Jun 27, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Michael Dal Colle (left) is greeted by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman after being selected as the number five overall pick to the New York Islanders in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Bettman to attend opening night at Barclays Center

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman plans to attend the Islanders’ regular-season home opener on Oct. 9 at Barclays Center, Newsday’s Neil Best reports (July 22).

Bettman said it’s his job to attend big events, such as this one, around the league.

“I’m generally in places where something special is happening,” Bettman said at a conference at Prudential Center. “Whether it’s hoisting the Stanley Cup banner, whether it’s the first game in a new building, that’s what I do.”

Despite the move from Nassau Coliseum to Barclays Center, Bettman said he is excited to see the new venue take shape as a hockey arena.

“I think everybody’s very excited about their future in Brooklyn,” Bettman said. “It’ll be different but it’s a nice place to go and the Nassau Coliseum was and is past its due date and so the Islanders needed a new facility. Was [Barclays] built especially for hockey? No, but it’ll be great.”

However, not everyone is happy about the move to Brooklyn. Former Islander Pat LaFontaine, who also spoke at the conference, said is disheartened by the relocation.

“It’s heartbreaking,” LaFontaine said, “to know what they’ve achieved in that building and that place has become a very iconic place and the fact the team last year was able to revive that feeling again, I think made it more difficult.”

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

This is a big event for the NHL and the Islanders, so Gary Bettman’s presence should come as no surprise. Commissioner Bettman has seen the Islanders through several efforts to get a new building out on Long Island and he has been no stranger to making visits out to Nassau Coliseum to take in a game in the past.

As Bettman expressed, the first game at Barclays Center will be a special event for everyone involved. The Islanders didn’t leave the region, but the relocation to Brooklyn is a a drastic change for the franchise that has had a lot in common with its suburban home on Long Island. It wouldn’t be a shock to see the commissioner at a few other games during the course of the season as well, especially the Rangers first visit to Barclays Center in December.


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Could Kirill Petrov make the Opening Night roster?

The Islanders have waited a long time to see what Kirill Petrov can do in the NHL, and early indications are he may break camp with the big club.

On a chat on Twitter on Tuesday, Newsday’s Arthur Staple predicted that Petrov will make the Opening Night roster.

Petrov, 25, scored five goals and 10 assists in 47 games for the Kazan Ak-Bars in the KHL last season. He has posted as many as 16 goals in a season (2011-12).

Brian Erni

That’s a very intriguing prediction. Obviously, a lot of things can change in training camp, but Staple is usually very tuned in to the team’s decision making, so I wouldn’t discount this out of hand.

Petrov, who is 6 foot 3, has a unique combination of size and speed, and it would certainly add a physical dimension to the Isles’ forwards that is needed. I also wouldn’t be fooled by the low KHL point totals. I think, on the right line, Petrov can be a very effective offensive player. If he does make the roster out of camp, it’s will be because he earned it over some other very capable NHL-level players. But right now, it certainly seems like he has the inside track.


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Ryan Strome is confident in the Isles’ young core

The Islanders haven’t made a big splash this summer, but one of their young stars says they’ll be just fine.

In an interview with Islanders Insight, Ryan Strome said he believes the Islanders are on the precipice of big things, and thinks the further development from within will fuel New York’s rise to the top.

“We have some real good young players who are contributing, and [we] don’t really have the need to go out and get that huge body,” Strome told Andy Graziano. “I think obviously [some of the players who were moved this offseason] are great players who would help our team, but you have to let your team grow from within.

“We certainly have key guys now locked in for the next couple of years and we feel we are right there. If we beat Washington in Game 7, anything could have happened. We have tons of confidence in that room and I think [Garth] feels the same way.”

Brian Erni

Strome is certainly one of the players that Snow is relying on to take the next step, and it’s good to hear that he and his fellow teammates (like Anders Lee and Brock Nelson) know the challenge in front of them. At the end of last season, it seemed like Strome had come into his own as a major playmaker. He registered seven points in his final 10 regular season contests, then made his time on the top line in the playoffs count with two goals and two assists. Strome’s 2014-15 season showed he has all the makings of becoming an impact player. A big breakout performance from the Islanders’ 2011 first-round draft pick this year could really add another dimension to this squad.

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The unique financial agreement between the Isles and Barclays Center

The Islanders stand to be a far more lucrative hockey team upon their move to Brooklyn, and it’s on the back of one of the most unique management structures in all of sports.

Stu Hackel of The Hockey News reports the team “no longer administers or controls its own business operation, a highly unusual situation,” (July 19)

“The agreement to move the franchise includes the provision that the arena pays Islanders ownership an annual sum to play at Barclays Center and, in exchange, Barclays Center acquired all ticket and suite sales, sponsorships, marketing and promotions and their revenue. That arrangement was confirmed by Brett Yormark, the CEO of both the Barclays Center and the NBA Brooklyn Nets, the original team in the building, in a late June conversation. Yormark added, ‘Charles made a promise to us and he’s delivered a very good team to us, and we’re going to monetize it.'”

Some outlets have reported the annual sum the Islanders will get under the terms of their 25-year lease is as high as $50 million per season, though Hackel could not confirm that figure.

Brian Erni

There’s a lot to digest in this article, so I highly recommend clicking over to The Hockey News and reading the entire thing. It’s such an interesting dynamic, because we’ve grown so accustomed to hearing about how the Islanders lose money. But with this lucrative deal with Barclays Center on top of the Cablevision contract that will pay them as much as $36 million per season by the time the deal reaches its final season in 2030 (plus revenue sharing, potential expansion charges, etc), Islanders ownership will certainly have plenty of capital to play with.

Apparently, the revenue is capped, so time will tell just how much money the team is leaving on the table by handing over their operations to the Barclays Center’s staff. But Wang, Scott Malkin and Jonathan Ledecky have a downside guarantee from year-to-year that essentially strips away any volatility, while not having to front many overhead costs. That’s a nice gig if you can get it. 


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Islanders sign Louis Leblanc to 1-year, two-way deal

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Minnesota WildThe Islanders have agreed to terms on a 1-year, two-way deal with Louis Leblanc, a first round draft pick by the Montreal Canadiens in 2009.

Leblanc has spent the majority of his career in the American Hockey League with the Hamilton Bulldogs and most recently the Norfolk Admirals. In 71 games last season with the Admirals, he recorded 14 goals and 15 assists for 29 points.  Leblanc did appear in 42 NHL games in 2011-12 with the Canaidens, where he put up 10 points (five goals, five assists). He played in another eight NHL contests in 2013-14.

The Canadiens traded Leblanc to the Anaheim Ducks in June of 2014.

Leblanc was selected 18th overall in the 2009 NHL draft, which was held at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

This isn’t quite the signing that Islanders’ fans were hoping for, but Leblanc is a solid depth signing for the organization. Last year the Sound Tigers were hurting due to all the call ups and saw their season turn into a 28-40-7 disappointment. It’s a safe bet to suggest he will start the year in the minors with the Sound Tigers, who general manager Garth Snow has spent much of the offseason restocking.

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The Hockey News: Isles aren’t broke, so don’t fix it

It’s been a fairly quiet summer for the Islanders, but at least one writer says that’s not a bad thing.

Matt Larkin of The Hockey News says the Isles are in a great position to benefit from continued development from their young forwards, and says it’s the right decision not to tinker with something that works.

“The Isles haven’t surrendered any important pieces of their core considering Griffin Reinhart, whom they dealt to the Oilers, hadn’t cracked their everyday lineup yet. They’ve swapped Thomas Greiss in for Michal Neuvirth as backup goalie. Nothing of consequence other than that. But GM Garth Snow has stocked this team with so much young talent, especially at forward, that improvements should come from within. Brock Nelson, Anders Lee and Ryan Strome are only getting better. Superstar John Tavares hasn’t yet hit his ceiling. The Isles’ depth chart is so packed up front that promising prospects Michael Dal Colle and Josh Ho-Sang have to beat out legit NHLers to make the team. So there was no point adding anyone new.”

Larkin goes on to say that the defensive corps does look thin after the top four (Boychuk, Leddy, Hamonic, and de Haan), but the Islanders should be fine provided they get the anticipated step forward they expect from Ryan Pulock.

Brian Erni

I know some fans are disappointed with this offseason, as they’ve watched teams inside the division add the likes of Brandon Saad, Phil Kessel, and T.J. Oshie. But the Islanders just don’t need to make that kind of move. There are two considerations here as the team moves forward: the depth up front and the salary cap.

The Islanders have been developing from within for ages, and those younger pieces who broke through last season will presumably get better as they spend more time at the pro level. So as much as everyone wants to clamor for a top flight winger, players like Ryan Strome and Anders Lee (or, dare I say, Josh Bailey) can fill that slot on the top line with JT again without the Isles going out and giving up pieces to import someone. Plus, Brock Nelson still needing a new deal, Kyle Okposo’s free agency looming, and John Tavares working his way towards 2018-19 faster than anyone would like, Garth Snow is going to need the space to retain his top talent. Right now, they’re lined up well their future commitments, so barring some tweaks at the deadline, this is the group you’re going to war with. And I’m more than okay with that. 


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NHL: New York Islanders at Los Angeles Kings

Nelson and Poulin did not accept qualifying offers

Restricted free agents Brock Nelson and Kevin Poulin did not accept the Islanders’ qualifying offers prior to Wednesday’s deadline (July 16).

According to Arthur Staple of Newsday, the next deadline for a deal with either player will be September 17, which coincides with the beginning of training camp.

Nelson, 23, had 20 goals and 22 assists while playing all 82 regular season games for the Islanders last season. He added two goals in the playoffs.

Poulin, 25, appeared in just one game for the Islanders last season, saving 23 of 26 shots.

Brian Erni

This was expected. Obviously, Nelson is the more pressing concern here, but the team still has plenty of time to agree to a new deal with him. The Islanders will continue to work on it, and I expect they’ll get something done this summer, though I wouldn’t be surprised if the terms were shorter than Anders Lee’s four-year contract.

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