There are some things happening on Long Island, unlike the last few Julys. By all accounts, the draft party was successful. The fans were psyched about the trade for Visnovsky. Lubomir is a “Wang special” (higher cap hit than payout) but he’s a Top 4 D, one year removed from a 70 point campaign. He represents a big cog on the backline for next year and the fufillment of one of those acquisitions Garth Snow spoke of.
He’s reinforced by the hulking Griffin Reinhart, taken at number 4 in this year’s entry draft. Reinhart will not be in the NHL this year, fret not. That’s a good thing. Any good D should be allowed to marinade, first in juniors, then in the “A”. Let the record show this intrepid reporter said they would trade out of 4 and draft a D. They stayed at 4, made a trade, and got a D via the draft anyway. I’ll take partial credit, kids.
On the farm, a short bus ride away, Bridgeport’s defense will have two of Aaron Ness, Calvin DeHaan and Matt Donovan on the ice. The other will see minutes on LI as the 6th D. Rounding out the Blueline prospects should be Brenden Kichton, expected to sign a deal this week. The Isles drafted 7 defensemen, proving BPA (best player available) was in fact their strategy. The pipeline is strong on the blueline, but we need one more NHL D. Jason Garrisson or Bryan Allen would be a good get. Darkhorse candidate? Sheldon Brookbank.
Up front, P.A. Parenteau will be departing. Sorry y’all, it’s a done deal.
Kyle Okposo will begin the season on John Tavares wing if Snow has his druthers. He likes their chemistry together. He’s said as much in front of me.
That leaves you with Moulson-Tavares-Okposo. The 2nd line is the question. Bailey and Nielsen will be on the third line with Ullstrom or Joenssuu in all likelyhood. Grabner and two other components will be needed to offer consistant secondary scoring.
We are 2 to 3 UFA or trade acquisitions away from competing. Unfortunately, I’ve said that for years.
However the rebuffed offer to Schultz, the inquiry on Ryan, The Vis trade, the attempted draft trade up… they all indicate the Isles are ready to make a move or 2 and compete. Who the team targets to enable that competition is important.
Who this team goes into camp complimenting Grabner with on the second line and who is signed to mentor the chosen prospect who makes the jump from the Bridge to the Island on the 3rd D pairing will be the keys in determining whether or not this team can finally punch a ticket to the playoffs.
A plug like Brookbank or even beloved Isle of years gone bye of Adrian Aucoin for 2 years would help, give time for the final seasoning of Kichton, DeHaan, Ness, and Donovan. If the offseason consists of re-signing Dylan Reese or a similar guy as a 7th D, adding Olli Jokinen as that second line pivot, and bringing in Aucoin, Brookbank or someone else as the 5, I’d be content. If the Isles swing for the fences and bring in a big fish allowing them to essentially have 5 top 4 D, even better!
Tomorrow, at noon, the fun begins. Strap in.