right now, but it is absolutely something to keep in the back of your mind heading into the season.
Jankowski to Montreal: Speaking of the offseason, former Islanders Assistant GM and Director of Amateur Scouting Ryan Jankowski has landed on his feet with the Montreal Canadiens. He will be in charge of scouting players in Western Canada, closer to his home. He’s very happy and gave credit to the Islanders, saying his eight years here really helped to make this all possible for him. Just as we will be doing here, Jankowski said he will keep an eye on the Island to see how many of our young players drafted under his watch develop. Best of luck to Ryan in his new position.
Free-agent update: As far as we know, the Islanders are certainly still interested in and kicking the tires of some left over UFAs. The pickings are getting really slim now however, as Alex Frolov has signed a one year, $3 million deal with the Rangers while Alexei Ponikarovski has signed for one year and $3.2 million with the Kings. The Frolov deal is a nice one, but the Poni signing is a very desperate move by the Kings. After most likely losing out on Ilya Kovalchuk – the grievance over the rejected contract won’t mean much as it will be resolved and he will be in New Jersey – the Kings went back to Frolov, who refused to return after feeling he was mistreated last season by the Kings.
There are still some useful players out there when looking at the Islanders needs, such as Paul Kariya, Max Afinogenov and Lee Stempniak. If Kirill Petrov makes the roster, Afinogenov or Slava Kozlov could be good veteran country men to bring in for him. The ultimate low-risk, high reward guy out there seems to be Marek Svatos.
On defense, you still have Willie Mitchell, Shaone Morrisonn and Ruslan Salei. I think that if the Islanders do any more tinkering on defense, you would be more likely to see a trade. Snow has already admitted that he has been looking at trades on the blueline and wouldn’t rule one out.
James Mirtle has an up to date list on his blog with players that are still unsigned and as you can see there are some useful ones to fill out the roster and compliment some of the youngsters. Keep in mind that more and more players in recent years have become non-roster invitees, and the Islanders have not been afraid to hand those out the last few years (Park, Dunham and Berard).