ASHAM WELCOMES ISLANDERS' ENCOREWould "stand up for all those great young players"

5:35 pm: Arron Asham would be honored if the Islanders considered him for a second stint in New York.


“Are you kidding? If they were interested in me, it would be really flattering and I’d have a lot to think about,” Asham told Point Blank this afternoon before boarding a plane for a vacation – and keeping an eye on the free agent frenzy.


“The Islanders have come a long way in the three years since I’ve been gone. They’ve added so much young talent. I’m 32 now and I’ve grown up myself a lot over the years. If I had the chance to be a leader and stand up for those great young players, I’m confident I could help out.”


Asham will be an unrestricted free agent on Thursday, but not because the Philadelphia Flyers do not want him. The Stanley Cup Finalists have no room under the salary cap. “There are no hard feelings,” said Asham. “I wanted to be there and I know they would like to keep me. Things are too tight.” To be sure, when I covered the Flyers’ opening round victory over New Jersey and the Cup Final loss to Chicago, Philadelphia head coach Peter Laviolette raved to me about Asham’s improvement as a player and leader. In 72 games last season, Asham had 10 goals, 14 assists and 126 penalty minutes.


The 5-11, 205-pound right wing – one of the best middleweight punchers in the game and the owner of a blazing slap shot he doesn’t use enough – has several Long Island connections. He still has his home in Point Lookout. His longtime girlfriend lives in New York. He spends most of the offseason here. Asham maintains a good relationship with general manager Garth Snow and the handful of teammates that remain from his first stint with the team. In the summer, he skates with several Islanders and Long Island NHLers at Iceworks in Syosset.


“The Islanders are the team I’m closest to, the team I’ve spent the most time with,” said Asham, who played four seasons here from 2002-2007. “You never know what’s going to happen in free agency, but maybe the Islanders are a possibility. I’m confident I’m going to be with some NHL team. I just won’t know who for a few days. No matter what happens, I can tell you I have nothing but great feelings about the organization, the fans and all of the people on Long Island.”


Comments on Arron Asham are welcomed. Details later tonight on the PB plan for the opening of UFA.