The Hockey Writers: Leddy is NHL’s ninth-best defenseman

Nick Leddy is going to be an Islander for a long time, and The Hockey Writers think that’s a very good thing.

In the first installment of their two-part series breaking down the NHL’s top-10 defensemen, the publication ranked Leddy No. 9, just two spots below former teammate and reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner Duncan Keith.

“When on the ice last season, [Leddy’s] team had possession of the puck for 55 percent of the time, good for fifth in the NHL,” James Tanner writes. “In two less minutes per game, and two less games overall, he put up virtually the same stats as Duncan Keith.  Leddy is comparable to Keith over the last three seasons, but he’s averaged four less minutes per game.”

Leddy, 24, signed a seven-year, $38.5 million extension with the Islanders last February.

Brian Erni

Tanner writes what many Islanders fans have been saying for a while. In fact, I’m not even sure some of the orange-and-blue faithful realize just how good Leddy is. Remember that late-season lull? It all started with Leddy missing four games (the team went 0-4 during his absence). His possession stats speak for themselves, and there aren’t many players in the league who are better carrying the puck over center to generate a chance in the opposing team’s zone.

Leddy is so smooth and comfortable, it’s hard to believe he’s still just 24 years old. With his name already on the Cup, Leddy can certainly go from underrated to acclaimed if he’s able to carry his team deep into the playoffs like Keith did this past postseason.

Apr 25, 2015; Uniondale, NY, USA; A general view of the ice surface prior to the final game that the Islanders will play in Nassau Coliseum between the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders in game six of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Melted Nassau Coliseum ice used for baptism

Nassau Coliseum’s playing surface might be gone, but one fan still got use out of the 43-year-old ice.

After the Coliseum shut its doors, the Islanders allowed fans to purchase portions of the melted ice for $20. One fan, who purchased melted ice from the now-defunct arena, used the water for his daughter’s baptism (Aug. 11, ESPN).

“That’s awesome, awesome,” Mike Golic said on ESPN’s Mike and Mike. “You got some ice, it melted, they blessed it to use for the baptism, on we go.”

Recently, a hockey fan in Sweden did the same thing for his daughter, using melted ice from his local team’s arena (Aug. 10).

Apr 16, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Detroit Red Wings defenseman Marek Zidlicky (28) skates with the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period in game one of the first round of the the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Islanders in talks with Marek Zidlicky

The Islanders and veteran defenseman Marek Zidlicky have been in talks about a possible contract, Newsday’s Arthur Staple reports (Aug. 12).

Staple added that nothing has been determined, but both sides are interested.

Zidlicky, 38, who joined the Devils midway through 2011-12, was traded halfway through last season from New Jersey to the Red Wings. In 84 games between the two teams, he finished with 34 points.

For his career, Zidlicky 85 goals, 316 assists and a minus-69 rating in 783 games.

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

This would certainly fill the need for another veteran defenseman on the blue line and Zidlicky could help the Islanders struggling power play. The soon-to-be 39-year-old has strong shot from the point and doesn’t back down on the blue line, despite his smaller stature.

Defense is one area that I think the Islanders need to upgrade during the offseason, even more so than finding a winger for John Tavares. Zidlicky would be a solid addition to the Islanders defensive core, but they still could use another top-4 defensemen to round out the unit.


Why the black-and-white third jersey might not be all bad

Brian Erni

The time is almost upon us. Soon, we’ll see what Brett Yormark and company have in store for the Islanders’ new third jersey. And despite the fact that we knew as far back as two years ago that it would be black-and-white, some fans still seemed shocked and appalled at the idea.

Let’s get this out of the way: I, too, would prefer the third jersey be rendered in blue-and-orange. Black is not an Islanders color. Teams who turn to black jerseys strictly because they view it as a trend (or Black For Black’s Sake, as it’s called on Uni Watch) are misguided. The 1990’s are long gone, local teams who tried to shoehorn black into their color schemes (the Mets and Knicks) have seen the error of their ways, and the Islanders’ first experiment with a black jersey was a cataclysmic failure.

Frans Nielsen skating in a black practice jersey last season

Frans Nielsen skating in a black practice jersey last season

However, let’s not ignore two elements to all this: 1) we’re very lucky the Isles aren’t getting a full re-brand, and 2) the current third jersey does have its flaws.

Yormark admitted that he originally planned to completely overhaul the Islanders’ look upon their move to Barclays Center, but changed his mind thanks to fervent outcry from the fan base on social media. One can’t really blame Yormark for assuming the Isles would benefit from a redesign. After all, the Nets went from 31st in the NBA in merchandise sales (yes, they were outsold by the defunct Seattle Sonics) in their final year in New Jersey to the top-selling brand upon the release of their new gear. But the Nets aren’t a franchise with the storied history the Islanders have, and there was never a lot of brand equity in their various designs. The Islanders sweater and logo is the symbol of arguably the greatest dynasty in sports, and — as we know — it should never be changed.

At least Yormark was smart enough to open his ears to the Islanders faithful. Which is to say, no, the team’s management isn’t trying to alienate you with a black-and-white third jersey, as some fans asked me on Twitter on Tuesday. They’re trying to monetize the move by putting something new on the ice that fans can buy. Sure, the idea that black-and-white are the colors of the borough is kind of hokey, and reeks of a good marketing guy buying his own shtick, but considering we almost lost our colors and logo again, I’d say having to see the team in black-and-white a few times a year is a fair compromise.

I know a lot of fans are bemoaning the loss of the Stadium Series jersey as an alternate. It’s true, I liked that look as well, but the design had its flaws. Remember, that jersey was designed as a template, with the metallic crest element meant to tie into Coors Light’s sponsorship of the Series in 2014. The weird, diagonal, half sleeve stripes didn’t seem to have much of a purpose, and why was the shoulder yoke pointed? I still haven’t heard a good explanation for that one.

There’s a lot of pressure on Barclays Center management not to swing and miss on this one, because many fans are already predisposed to hate it. So don’t be surprised if some popular elements (like the ‘NY’ crest from the Stadium Series jersey) are featured, and the striping is very traditional. There are a number of ways to go with it, and — if executed properly — it could just be a nice look for 10 games or so during the regular season. The new management knows not to mess with the tradition of the primaries, and that is what’s most important.


Papal visit to Philly could cause traffic headaches after Flyers, Isles exhibition game

Apr 7, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Islanders center Ryan Strome (18) battles with Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Nick Schultz (55) during the third period at Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers defeated the Islanders, 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

The game will go on, for now.

Thats what Philadelphia Flyers officials told the Philadelphia Daily News about the scheduled Sept. 25 preseason matchup between the Flyers and Islanders at Wells Fargo Center. Massive road closures, due to Pope Frances’ planned visit to the City of Brotherly Love on Sept. 26 and 27, could affect fans trying to leave the exhibition contest. Nearby Temple University will close its campus on Sept. 25 due to the papal visit the following two days

More details on the road closures from the Daily News:

According to Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Leslie S. Richards, starting at 10 p.m. (minutes after the game is due to end), all of the Vine Street Expressway and parts of I-76 and Route 1 will be closed. The Benjamin Franklin Bridge also will shut down to vehicular traffic at the same time, though PATCO trains are still set to run Friday night, possibly with an adjusted schedule.

While this is more of a problem for fans of the Flyers than the Islanders, it will make leaving the Wells Fargo Center a bit more hectic for any Isles’ fans that make the trip to Philly or live in the area. It could also make the trek back to New York tougher for the Islanders, who don’t necessarily leave right after the game is over and could get caught in the traffic congestion that will result from the road closures.

The preseason game against the Flyers is a split squad game, with half of the team in Philly and the other half in New Jersey taking on the New Jersey Devils. It is one of eight games on the Isles’ preseason calendar.


Sound Tigers ink Matt Carkner to two-year, AHL deal

NHL: New York Islanders at Buffalo SabresMatt Carkner will be a member of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for the next two years, the Islanders’ minor league affiliate announced Tuesday.

The 34-year-old defenseman signed an AHL contract to remain in the organization. Newsday’s Arthur Staple reported that Carkner will have a player/coach role in Bridgeport (August 11).

Carkner did not play in the NHL last season due to injury. He started the 2014-15 season on injured reserve and then had surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back in November. The Islanders loaned Carkner to the Sound Tigers on February 16 and he played in 19 games in the AHL.

The veteran defenseman recorded two goals and an assist in that span.

Carkner joined the Islanders in July 2012, signing a three-year, $4.5 million contract.

brock nelson

Staple: No news on a new deal for Brock Nelson

With Opening Night just 59 days away, all is quiet on the Brock Nelson front.

Newsday’s Art Staple says that there is no news on contract talks between the restricted free agent and Islanders. (Aug 11)

Nelson, 23, scored 20 goals and tallied 22 assists in 82 games with the Isles last season.

Brian Erni

Obviously, there’s still time for the team and Brock to get something done, but I would certainly be more encouraged had Staple given any indication the two sides had made progress. No news seems to imply the two sides still have significant room between them. That doesn’t mean something won’t get done in the next month or so, it just seems more and more likely that it could be a short-term bridge deal.