Free Agency brings out the worst in NHL GMs as the talent pool every year under this CBA will dwindle as teams lock up top talent before they can hit Free Agency and those that do get grossly overpaid, since GM Garth Snow doesn't overpay, the top "names" available on the market aren't usually going to sign in NY, for the most part, I'm fine with that. Could the Islanders use some of the names that move on Frenzy day; sure, but not at some of the deals handed out like Dave Clarkson's 7 year pact with Toronto.
But I digress, the Islanders locked u one of their young and talented players by giving Travis Hamonic a 7 year, $27 million deal. It will take care of the rest of Hamonics RFA years and commits him to the Organization for a while at a less than $4M AAV commitment. Hamonic's shown he can hang with the best of them by giving Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin fits In this year's first round series. Yeah, Hamonic had issues at the beginning of this past season, but he's bound to improve. Also in the coming years his D partner is more likely to be Griffen Reinhart than Andrew MacDonald. Hamonic is what he is, and will only improve, I have no doubts about that.
In addition to Hamonic the Islanders also added Forwards Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Peter Regin and agreed to a one year deal to bring back Evgeni Nabokov.
Regin, who hails from the same town as Frans Neilsen, is a depth signing and a guy who, most likely will sit in the Press box if Brock Nelson makes the team as the second or third line C, Regin's deal is for $750k, so he's a cheaper Marty Reasoner who can play a two way game. Regin has scored as many as 13 in a season, but that was 2009-2010, he's a role player nothing more. Need depth guys in an 82 game season.
Nabokov resigns after pretty much singlehandedly bringing the Isles to and out of of the Playoffs, with Free Agents at Goal being less than desirable (If Bryzgalov was available at a discount, I might have rolled the dice) paying Nabokov the same as last year will be fine. the key for Nabby is the Isles have to use him less. This is two fold, Nabokov was likely gassed by the time he had to face the Penguins in Round 1; after starting something like 88% of the Isles games in the "Regular Season" things probably caught up with Nabokov against the High Flying Pens (who have only lost Tyler Kennedy this year and still have the most potent offense in the New "Atlantic" Division, thank god their D is still vulnerable, even if they added Rob Scuderi for the modest price of 13.5M over 4 years). The Islanders need to know what they have in Kevin Poulin and should be able to find out by giving him more exposure next year in the Regular season in tandem with Nabokov. Hopefully KP can evolve into a 1A and the Islanders can ride the hot hand to another playoff spot.
The curious move, and the one I'm most concerned about is the Addition of C Pierre-Marc Bouchard. As it stands right now, he's moving over to RW to play with John Tavares. When healthy Bouchard is an interesting and under-rated playmaker. He was healthy last season and played a "full" season notching 8 goals and 20 points. Yes, he's a play maker, yes, he might add some defensive prowess to the top line, and yes, he's another pretty good PKer, but he's not a pure scorer, which would help the Isles top line a whole lot more. Right now Teams can double up on John Tavares with ease, one of the most frustrating things is watching Tavares try to power through two guys only to lose the puck, if he had an extra scorer with him who can score from all over, then teams can't as easily bunch up on him. He's done the "try to power through" no matter who else is on his line (Moulson, he largely gets a pass here because he gets down and dirt and below the hashmarks is his turf and John knows how to find him there, he's a perfect pair for Tavares), he did it with PA Parenteau and he did it with Brad Boyes, he'll do it with Pierre-Marc Bouchard as well. He needs a guy who can pop in the puck no matter where he is. Unfortunately the guy like that who was available today went elsewhere when the Anaheim Ducks traded Bobby Ryan. Nathan Horton would have been a good get as well, but how was he going to turn down a 7 year offer from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Bouchard is Garth's latest "catch lightning in a bottle playing with Tavares" gambit, it's worked twice, who knows if it will work again. Color me doubtful.
Isles losses on the day were Jesse Joensuu, who signed in Edmonton for 2 years and Adrian Aucoin, who signed a one year deal with St Louis. Neither are significant losses.
Isles fans expecting a splash were disappointed. I wasn't one, I wanted to see a deal for Bobby Ryan, it didn't have to come today, but it would have been nice. I was also hoping to see a Vet Defenseman in the like of Scuderi but wasn't betting on it. After the Weiss and Horton Deals, the big forwards were off the board. We'll see if Bouchard really is the answer up top, I hope not.