July 8, 2007

Whats up with the Defense?

The answer to that question is not know right now, but it seems that it could be solved pretty quickly. It's just a little past 8 PM, and there is no noise coming out of the Isles camp. There have been rumors floating around about who the Isles are targeting, and there are many names out there that make it difficult to peg who the front runner is for the Isle's vacant defense position.

Garth Snow seems to have an increased interest in top free agent defenseman Sheldon Souray. It was originally rumored that Snow lost interest because of the price, but Greg Logan reports that Snow is now interested because Souray's asking price has gone down due to the fact that he is still on the market a week after it opened. Souray might not be the fleetest of foot, but he would definitely help the Islander's blueline out a great deal after they lost both Tom Poti and Sean Hill to Washington and Minnesota, respectively. In my opinion, I would welcome Souray and his shot to the Island if his price has decreased. I would be very interested in seeing how Ted Nolan would work with him and if he could turn Souray from an average defender into a very good defender with a booming shot from the point. Souray could add that star power that Long Island is lacking, and along with Mike Comrie, Bill Guerin, Ruslan Fedotenko and Jon Sim could help the Islanders become a true Ted Nolan team.

Other names tied to the Islanders are Danny Markov, Andy Sutton, Vitaly Vishnevski, Ossi Vaananen, Bryan Berard and David Tanabe. Markov plays a very intense style and could be one of the front runners to come to LI. His intense style does lead to some injuries, and last season he only played 66 games. He is very good defensively and would help the islanders out. Markov made $2.5 million last season, and he is looking for a raise over that amount. I think thats why no one has picked him up yet. Vishnevski and Vaananen are both very young, defensive defenseman. They are both very good options for Snow to choose from. Last season, Snow tried to acquire Vishnevski from Anaheim when they decided his arbitration award was much more than they could afford. He spent time with Atlanta and Nashville last year, and is known for his hard hitting. Vaananen is in the same mold as Vishnevski, and for the same reasons would also make for a good addition. Tanabe could make up for what the Islanders lost in Poti, although Tanabe has traveled around a lot in his young career. He could be an option is the islanders are looking for some sort of power play QB, but he is not that strong in his own zone. If I'm Snow, I stay as far away from Bryan Berard as I possibly can.

Free agency options haven't been the only thing discussed by the isles brass. There have been many discussions on going the trade route if they feel so inclined to do so. There were trade rumors surrounding the Coyotes' Ed Jovanovski, but those died down. It has not been ruled out though, especially with the recent additions of Bill Guerin and Mike Comrie. Another option could be Toronto's Bryan McCabe.

Right now, the Islander's defensive situation is very cloudy. But rumors always seem to include most of the players mentioned above. If I had my choice, I would probably go the free agent route and sign not 1, but 2 defensemen: Sheldon Souray and one of Vishnevski or Vaananen. The I would try and package one or more of Martinek/Campoli/Meyer along with an extra forward to see if we could get some help at center, because the options in the free agent market are lacking at the position. I have a feeling that the Islanders will sign one of Sheldon Souray or Danny Markov. My choice: Souray.

Regardless of who they decide to sign, many people are wondering when are they going to be signed. The Isles have a press conference scheduled for tomorrow afternoon at 12:30PM. You would think that they would want the latest addition to be included in that as well, but as I said earlier it's already after 8 and there is no news. The quiet before the storm? Maybe. maybe its possible that someone is already signed, and it is being kept very quiet because they want to surprise everyone tomorrow. That would mean someone like Souray was signed or that McCabe/Jovo was acquired. If someone like Markov/Vishnevski/Vaananen was signed, I think something would have been leaked by now. I suppose anything is possible between now and the presser tomorrow, but it seems like we are still in murky waters when trying to figure out what the defense will look like next year.

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