SO NOW WHAT? Biron’s a nice value pickup, but the Islanders need skill in positions other than goal

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11:30 pm - So now that the Islanders have more than compensated for the loss of Rick DiPietro – even as, sources continue to tell Point Blank, they plan for his return to the lineup by Thanksgiving – now what?


Solid value aside, it seems almost extravagant for the team to spend $1.4 million on Martin Biron to join Dwayne Roloson as the bridge to the return for DiPietro and development of Mikko Koskinen. The Islanders had a need and filled it with Roloson, who played 63 games last year for the Edmonton Oilers. Fact is, if they are looking to compete next year – the Biron signing sure illustrates they want to win as many games as they can – they could use at least two top-9 forwards and one top-4 defenseman.


Don’t get me wrong. It’s been a while since Islanders fans could say they had an embarrassment of riches at any position. No one is complaining. It just feels like they signed Biron as gravy when the Roloson deal got the job done as a perfect stop-gap. The official press release hadn’t even been distributed before fans and bloggers (guilty) started talking up Marty as tradebait. Whoop-de-do, another second or third round pick. Yeah, I know, asset management. Got it.


Maybe Garth Snow is really enjoying his new rep as a conservative, patient bargain hunter. Maybe Biron at $1.4 mill for just one season was too irresistible. He’s a good goalie who wins fans and friends wherever he plays with his megawatt smile and Bruno-like charm. That’s Gervais, not the movie guy.


But you’ll have to forgive me for not getting caught up in the OMG reaction on Wednesday. Biron is good, an upgrade certainly over Yann Danis and Joey MacDonald, a step up from Scott Munroe. But how many games was Munroe going to play in support of Roloson? With Munroe now ticketed for Bridgeport, does this mean Koskinen may have to get his starts in the East Coast League? Taking a 21-year old from the Finnish Elite League to the “Coast” is generally not the recommended route.


And let’s take it easy on the standing Os for Biron, who dominated the Islanders but not many other teams last season in Philadelphia. The Flyers, who spend money like no other team in the league outside of New York, walked away from him and signed Ray Emery. Biron was available to every team in the league for three full weeks at the cost of only his contract. His best opportunity, it turned out, was to sign with a team whose GM said in a press release, “Now we have three bonafide number one goaltenders.” Biron must also know the rebuilding Islanders are not the beast of the East. Despite his talk of “opportunity” to Greg Logan, Biron signed here because it was the best offer he could get in late July.


Did the Islanders’ goaltending need improvements more than their injury-prone, bottom-10 defense? Did the Islanders’ goal need more enhancements than their power play? If you were asked before 5:00 pm Wednesday what do the Islanders need more –  another proven NHL goalie or more size and toughness – which would you have chosen?


Of course, the good news is there are plenty of shopping days left before the start of the season. Perhaps Snow will get it all.


Last week I wrote that the Islanders had spoken with Alex Tanguay and would attempt to acquire a skill forward at their price. On Monday I wrote of the team’s efforts to up their toughness quotient at their price.


Garth Snow took Martin Biron at the Islanders’ price. This would seem to be proof he’s not done improving his team. Actually, it proves that he couldn’t possibly be done improving his team. A team that signs Roloson and Biron while believing they’re getting DiPietro back obviously doesn’t want any part of the Taylor Hall sweepstakes.


With three free agents and two early-round draft picks, Snow may have just wanted to build from the goal out. Now he needs to get to the “out” part.





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