Canada Day brings with it the start of the NHL's yearly "One day sale of the year" on Free Agents. This is also a day of dread for most Islanders fans who haven't had much to cheer about with regards to free agent signings, there's usually head scratchers that become Fan Favorites (Zenon Konopka anyone) and the sort who sign and don't make the big team (Trevor Frischmon), but the Isles tend not to acquire the biggest names in Free Agency, but to the chagrin and dream smashing (or reality as it were) of fans.
The Islanders however were fairly active today losing three players to the Frenzy and adding the same number back to the ranks. So, let us review, shall we?
Simply Put, Carkner is one mean son of a bitch. Islanders fans may remember his absolute beating of Tim Jackman a couple years ago, yeah, he hasn't stopped fighting since. Carkner signed for 3 years and 4.5M dollars, or a salary cap hit of 1.5M....which is to say, not bad. Carkner is a swingman, so you can line him up on the 3rd D pair, or if you skate 7 D he's perfect to line up on a Wing in a Defensive zone draw late in the game. He's not known for his offense, but the Isles have plenty of puck movers. In the battle ready Atlantic Division adding Carkner was essential to the Islanders who had been employing the likes of Trevor Gillies for those division match-ups. Carkner can provide some minutes on the ice when not sitting in Time out and isn't going to average 1:14 or something absurd like that. Also, fans have complained about JT needing protection...in case of violent hit on Tavares, see Carkner, Matt.
Brad Boyes was once a 40 goal scorer, sure it was 5 years ago, but can you name how many former 40 goal scorers the Islanders have signed in the last 3 seasons? If you answered "None Matt, we know our team and we would've RAVED about this 3 seasons ago when the Rebuild was in it's leanest of FA periods, but all we want to do is complain about Micheal Haley," Well, okay, more on that later. Boyes popped 43 goals in 2007 for the Saint Louis Blues on a team that featured a lot of good talent. Boyes backed that up in 2008 with a 33 G campaign and struggled the last couple of years. Last year he bottomed out. He's only 30, but playing with either John Tavares or a good Second Line Center (I'm thinking the battle will be between Ryan Strome who would help tons, or Casey Cizikas, who's also pretty good at feeding the puck) and plenty of PP time you'll see a return to respectability for Boyes. It's a perfect signing, if he's not good, he's replaceable and only cost a million. If he posts a bounce back year, well, then he'll be worth every one of those 100M pennies.
Or shall we say, the New Gillies? Boulton's a tried and true fighter who still can skate a bit and helps solidify the 4th line that Marty Reasoner will again Pivot. No word on his cap hit, but it shouldn't be too much. He can fight, he's not going to back down from anyone and he might allow the Isles to move Matt MArtin up a line....I see no negatives with this signing. I also forgot Boulton was a F and confused him with Francois Bouillion...no matter, he's an enforcer and some Extra Grit.
The Departed (amazing Movie....Go watch it now)
Since his Acquisition for Greg Moore in 2010, Dylan Reese has been a reliable organizational D who stepped up to be a Leader for the Sound Tigers and a somewhat reliable 7 or 8 D when one of the guys on Long island got hurt. Reese was the perfect Org D. He signed a 1 year, two-way deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins. I have no ill-will towards the Harvard Grad who did everything asked of him. He got an opportunity to play with a team he grew up cheering, who in their right mind passes that up (Not Jason Garrison...who's deal is a HUGE risk for the Canucks who have literally 0 margin for Error)?
"Matt, it's absolutely disgusting that the Isles let Haley walk to the Hated Rangers." Well...ummm...no. Haley's departure stings, and it sucks, and I can throw out a huge number of adjectives, but in reality the Rangers can provide Haley with Ice time, the Islanders likely can't. Haley's a cheap way to replace Brandon Prust (who's deal with Montreal is probably the worst of the day), and his first year of the deal is Two-way so if he fits in, he stays, if not he returns to Connecticut. Haley has grit, and heart and all the things Isles fans love about him come from one night of being tired of being brow beaten by the league and taking it out on the aforementioned Penguins. Haley put up solid numbers in the AHL where he's a top 6 threat...in the NHL...well, not so much. he'll be a bastard to play against, but the Islanders replaced him months ago when they signed Mike Halmo, who at the time I likened to a young Sean Avery. Rangrs wanted some toughness, so they went out and got the undersized bulldog in Haley. The Islanders wanted Toughness and signed Matt Carkner...and threw in Eric Boulton for good measure...I see no loss here.
For the man who wanted to stay so bad, the money drove him away. Look, PA is a pretty solid player. You want him on your shootout and on the ice when you have the man advantage. For the first time in his career he put up numbers resembling a 1st line player...mostly because he payed with a 1st line C in John Tavares. JT is better than Stastny or Duchene the new Pivots PAP will line up with. "But Matt, he produced 11 points in 17 games without playing on Tavares' Wing! Fire Garth, Fire him NOW!" Okay, okay, calm down. Let's do some fuzzy math for a minute here and say 17 games is JUST over 1/5th of a hockey season, let's do some simple extrapolation and say that 11 points times 5 is 55 points....which is 12 points less than PA's 67 last year. is a potential 12 point drop worth 4M a season for 4 years? "Yeah, but he's great on the power play, those 55 theoretical points are discounting his PP time! We still need to fire Garth, he's worthless." Alright soldier, I said the math was fuzzy, lemme put it to you this way, David Jones is a Winger for PA's new team the Colorado Avalanche. Like PA, Jones was picked in the 9th round of his draft class, and the similarities end there. Jones went to Dartmouth in place of Juniors and was alright to solid in the AHL before making it to the big leagues. Jones also never put up big numbers and only in the last two season has scored pedestrian point totals of 37 and 45 respectfully. PA was a 9th rounder who never really was a huge prospect but sort of put it together in the AHL along the way but struggled every time he got the call to the NHL. PA was given a guaranteed contract by a small market team with a top talent,raw C of the Future and took off notching 120 points in 2 seasons with John Tavares. Now, ready for the punch in the gut? David Jones and PA Parenteau make the EXACT SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY FOR THE NEXT 4 YEARS! "But Matt, you're clearly not seeing the big picture, PA was valuable to us!" Ummm sorry boy wonder, but again, Parenteau rode shotgun to one of the most underrated Centers in the NHL, made tons of mistakes n the neutral zone and was often undisciplined when it came to the refs in some situations. "Oh Man, are you fist F***ing me right now??" Exactly bro.
Look, PA is a good player, but you stick anyone on the Tavares-Moulson line and they're going to have solid numbers by the end of 82 games together. it doesn't matter, John Tavares is the sort of player than makes anyone better. Seriously, I'm sure you could make a 200 lb block of Cheddar cheese in the shape of Zach Parise, put it on that line with remote controlled skates and it would score 20 goals, that's how good Tavares is.
In conclusion of the day, did the Isles become a playoff team; hell no, they still need some help. Did the Islanders fill significant holes with players that are at least viable and at prices that won't suck if we have to waive them; absolutely...it was a pretty solid day.