New York Islanders

New York Islanders: Struck Out on Panarin, What’s Plan B?

The New York Islanders have lost out on the Artemi Panarin sweepstakes and quickly need to move to plan B. 

The New York Islanders went all out for coveted free agent Artemi Panarin this past week, but yet, it was not enough. According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, The soon to be 28 year old Russian born star has agreed to terms on an $81.5 million dollar deal over the next 7 years with cross-town rivals the New York Rangers. The question now for the Islanders is “where do they go from here?”

Re-signings

The first thing that was expected and has seem to be finalized is a deal with the captain of the team, Anders Lee. Lee is coming off of a strong season, in which he tallied 28 goals and 23 assists in 82 games played. The Islanders needed to keep Lee on Long Island. If they failed to do so, the Islanders would have been in far worse shape.

According to The Athletic, the deal will be a seven year deal worth seven million per year. This is a good first step in trying to improve a team that desperately needs help in their top 6.

Aside from Lee, the Islanders have two free agents left. Anthony Beauvillier and Michael Dal Colle are restricted free agents and need to be re-signed. You can expect Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello to look to get those contracts done in the next few days.

Trades

The next thing that eventually will go through the head of Lou Lamoriello is to use the trade market. The Islanders are not going to find much more offensive power through UFA’S so working a trade revolving around either Nick Leddy or Thomas Hickey to help the offense seems to be the best route to go. Players such as Jason Zucker and/or Mike Hoffman, seem to be skaters on the market that could instantly boost the top 6 of the team.

Offer Sheet

The final route Lou can take is the one that is more risky than any other route, the offer sheet. There are many RFAs that are out on the market.

With one offer sheet already being thrown out today by the Montréal Canadiens in an attempt to lure Sebastian Aho (Carolina Hurricanes) to the Habs, we could see more coming in the next few days.

The one player everyone has linked the Islanders to is Mitch Marner, but after the signing of Lee that seems to be nothing but a thought. Patrik Laine is another one out there that has not made too much progress with the Jets, but, as with Marner, he will be asking for a price that the Islanders do not have the cap space for. The only way that the Islanders can potentially pull it off is by making some trades and free some cap space up.

Lamoriello has a lot of decisions to make in the next couple of days, and slander fans will be eagerly waiting the news.

Stats from hockey-reference.com

Featured Image Photo Credit – Nikos Michals

You can follow the author of the post, Abin Boris on Twitter @abin_boris

 

2019 NHL Free Agency Predictions

With Free Agency kicking off on Monday, I’ve decided to predict where several UFAs will sign. 

I won’t be predicting an RFA signings, as most likely you won’t see many offer sheets as there hasn’t been an offer sheet that has been accepted/not matched since Dustin Penner signed with the Edmonton Oilers in July 2017. Plus, we haven’t seen a RFA sign an offer sheet since February of 2013, when Ryan O’Reilly signed an offer sheet from the Calgary Flames. So, this post will only be about UFAs.

Forwards

Artemi Panarin (Florida Panthers)- Panarin has been making the rounds to Colorado, New York and Florida among other places but this seems to be the place for “The Breadman” and will sign a long term contract to play with Aleksander Barkov and Joel Quenneville.

Matt Duchene (Nashville Predators)- It has been reported that this move is going to happen even though the Montréal Canadiens are trying to sneak in and steal him. Nashville needs offense and Duchene is coming off a strong season and should improve what was an awful power-play for Nashville.

Joe Pavelski (Colorado Avalanche)- Colorado is ready to make another step after reaching the second round of the playoffs and have loads of cap space. They are going to make some noise and this will be one of several moves.

Mats Zuccarello (Colorado Avalanche)- As I mentioned prior, Colorado has a lot of cap space. The Avalanche have to do something with it and adding two top six forwards to go along with their young core would improve things tremendously.

Anders Lee (New York Islanders)- Reports are that Lee and the Islanders are not close on contract negotiations, but the Islanders can’t let another captain go.

Gustav Nyquist (Columbus Blue Jackets)- Columbus is an interesting spot where they are losing some key players, but they still have some strong pieces to help them stay relevant. They have some money to spend and could use a scoring winger.

Marcus Johansson (Washington Capitals)- The Capitals have some players they would like to resign, but adding back Johansson after a disappointing first round exit will help as they enter the end of their contender window.

Joonas Donskoi (Edmonton Oilers)- The Oilers need someone to be productive next to Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid that isn’t super expensive and Donskoi could be that guy.

Wayne Simmonds (Minnesota Wild)- All of the reports are indicating that the Wild are the favorites for Simmonds. General Manager Paul Fenton seems to be willing to pay him probably more than he deserves at this point in his career. To be fair, Simmonds has been playing on an extraordinary team friendly deal for years, so get get your money Wayne.

Defensemen

Jake Gardiner (Montreal Canadiens)- Montréal is looking to improve what was a mediocre power play and Gardiner can put up offensive numbers when used correctly. This will be an odd sight and it will be amazing when he puts in the OT winner in his first game back in Toronto.

Tyler Myers (Vancouver Canucks)- It is has been rumored for so long. It would shocking if anything else happened.

Anton Strålman (Toronto Maple Leafs)- Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas is busy with the Mitch Marner negotiations, but he will make some moves on defense. I predict that we’ll see Dubas bring back Strålman to replace Ron Hainsey.

Goalies

Sergei Bobrovsky (Florida Panthers)- Again, this had been rumored for so long. It would be shocking to see Bobrovsky not head down to South Florida.

Robin Lehner (Carolina Hurricanes)- After having an outstanding season Lehner can go anywhere he wants and the Carolina Hurricanes will need a starter after losing their two goalies.

Semyon Varlamov (New York Islanders)- After losing Lehner, the Islanders will need a goalie to go with Thomas Greiss. Varlamov is a prime candidate to be a platoon starter.

Cam Talbot (Calgary Flames)-After Brian Elliott resigned in Philadelphia, Talbot needs to find a new place and like so many teams it seems Calgary will platoon David Rittich with someone. A Talbot/Rittich platoon could be a strong one. But, it might be tough for Edmonton Oilers fans to see Talbot wearing a Calgary sweater.

Petr Mrazek (Edmonton Oilers)- Another team that will platoon goaltenders and needs to as Mikko Koskinen can not be the number one guy again.

player profiles – hockey-reference.com 

Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks: Joe Pavelski, Anders Lee and Artemi Panarin

According to Sportsnet, the Chicago Blackhawks are in on three top six forwards. These forwards could help the Blackhawks in all types of ways.

The Chicago Blackhawks need help in their top six after trading away Dominik Kahun for Olli Määtta. They arguably have five top six forward in Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Brandon Saad and Dylan Strome. They need at least one or two more guys to help bolster their top six, and Sportsnet has reported the Blackhawks have interest in three guys in particular.

Artemi Panarin

Embed from Getty Images

Stan Bowman loves to bring the gang back together and there is no reason to believe that he won’t try to bring Panarin back. Panarin was brought over from Russia in 2015 as an undrafted free agent. He instantly found chemistry with (Patrick) Kane, scoring 61 goals and 90 assists for 151 points in 162 games.

But, following the disappointing 2017 playoffs, being swept by the wildcard Nashville Predators in round one, Panarin was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets. In hindsight that deal was one Stan Bowman wishes he could have back. The reason why Panarin was traded was for cap certainty and we can see that now as he is a pending free agent.

For those who don’t know, Panarin, is a flashy scoring winger. He is an extremely creative forward who has excellent puck skills. Artemi Panarin does struggle physically and isn’t a spectacular defensive forward, but that isn’t his role. He’s a super star winger who is a power play specialist. These past two years he proved, he doesn’t need a superstar (Patrick Kane) to help him, that by scoring 55 goals and adding 114 assists for 169 points in 160 games.

As you can see, Panarin, is an amazing forward and plays great in both ends. He also doesn’t let opportunities pass him up.

visual and data from EvolvingHockey

I would expect him to demand close to $9 million for around five to seven years. Not to be forgotten Panarin is only 27 years old. He could be in the ‘Hawks range, but next season Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat become restricted free agents. It is fair to mention Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin have a great relationship which could be a factor. I do see the Blackhawks being interested in him, but I still think he will go to the New York Rangers or Florida Panthers.

Chance of signing: 6/10

Anders Lee

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What is one thing the Blackhawks lack? Well there could be multiple answers to that question. Top four defensemen, forward depth and good penalty killers. I have a different answer, big and physical players. They had one of the smallest teams in the NHL this year (6’1″, smallest and 198 pounds, 3rd smallest). Anders Lee solves that problem as he’s 6’3″ and 230 pounds.

Anders Lee, has spent his whole career on the island with the New York Islanders. He was drafted in the sixth round in 2009. Since then, Lee, has posted 20 goals four times, (five full seasons) three straight 50 point seasons, and in 2017-2018 he scored 40 goals and assisted on 22 others in 82 games.

Lee, is a great possession forward and he is good in both ends. While he might not be great in some categories it’s still above average.

visual and data from EvolvingHockey

nLee, is a top six power forward. He cycles the puck, possesses it very well and plays along the boards. His shot is also very strong and he does well getting in front of the net. He does make mistakes defensively, but by no means is he bad in the defensive zone. Lee, is a good winger to have in your top six and he’s also a leader. He would be excellent on the wing or as a center.

I expect Lee to demand around $6 million for six years. Lee, turns 29 on July 3rd as well. Anders Lee, is a more reasonable option as he fits many of the ‘Hawks needs as well as he’s cheaper, so the Blackhawks have more money for Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome next summer. I believe that the Islanders are still number one on Lee’s list, but the Blackhawks are contenders for him as well.

Chance of signing: 7/10

Joe Pavelski

Embed from Getty Images

As you may recall earlier in this article I stated “What is one thing the Blackhawks lack? Well there could be multiple answers to that question. Top four defensemen, forward depth and good penalty killers.” Well our penalty kill was at a league worst last year (72.7%). With a need for a good penalty killer and a top six forward, Joe Pavelski fits that role perfectly.

Joe Pavelski, was drafted in the seventh round in 2003. Pavelski, has since scored 20 goals seven times, 60 points six times and has received at least one vote for the Selke award (top defensive forward) 11 times (in a row). Five of those time he was in the top 20.

Pavelski, is an exceptional two-way forward. He plays hard in both ends and is constantly under hard minutes (19:03).

visual and data from EvolvingHockey

Just like the other two forwards, Joe Pavelski is a top six forward. He’s a shifty playmaker who can play any forward position, he’s good on faceoffs and has an outstanding shot. Pavelski, can play very well in the defensive zone taking away pucks, blocking shots and just having excellent positioning. Pavelski, helps in the top six, penalty kill and power play.

It has been rumored that Joe Pavelski wants $5 million with “some” term. So we can probably eliminate a one to two year deal. Not to mention he is 34 currently. Pavelski, is a pretty reasonable option except for the fact he wants term on his deal. While, Pavelski, has stated he wants to go back to San Jose, they only have $15.3 million in cap space to re-sign him, Kevin Labanc, Joonas Donskoi, Joe Thornton, Gustav Nyquist, Timo Meier, Dylan Gambrell, Tim Heed and Joakim Ryan. I don’t think a deal will get done. The Wisconsin native has been rumored to be interested in coming to Chicago as well.

Chance of signing: 8/10

Conclusion

When all is said and done the Blackhawks need to make moves this season. Whether that be for a top six forward, a top four defenseman and/or etc. Something needs to happen this offseason and we can’t sit pat like we did last offseason.

stats from: Elite Prospects, Hockey-Reference and Evolving-Hockey

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals

Puck77 Interview: Matt O’Leary of Eyes On Isles

Last night, Matt O’Leary of Eyes On Isles (New York Islanders blog site on FanSided) and I spoke regarding the Islanders farm system and their off-season plans.

I asked O’Leary several questions in regards to the Islanders. We talked about Jordan Eberle‘s contract extension, the possibility of adding Artemi Panarin, the goaltender of the future and more.

Let’s take a look at what O’Leary had to say.

Interview

Josh: What are your general thoughts on the Jordan Eberle contract extension? 

Matt: I think this is a very fair deal for Jordan Eberle. Obviously, he is coming off a down year but with how he finished the regular season and performed in the playoffs it’s hard not to assume that he will return to form and be the 50+ point player that he’s been throughout his career. If he does go back to putting up the numbers that we’re used to $5.5 million seems like a steal. You also can’t go without mentioning the fact that he wanted to extend with this team, which speaks volumes to Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz’s impact.

Josh: With the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers making quite a bit of noise so far, how do you believe that the Islanders will counteract. Do you believe that Lou Lamoriello might make a big splash and add a free agent like Artemi Panarin or do you believe he’ll look at doing a blockbuster trade?

Matt: He definitely has to do something to the top-six. Even if they bring back Anders Lee they should look to add someone like Artemi Panarin. The competition for him is sure to be steep but at the end of the day, Lou might have to pony up to get him. If the Isles miss out on him, then I could absolutely see them looking to move Nick Leddy in hopes for some forward help up front.

Josh: Do you believe that Anders Lee is in the Islanders’ long-term plans? If no, who do you believe might captain the Islanders after Lee?

Matt: I think at the end of the day Anders re-signs here. The Tavares situation from last year leaves a sour taste in our mouths but that’s honestly such a unique situation. I think the Islanders are looking for a shorter term deal while Lee is looking for more year. Ultimately a five or six year deal with a $7 million AAV should get it done.

Josh: Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss split time in net this year. Given the success that Lehner and Greiss had, do you believe that there will roughly a 50-50 split next season as well?

Matt: Assuming that Lou re-signs Robin Lehner, which he should, yes I think it will be a similar split with Robin getting the slight edge. It worked out so well last year it’s hard not to go back to the same formula. Lehner became a fan favorite last year with not only his play on the ice but his off the ice story and his openness on mental health. It’d be in the best interest of everyone to make sure Lehner is in blue and orange next year.

Josh: While Ilya Sorokin has looked outstanding in the KHL, the Islanders also have Linus Söderström in their system. Based on what you’ve seen from both goalies, who do you believe will be the next number one goalie for the Islanders?

Matt: I think Ilya Sorokin is the better of the two it’s just a matter of if he ever comes over from the KHL. His deal expires after this year so there’s a chance that he could come over but would he if Robin Lehner is under contract for the foreseeable future? With Linus Söderström it’s hard to judge, he missed all of this year with an injury, but from looking at his SHL numbers he’s been fairly solid and is an intriguing prospect.

Josh: Michael Dal Colle has taken a while to develop. Do you have any concern in regards to Dal Colle?

Matt: Michael Dal Colle is never going to be the player they drafted him to be in the top-five. At this point, if you can get him to be a solid third line winger I think you sign up for it but it seems like that’s his ceiling which is obviously a huge letdown considering where you took him in the draft.

Josh: Josh Ho-Sang had a great season in Bridgeport last year. Given how many pending free agents the Islanders have, do you believe that Ho Sang could have a full-time role at the NHL level next season? Or, does Ho Sang need more time in the AHL?

Matt: For Ho-Sang, I would love to see him get time in the NHL. For whatever reason, the Islanders and Ho-Sang just can’t seem to figure out what the issue is. They want him to be more defensive minded and cut down on turnovers but he’s at his best when he has the puck and is trying to make plays. In limited sample sizes, he’s shown that he can be a pretty solid playmaker, I just don’t know if it will ever work out here considering the Islanders also have Oliver Wahlstrom and Keiffer Bellows who are pretty close to being ready to make the jump to the NHL. 

Josh: Mathew Barzal is entering his contract season and will be a pending RFA on July 1, 2020. Given the contracts that we’ve seen Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs and other sign, how much do you predict that Barzal will earn in his next deal?

Matt: I really think it depends on what he does this year. Is he giving you 60-70 points again like he did this past year, or is he going back to a point per game player? Right now, I’ll give an $8 million – $10 million AAV range depending on what he does this year. If it’s another 60 point season look for it to be closer to $8 million. If he’s back to his ways from his Calder season it’ll be closer to $10 million.

Thank You

Thank you Matt for taking the time to speak with me. Looking forward to interviewing you again in the future.

 
player profiles – hockey-reference.com

Talking About The New York Islanders With Andy Graziano Of WFAN

Recently, I had the privilege of speaking with Andy Graziano (@AndyGraz_WFAN) of WFAN about the New York Islanders.

Graziano is a columnist for WFAN660 in New York City. He specifically covers the New York Islanders and recently he’s written quite a few posts on the team’s farm system and their off-season plans

In my interview with Graziano, we talked about both (the farm system and the off-season). He talked about Jordan Eberle’s new contract, who will general manager Lou Lamoriello look to re-sign, who will the Islanders target in free agency and how their farm system is doing.

The Interview

Josh: Earlier today, Jordan Eberle signed an extension with the Islanders. Are you surprised that Eberle didn’t try to test the market? In addition, what are your general thoughts on the deal?

Andy: I am surprised, yes. I felt that of all the Islanders free agents, Eberle would be the one to go. But Lou Lamoriello had other ideas and meant what he said when he commented at the end of the season, ‘We would like to bring all our free agents back’. Eberle represents a winger who would have been in high demand had he made it to the open market, averaging 25 goals per season over his career with incredible consistency. Last year, he suffered, as many teammates did, as New York switched to a more defensive system under Barry Trotz. But in the playoffs showed everyone what he was capable of. I feel he would have commanded many offers on July 1 from teams looking to add punch to their lineups. What’s most important about the signing is that it shows that Long Island is quickly becoming a desirable destination. Players around the league notice those things and talk to each other all the time, especially when deciding where to commit their futures. When was the last time a player took a pay-cut on a multi-year deal weeks before becoming a free agent? To stay with the Islanders? I can’t remember. 

Josh: Do you believe that the Islanders will look to re-sign Anders Lee, Tom Kühnhackl and/or Valtteri Filppula? If they don’t, who do you believe that they will target?

Andy: I think Anders Lee gets signed and all indications from people I’ve spoken with believe the same. It’s term that they are trying to work through, but Lamoriello and Neil Sheehy will get it done. I can’t see Kuhnhackl coming back as he was just a spare part anyway and the Islanders have to start making some room for the likes of Michael Dal Colle, Josh Ho-Sang (should he remain with the club), Kieffer Bellows and Oliver Wahlstrom. With New York weak down the middle, I can see Filppula coming back on another one-year deal to play C3, but that will have to be on Lou’s terms and Lou’s terms only. He had a strong season and is perfect for Trotz’s system. All sources are pointing to a full court press on Artemi Panarin. That will cost a ton, certainly north of $10 million AAV, but the Islanders know what they need – a bonafide sniper. However, I don’t see them getting it this year. I’m sticking with the Rangers and Florida as the most likely destinations for him.

Josh: What are your thoughts on Arnaud Durandeau? 

Andy: I’ve never seen him play, but what I heard is that he is a flashy offensive player with an ‘agitating’ aspect to his game. His speed and stickhandling is most often mentioned in all scouting reports. Others say that his overall skill level is not up to snuff and he’s best suited for a 3/4 line role. Time will tell, maybe the Islanders have another Anthony Beauvillier on their hands, at worst its a risk that didn’t cost them much.

Josh: With Robin Lehner hitting the market and Ilya Sorokin looking like the goalie of the future, do you believe that the Islanders will bridge Lehner until Ilya Sorokin is ready?

The problem here is similar to Lee and that’s how long do you go in term on the contract? I am not one of those who believe that KHL success is a precursor to NHL success. There are few strong teams in the KHL and almost all goaltenders have terrific statistics. That being said, everyone in the organization is excited and frothing at the mouth to get him over here, so the jury is still out. I hope he turns into everything people are projecting him to be, as that will benefit a team that has been looking for stability in goal for a long time. Lehner is an interesting case. He had his ups and downs with Buffalo, then comes here under Trotz and shares the Jennings Trophy with Thomas Greiss along with earning a Vezina nod. That’s quite the season on a one-year ‘prove-it’ deal. We shall see if he shares the same mindset as Eberle. Keep in mind, he has a little leverage also over Lamoriello, who knows he doesn’t have a suitable replacement in the pipeline in the short-term. Market is very weak on goaltending this summer outside of Sergei Bobrovsky and he’s not an Islanders target at the moment.

Josh: The Islanders defense was outstanding last season, but do you believe that an upgrade is still needed? 

Andy: On defense, no. Offensively for sure. With Noah Dobson and Bode Wilde coming along with the maturation of Ryan Pulock and Devon Toews, they are in very good shape on the blueline for a long time. Not to mention adequate second and third pair guys as well in David Quenneville and Sebastian Aho. It’s one of the main reasons Nick Leddy and Thomas Hickey are on the trade block with at least one of them expecting to be moved at the draft.

Josh: Kieffer Bellows seemed to have a rough season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers last season. Is there any reason to be concerned about his development?

Andy: Not at the moment no. It’s a huge leap for some to the professional level and Bellows is a proven enough shooter that I have not heard of any concerns regarding his development. He might be best served with another year at Bridgeport to ensure he builds his confidence level before coming to the Islanders.

Josh: Do you believe that Oliver Wahlstrom has a shot to make the Islanders opening night roster?

Andy: A chance, sure. Likely? I’m not so sure. Lamoriello is on record as stating that he doesn’t like to rush prospects and holds a certain affinity for veterans to get him through the grind of an 82-game season and playoffs. We saw it this year in the way Ho-Sang was handled as well as Michael Dal Colle. I would much rather see Wahlstrom playing big minutes under Brent Thompson than third or fourth line under Trotz. I don’t think that benefits his development at all. That being said, if the Islanders strike out in the trade market and free agency, all bets might be off. His chances of breaking camp will be dramatically increased.

Thank You

Thank you Andy for taking the time to speak with me. Look forward to interview you again in the future!

player profiles – hockey-reference.com