January 14, 2013

Isles Claim Joe Finley; Visnovsky Update

With the season starting in less that a week, teams need to go through the usual process of officially assigning players to the minors, meaning that those who are not exempt must pass through waivers.

Since much of the league has began exposing their players, the Islanders scoured the waiver wire for a defenseman, and came back with Joe Finley from the Buffalo Sabres.

Finley only played five games for the Sabres last season, recording no points and 12 penalty minutes. This season with the Rochester Americans in the AHL, he's posted 1-4-5 in 36 games with 81 penalty minutes.

Finley's biggest attribute is his size. He stands at an imposing 6'8", weighing in at around 250 lbs. He's a guy who's willing to drop the gloves, although with very mixed results more often than not.

The defenseman has had his career take several different turns since being drafted 27th overall in the notoriously weak 2005 NHL Entry Draft by the Washington Capitals. He's toiled in the ECHL a lot and struggled so much at one point the Caps switched his position a few times.

Finley vs. Martin, January 2012. Photo by C. Hessel
Although back to being a defenseman, it would appear he is more of the fighter type rather than a guy who can play NHL caliber minutes. It remains to be seen what his use is for this Islanders team, but first thought is this is a depth move to give the team the ability to return Ty Wishart to Bridgeport (they have started that process by placing him on waivers). Yesterday I wrote in this space about the fact that the Islanders like what Wishart has provided to the other young kids in Bridgeport.

It's never a bad thing to have depth, especially one in the form of a long-term project. The jury is still out on what Lubomir Visnovsky's perplexing mind is thinking, but even before the lockout the team's plan was to stockpile some defensive depth and they will continue to do that regardless of things like this that are out of their control.

Look at it this way: at the very least, maybe Isles fans will get to see him drop the gloves a few times with the big club. He'll definitely bring even more excitement up to Bridgeport though. Without knowing the details of the new CBA, it's unclear how long a claimed player will have to remain on the NHL roster, if at all. But what we do know is there are no longer re-entry waivers, meaning that the Islanders will get his full cap hit ($525K for the next two seasons if with the big club, hypothetically).

Visnovsky Update: The given deadline of 10 AM to report to camp came and went for Visnovsky without a sign of the puck moving defenseman. It was reported that he had informed the Islanders he couldn't report today due to "personal reasons."

Thanks to Facebook, we see that these alleged "personal reasons" involved getting on a bus to Prague, where Visnovsky's now infamous KHL club HC Slovan is preparing for Tuesday's game.

What's unclear is if the KHL will actually allow him to step on the ice or not. Throughout the day we saw verbal anecdotes that indicated otherwise, which would really limit Visnovsky's options down to the ones mentioned in last night's post. The Islanders have no intentions of negotiating a deal to let Visnovsky continue to play in the KHL either despite his likely attempts.

We'll see where else this wacky story goes, and how far the NHL is willing to take it. We already know the Islanders stance, and that will not change. Nor should it.

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- Chris

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