Since a number of items have happened over the past couple of weeks that we didn't get a chance to cover, I wanted to address them all in one long quick hit update. So, here goes:
DOUG WEIGHT RE-SIGNS: The Islanders and captain Doug Weight finally closed the deal, as the center agreed to a one-year contract for $875K. There are $300K in bonuses in the contract that can bring the total up to as much as $1.15 million.
said that he is recovering very well and should be able to participate in training camp, and has also said he is feeling the best he has since he came to the Islanders in 2008.
What I find interesting is that he says the shoulder has been nagging him over the last few seasons, especially since he joined the team. In that first season here, while battling groin issues as well, Weight was still able to go 10-28-38 in just 53 games, and was pretty effective as a powerplay quarterback. We already know about all the intangibles he provides, but I'm curious to see what a much healthier Weight can provide offensively this year.
Some folks seem to think that Weight will get the benefit of the doubt, and get ice time that he may not deserve. Last season, there were various players who had their ice time cut in favor of younger players when it was warranted. Scott Gordon isn't afraid to do what he has to in order to make this team perform at it's best. He is in his contract year, and the goal for this season is playoffs. Doug won't be among the leaders in 5-on-5 ice time, but you can bet he'll be near the top when it comes to powerplay time.
SIM AND HILBERT RETURN: The Islanders brought back a couple of former Islanders when they inked Jon Sim and Andy Hilbert to one-year deals. Sim just finished the final year of the three year contract that he signed with the Islanders prior to the 2007-08 season. After having a rather tumultuous first two seasons, Sim was actually not too bad in his agitator role last season, and it isn't even a guarantee that he makes the roster this year seeing as he has a two-way contract. When he had his AHL stint in 2009 after being waived by the big club, he got 23 points in 18 games. The Sound Tigers have lost some fire power and leadership down there, so it is a welcome addition for them. He is not a terrible option to have when players go down with injury or if a game requires the Isles to add a last minute "pest."
Hilbert left the Isles after the 2008-09 season, signing with the Minnesota Wild. Hilbert, who only saw four games in the NHL last season, signed a two-way contract as well. Hilbert was a guy who always did fairly well on the penalty kill, and is another guy who isn't a terrible option on the fourth line. As is the case with Sim, this is another welcome addition to Bridgeport as he had 25 points in 33 games with the Houston Aeros last season.
Many people panicked when these contracts were announced. However, the fact that they have both signed two-way deals shows that they aren't guaranteed a roster spot. They are two guys who know the system, liked playing here, and never complained about their roles. Both are willing to go down to Bridgeport and provide some offense and leadership that the Tigers are sorely lacking after the loss of guys like Trevor Smith and Greg Mauldin. The Islanders young players have been coming around nicely, and with that their ice times will increase as well, which would mean guys like Sim and Hilbert would be more likely to play in roles that suit them better. Either way, glad to have both back in this situation for depth to the club and to make for some healthy competition at training camp. Speaking of which...
TRAINING CAMP INVITES: As we rapidly approach the start of training camp, we have not yet received any word on the Islanders having any confirmed players for training camp yet. A couple of weeks ago, USA Today's Kevin Allen reported that the Islanders had reached out to agents with UFA's and said that they would welcome players for try outs. This is not a bad strategy, especially for a team at this point in the rebuild. The pickings are extremely slim now, and some of the only decent options that are out there have opted to go overseas. But there could still be some good finds, such as Fredrik Modin (Edit: Modin is reportedly signing with the Atlanta Thrashers) or Marek Svatos. Whether or not those two would be willing to accept invites is another story.
Many people seem to think there is an excellent chance we'll see one or more of Mark Parrish, Miroslav Satan or Ruslan Fedotenko in camp this year. All three former Islanders enjoyed their time here, and Parrish and Satan were training at Iceworks in Syosset as recently as last season, when there were on and off rumors of the Islanders signing them. The Islanders did end up bringing Parrish back on a minor league deal a couple of seasons ago, but that didn't last long as he was signed by the Dallas Stars for the remainder of that season. Satan ended up signing mid way through last season with the Boston Bruins.
The Islanders are no strangers to training camp invites, and actually signed most of the guys they brought in. In 2006-07, both Mike Dunham and Richard Park found their way onto the club through invites, while the 2007-08 squad picked up Bryan Berard. We are at the point now where we start to hear about guys attending camps on invites, so we'll definitely keep our eyes open for any news.
BERGIE AND MEYER MOVE ON: A couple of weeks back there was a run on teams signing former Islander fan favorites, with Sean Bergenheim signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Freddy Meyer signing with the Atlanta Thrashers.
Bergenheim got a 1-year deal at $700K, and gets to join a team that is much improved this offseason. He and the Islanders were at a crossroads after last season, and the team felt that it was best to part ways with the often inconsistent winger. Many people expected better offensive production out of Bergenheim, but he was generally solid defensively. However, there were times he would get into ruts where he would struggle in all aspects of the game and take some bad penalties on top of that. There were points where it seemed that he was over thinking the game and what he was doing. Now, he walks into a situation in Tampa that is probably better suited for him since he will not be looked at to be a primary source of offense.
Freddy Meyer got a 1-year, 2-way deal from the Thrashers. After loosing Andy Sutton at the trade deadline last season, Meyer became one of the Islanders better defensemen. He would often throw some punishing hits and blocked a lot of shots too. He was a guy who I was hoping would return for some depth, but with the Isles bringing in 3 new defensemen it sort of spelled the end for Meyer. He'll provide some good depth for Atlanta.
We'd like to wish these two fan favorites the best, and look forward to seeing them with their new teams this season.
GORING REPLACES JAFFE: MSG Network announced that current in-game analyst Butch Goring will be sliding into Billy Jaffe's old role along side Howie Rose as color commentator. This should come as no surprise. In the post I made a couple of weeks back about Jaffe leaving, I mentioned that Goring was going to be a top candidate. I'm very curious to see how Goring does in his new role. Jaffe did an excellent job, and provided some great insight into games. He was frequently on the national TV broadcasts, and I would imagine he still will be.
Jaffe has not said what he plans to do next, but someone is going to get one hell of a broadcasting talent. I hope to be able to watch many of the national games and have Jaffe there, breaking down the plays like a coach just like he did for the past four years during Islanders games. Good luck to him in whatever he decides to do next.
Those are the updates that I have been wanting to give you guys for the last little while. Most of the important stuff is now covered. Right now, I'm working on a couple of pieces talking about the Kovalchuk decision and the new amendment to the CBA, as well as some posts on the makeup of the Isles as we head to camp. As I said, I'm going to start pumping out these posts so be sure to look for them.