RADEK MARTINEK WILL BE FREE ON JULY 1Islanders, vet dman to consider their options

9:00 am: After nine seasons with the Islanders, Radek Martinek will be free to sign with other NHL clubs when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, league sources tell Point Blank.

The 34-year-old Martinek and the Islanders, sharing mutual admiration, have not completely closed the door on his return to the team that picked the Czech in the eighth round of the 1999 NHL Draft. General manager Garth Snow, who has declined to make an offer to Martinek to this point, wants to keep his options open on the blue line. The well-respected Martinek will receive plenty of offers after the top players come off the market during the first few days of the UFA period.

The Islanders currently have five veteran defensemen locked up on one-way contracts for the 2011-12 season: Mark Streit, Mark Eaton, Mike Mottau, Milan Jurcina and Andrew MacDonald. Impressive youngster Travis Hamonic is on his two-way Entry Level contract, but is a lock to make the team out of training camp. That’s six defensemen, not counting restricted free agents Jack Hillen, Ty Wishart and management favorite Bruno Gervais, who played 53 games for the Islanders last season.

Snow could also be in the market for a significant upgrade to his defensive corps.

Through 453 regular season games with the franchise, Martinek was deeply appreciated by ownership, teammates and a long list of coaches. He has plenty left in the tank and – despite a career in which he has suffered some serious breaks, bruises, sprains and strains – has often matched up effectively against some of the most talented forwards in the Eastern Conference. If 2010-11 was his last season with the Islanders, consider this irony: his 64 games tied Hillen for the most played by a defenseman on the team.

There is no animosity. This appears to be a simple case of both sides professionally agreeing to take their time to do what’s best for them. In the most likely scenario, however, Martinek has played his last game as an Islander.

Comments on this. Draft talk continues below and will eventually re-start above with some SNY pieces.