July 4, 2010

Isles add Four Players on Day 2

The Islanders addressed a few needs on day 2 of free agency as the team agreed to terms with defensemen Mark Eaton and Milan Jurcina, and forwards P.A. Parenteau and Zenon Konopka.

Eaton, 33, signed a 2-year deal for $2.5 million per season. He played with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season and averaged 20 minutes of ice time, while recording 135 blocked shots, good for 36th among defensemen. He also chipped in 3 goals and 13 assists for a career high 16 points. However, the 6-2, 212 pound Eaton isn't being brought in for his offensive skill from the blueline, but rather for his defenseive skill. He is a very steady guy, and was usually paired up with Sergei Gonchar while with the Penguins. Right now, it is assumed that he will skate with Mark Streit on the top pairing.

Jurcina, 27, was limited to only 44 games last season between the Washington Capitals and the Columbus Blue Jackets, registering 1 goal and 6 assists for 7 points. The 6-4, 240 pound defenseman signed a 1-year, $1 million contract with the team. He once had a lot of promise, with people projecting him as a top defenseman, but he never panned out that way. He has a big body and does use that size sometimes, but not as often as he should. He is only a couple of years removed from a 150 hit season, so it is good to see that in the past he has been capable of at least playing the body. Scott Gordon coached him at Providence, and no doubt had a huge say in bringing him to the team. He will try to work with Jurcina on using his size more, as well as the booming shot that he possesses.

P.A. Parenteau signed a 1-year, 600K contract with the Islanders. Parenteau, 27, played in 22 games with the New York Rangers notching 3 goals and 5 assists for 8 points. Parenteau has been a very prolific scorer in the AHL, with 166 goals and 237 assists for 403 points over 450 games. He came up to the Rangers, and while he didn't score the way he did in the minors found other ways to contribute. He always seemed to be very active, and played well defensively. While he isn't the biggest guy, he wasn't afraid to check a player. This seems like if it works out, he could be a good bottom line winger.

The final haul of the day for the Islanders was tough forward Zenon Konopka. Konopka is a very interesting specimen, as he led the league in fights (33) and penalty minutes (265). At the same time, he also won 62% of his faceoffs (288 out of 462). While that is a very limited sample, it is interesting for one of the toughest guys in the league to be so good in a category like that. It should be enjoyable for all to watch him patrol the 4th line this season and protect the young team the Isles have.

These signings aren't going to set the world on fire, but that's fine. These are all very solid signings and all fill some roles that the team desperately needed to fill. I personally am very excited about Eaton, and think that is going to turn out to be a steal for the team. He's a very solid, underrated player and everything out of Pittsburgh has been very positive about him. Konopka fills a need that the team has not had in...well, quite a while. It's going to be nice to finally see someone who isn't afraid to drop the gloves, and is quite good at it too. Jurcina is a little bit of a project, but Gordon has recommended some nice players during his time here, so I will defer to him on this one. I will say that I really liked Jurcina's game at the Olympics. He was one of the Czechs best defensemen out there. Parenteau seems like he could be a very nice replacement for Sean Bergenheim/Richard Park. He seems to be a hard working player who found other ways to contribute at the NHL level.

Some people look at these signings, and wonder a little about if the Islanders had plans for another defensemen and the scorer that Garth Snow said he would like to add.

First off, I'll start with the defense. Personally, I think that the Islanders are done for now as far as free agent defensemen go. I will not rule out a trade though, maybe even one of Radek Martinek or Bruno Gervais. Should that happen, then maybe you see them add another defenseman. What they have now though is an upgrade over what it was at any point last season. It isn't a drastic upgrade, but the slight upgrade will make the Islanders a better team.

So, then what about that "forward who can put the puck in the net with more consistency?" Well, thats a good question. Many people have been floating around the names of Alex Frolov, Max Afinogenov and Lee Stempniak to help out there. The team has been looking at a scoring forward, but it's not any of these guys.

The team has seemed to set their sights right now on Ilya Kovalchuk, who you may have heard of. Yes that's right, the Islanders are making a serious push for him. It's been reported that Snow has reached out to the Kovalchuk camp a couple of times since the market opened this past Thursday, and it sounds like the Islanders could prepare an offer for him and present it to him on Monday or Tuesday when the holiday weekend comes to a close. The terms? Well we don't know for sure, but the very reliable Darren Dreger of TSN reported that there was talk that the Islanders could go as high as 10 years, $100 million.

That's your basic Kovalchuk news right there. I do plan on going more into depth on the topic, with my feelings and everything, which I plan to post tomorrow (I figure he deserves an entire post to himself, no?). I'm still trying to organize everything that I want to say on that topic, but feel free to leave me your own thoughts in the comments section.



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