7:25: Matthew Lombardi signs with Nashville for three years. Trevor Smith signs with the Ducks. After signing four players, Islanders appear to be done for the night. Garth Snow and the players did interviews with Katie Strang of Newsday, so check out their happy reactions there.
Eaton is on a two-year contract, the rest are on one-year deals. If the Islanders take the next step this season and make the playoffs, Snow will have a better chance of luring bigger fish a year from now.
Nevertheless, plenty of players remain. The Islanders can negotiate some quality deals with available free agents over the next two months.
Closing up the Comments thread for Day 2, so here’s wishing everyone a fun and safe weekend.
3:50: The Islanders have signed fourth-line fighter and energy player Zenon Konopka, whom the fans are going to like. Great energy, willing pugilist, good on faceoffs. The Islanders were interested when they scouted him in Syracuse before he signed last season with Tampa Bay. Konopka gets a one-year deal.
2:30: According to Katie Strang of Newsday, the Islanders are signing defenseman Milan Jurcina and former Rangers farmhand forward PA Parenteau. Jurcina is a 6-4, 235-pound defensive defenseman who was a depth player last season in Washington and Columbus and hasn’t hit nearly enough for his coaches’ liking. Jurcina played for Scott Gordon in Providence. Jurcina gets $1 million on a one-way for 2010-11.
Parenteau, with good hands but not great wheels, will get a good look just as Matt Moulson did. He got a one-way deal for $600,000, so Parenteau will be on the Islanders in 2010-11.
According to agent Allan Walsh on Twitter, both deals are for one season and “Garth Snow gets the gold star for the day.”
2:05 pm: The Islanders have signed former Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton to a two-year contract worth $5 million total. The 33-year-old Eaton is 6-2, 205 pounds and averaged 20 minutes a game for Pittsburgh during the regular season and playoffs. In 79 regular season games, he had 3 goals and 16 assists and was a plus-5. Eaton had 25 penalty minutes.
He is known as a positionally-sound defensive defenseman with average mobility, but he does not play tough and he does not play physically. Eaton is the first of two defensemen Garth Snow hopes to sign. The Islanders could still use help on the power play point and a dman who hits.
11:55 am: The Bridgeport Sound Tigers sent out a press release in the last hour announcing the Islanders signing of goaltender Nathan Lawson. He accepted his one-year, two-way contract. Garth Snow has hinted that Lawson will compete for an NHL job in training camp. If the Islanders decide to not sign an expereinced goaltender in the free agent market, the job could be Lawson’s by default.*
*Of course, this all depends on the status of Rick DiPietro.
Noon: Pavel Kubina decides to take a two-year deal with Steve Yzerman and Tampa Bay.
12:05: Matthew Lombardi, said to be looking for big money, is still available. So is Andy Sutton and a cast of about 100.
12:14: Sheldon Souray has been placed on waivers by the Edmonton Oilers.
12:45: A personal thank you to all the hockey fans who jumped on this site yesterday to the tune of a staggering 200,000 pageviews. Incredible.
1:10: The reliable Kevin Allen of USA Today is reporting that Chris Higgins is signing a one-year deal with the Panthers.
12:05 am: When Ryan Smyth chose Colorado over the Islanders three summers ago, and agent Don Meehan went public in saying the Islanders gave Ryan plenty to think about, the plight of the Islanders and the Coliseum rightfully came into focus. The setting was also far different than it is today. Rick DiPietro was healthy. Ted Nolan was considered a players’ coach. Michael Farber of SI picked Garth Snow as the NHL GM of the Year because he went out and got Smyth at a very fair price. The Islanders had made the playoffs.
Smyth left and Snow wisely made the decision to go full-throttle with a slow and steady rebuilding program. The Coliseum and uncertainty of the franchise’s future will be a hurdle until all is settled. But please, to make the Islanders’ inability to recruit Dan Hamhuis and Paul Martin and anyone else about the Coliseum issue is an insult. Hamhuis went home to BC to play for a contender. Paul Martin got $25 million for five years to sign with a team led by Sidney Crosby and run by Mario Lemieux. What would you have done?
Beyond the view of the Coliseum asphalt from the Marriott, here’s what the top free agents know: in the last three seasons, the Islanders came in 26th, 30th and 26th. They know the Islanders have needed Alexei Yashin, Rick DiPietro and bonuses just to reach the salary cap floor. They might have thought having Kevin Connolly at the draft table and announcing a first round pick was, um, interesting.
They know John Tavares is going to be really good, Kyle Okposo is almost there, and Mark Streit turned out to be a darn good player after Montreal let him go. Then there’s a dropoff. The top free agents don’t know, don’t want to know and don’t care that the Islanders have begun to re-tool the prospect pool. The potential of 17-year-old Nino Niederrislander, the two Kirills and Travis Hamonic doesn’t mean Jack Hillen to them. Again, can you blame them?
When the Islanders have a season like the Phoenix Frickin Coyotes did this season, players will listen to their offers. When the Islanders have a season like Colorado did, maybe agents won’t have to manufacture cover for the Islanders’ failure to sign a Type A free agent. If the Islanders’ rebuild is on target, there’s no reason why that can’t happen next summer or the one after that. When the Islanders have a 100-point season, I guarantee no one’s going to ask how extravagant the Coli’s family room is.
In the mean time, lining up the excuses does not look good. How does the Nobody-Wants-the-Islanders chorus reflect on the players that do sign here over the next few days or weeks? Cripes, what does it say about Doug Weight? Stop it. It’s insulting.
A slow news day in August, if you want to recap the offseason shopping and mention the Coliseum hurdle…that’s one thing. At least wait until Kate Murray potentially makes herself the villainess. To spread this crap soon after dinnertime on the first day of free agency, while the Coyotes are signing people, is shameful.
Look, the Islanders’ shopping list remains the same. As I wrote the other day, that top-four defenseman and top-six forward might have to be in the “potential” category. They also need an effective grinding forward and reliable, big-bodied third-pair defenseman. Players of this calibre are still out there and can be had at reasonable rates. You better believe these players could not give a puck if the Islanders don’t own a single treadmill.
The Islanders haven’t gotten anybody yet. Big whoop. Anyone hoping for highly sought after players like Anton Volchenkov, Hamhuis and Martin this summer – and this includes the Islanders – took their eye off the ball. Far from the end of the world. The excuses that started popping up eight hours after the market opened? Inexcusable.
Move on. Get back to work. Make the hockey team better. The Islanders have two months.
Day 2 thread begins. See you in Comments.