The New York Islanders came into the first day of free agency with three main roles to fill, a center, a right wing, and a goaltender. The Islanders managed to fill all three of those roles, whether they managed to improve their team in the meantime is something that remains to be seen.
The free agency frenzy began with the Islanders re-signing goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to a one year deal worth $3.25 million. The veteran goaltender comes back for his third season as an Islander, and will try to make up to fans for his lackluster performance in the playoffs. The 37 year old is a good option for the Islanders as he’s a veteran presence and very much so a leader in the locker room. Nabokov’s return disappointed some fans who were expecting a trade for a Ryan Miller, or Jonas Hiller, to lead the team between the pipes next season. However, it seems to me that Snow is going to look to give Kevin Poulin a legitimate chance at making his case to be the starter of the future before looking elsewhere. Reports are suggesting that the Islanders will be looking to give Poulin 20+ games next season, his first real elongated stunt in the NHL, and his first chance to fight for a starting role in the near future.
The second signing for the Islanders was ex-Minnesota Wild Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who signed a one year deal worth $2 million. Bouchard is second in scoring in Minnesota Wild history, and the playmaker is noted for his passing and vision on the ice. Although Bouchard has a history of concussions, last year he was relatively healthy playing 43 of 48 games, and posting 8 goals and 12 assists in the process. Although Bouchard is expected to be playing on Tavares’ wing next season, one of the things that make this signing good is his versatility in being able to play center effectively as well. Expectations are that Bouchard could post over 60 points if he plays on the first line aside Tavares, and can stay healthy.
The third signing, and quite certainly the least important one, was center Peter Regin. The 27 year old has been with the Senators since being drafted in the third round of the 2004 draft, making his debut in 2008. One would expect that the Regin signing was a depth signing to replace Keith Aucoin, giving competition to Brock Nelson for the third line center role. Having watched clips of Regin, he’s definitely shown flashes of brilliance, and possesses a good shot with which he usually hits his target.
Although not quite a free agency signing, the biggest signing of the day was without a doubt the seven year extension given to RFA defenseman Travis Hamonic worth a total of $27 million. Newsday reporter, Arthur Staple, quoted Hamonic as saying “we’re building something special with the Isles. I would never have signed this long if I didn’t truly believe that. Sever years is a long time – to me, that’s enough time to win a couple Stanley Cups…This is where I want to be.”
Although this is definitely quite early into the offseason, taking into account the signings of the day this is what the Islanders lineup would look like if the status quo remains as such:
Grabner-Nelson-Clutterbuck OR Regin-Nielsen-Grabner
(Regin, Boulton as scratches) (Boulton as scratch)
(Carkner as scratch)