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New York Islanders forward John Tavares (91) watches the play against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The New York Islanders defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in the overtime. (James Guillory)
New York Islanders forward John Tavares (91) watches the play against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The New York Islanders defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in the overtime. (James Guillory)

Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter

Training camp is now less than four weeks away for the New York Islanders, as players will report for physicals on Wednesday, September 21 at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow, New York.

This will not be the same team from the top down that we saw last season in Tampa, losing to the Lightning 4-0 on May 8, bowing out of the second round of the playoffs in five games. This summer brought many changes in management and personnel that will shape where the organization is headed after three playoff appearances in the past four years and advancing past the first round in 2015-16 for the first time since 1992-93.

Jon Ledecky/Scott Malkin: The Islanders new management team (85% stake) took over officially on July 1, but has been behind the scenes for the past two years watching the team and how it is run. Ledecky this summer has made it his priority to work with the management team at Barclays Center to address fans' concerns, holding a session with the media in Manhattan and then following up with two town hall type discussions with fans themselves. Beyond all that, rumors began leaking of New York pursuing other 'options' in the New York metro area for a possible new arena. Whether this was just a clever ploy by Ledecky or something more serious remains to be seen. Either way, it was a brilliant way to exert your authority and show right from the start you are taking fans complaints and gripes seriously. Initially, Ledecky doesn't seem like the type to sit around and purely rely on the team performance on the ice to dictate how active he is. He seems very vested and involved on the business side, already with Malkin being more the 'silent partner' type.

Big losses up front: Maybe John Tavares really was bothered when close friend Matt Moulson was traded to Buffalo a couple seasons back when general manager Garth Snow took a chance on Thomas Vanek. But Tavares understands by now it's a business and even though he loses some close friends this off-season, I can't see him being deterred in the least from his ultimate goal of seeing this team through four rounds of playoff hockey.

Kyle Okposo was a great soldier, spending his entire nine-year career with the Islanders before shuffling off to Buffalo this summer. After putting up 184 points in 210 games over the last three seasons, he was limited in some facets of his game, especially on the defensive side of the puck. Maybe that's what Snow saw in the future when he decided to not even hold extension talks with the winger prior to him becoming an unrestricted free agent. Have to admit, he made the right call ultimately with the aforementioned Moulson deal.

Frans Nielsen is probably the hardest Islander to replace, as he 'wanted a change' and took a less gratuitous offer from the Detroit Red Wings to join the proud and outstanding franchise in free agency. Nielsen just started to discover his offensive game, producing 153 points in 239 games the last three seasons and scoring 50% of his career goals (25,14,20) over that same span. He was, clearly, the team's best defensive forward and that is where the loss of his invaluable contributions will be felt the most.

Matt Martin was a warrior on the ice and a teddy bear off it. Always welcoming to all kinds, whether it was the media or fans, he spent countless hours in the community spreading good vibes to almost everyone he encountered. On the ice, it's clear Martin was a one dimensional fourth line winger, and with fighting on the decline across the league, was the easiest of the three to replace in terms of pure production.

New faces: Out with the old and in with the new as the popular saying goes. Andrew Ladd joins and should, riding shotgun with Tavares, replace Okposo's offensive numbers while bringing much more responsible defensive hockey. Add to that his valuable experience of 769 NHL games and two Stanley Cups, and you can clearly see why his contributions were so coveted by Snow. Ladd should be an extremely suitable and positive replacement for Okposo. The expectation is that head coach Jack Capuano will be placing an 'A' on his sweater.

P.A Parenteau, by all accounts, including his own, was longing to return to the Island and reignite the fire that led to offensive numbers he produced while playing with Tavares back in 2010-2012 (120 points in 161 games). Now 33 years of age and coming off a productive season in Toronto (20-21-41 in 77), if he approaches 60 points here yet again, there won't be a disappointed person across the entire organization and fan base. Belief around the league might be Nielsen to Parenteau is a step-down for New York, but this guy can still play.

Jason Chimera has spent the last six and a half seasons with the Washington Capitals and last year, at age 36, produced 40 points, playing 14 minutes a night under Barry Trotz. It was two points from his career high, set in 2013-14, and his 20 goals tied a career high. Chimera has always had remarkable wheels, and that speed and tenacity on the forecheck should replace Martin with little difficulty.

Youngsters: Ryan Pulock will get the extended look this year that fans have been waiting for. Penciled in to begin the season in the top six with the departures of Marek Zidlicky and Brian Strait, it's finally time to see what the 21-year-old, Mantioba native has for us all. We know about the booming slap shot and his power play proficiency, but it will be how he plays in his own end that will define his season.

All eyes in camp will be focused on Michael Dal Colle and Joshua Ho-Sang but they are more than likely ticketed for Bridgeport. Everyone should really be watching Matthew Barzal closely. His only options are the big club or back to Seattle of the WHL for a fourth and final season of junior hockey. He almost made the club last year and with hip issues this summer now behind him, stands an even better chance this time around

Shane Prince will get an opportunity as a third liner, but the play of Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome could define how productive and dangerous the offense ultimately is. Lee struggled before heating up, then breaking his leg. Nelson started with a flurry, then tailed off meekly in the second half leading into the playoffs. Strome's entire season was a disaster and it will be interesting to see how mentally strong he is entering camp.

Three goalies?: With Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss away from camp due to World Cup of Hockey commitments, J.F Berube will be the man at its onset. Either way, New York cannot expect to carry and keep happy all three for very long. This is a situation that might not get worked out until teams see just how healthy Halak is, as he figures to be the logical trade candidate. He might not see any minutes in Toronto, so this could drag into the season and become a distraction.

Hockey is coming, fast and furious. The summer is almost over, the leaves will be starting to change color and the crisp, morning air will soon work its way in. Before you know it, some will be sitting at Madison Square Garden on October 13, others waiting for the home opener on Sunday, October 16. How these changes affect the actual product on the ice remains to be seen. 


The Barclays Center hosts Game 3 of the Islanders-Panthers playoff series Sunday. (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY )
The Barclays Center hosts Game 3 of the Islanders-Panthers playoff series Sunday. (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY )

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

Jon Ledecky is back with more comments about both the coming season and the long-term future of the franchise that are certain to have Islanders fans intrigued.

Ledecky called into the NHL Network and spoke to Steve Mears and Dan Rosen both about the team and his niece, Gold medalist Katie Ledecky, and her experience in Rio.

Mears opened the portion of the questions about the team with an inquiry about how smooth the transition has been for Ledecky and his partner Scott Malkin in taking the reins from former majority owner Charles Wang, and Ledecky said it's been a breeze.

"It's been seamless. We really have had a great relationship with the fans. We were active and went out and did town halls. We were helped, I think, along the way by some really comments by our main star John Tavares, who's expressing an interested in staying with us for his entire career, and that's something obviously we're keen to have happen," said Ledecky. "So right now the wind is at our back. We have a terrific team. We think we've improved our team in the offseason, and we're looking forward to a third straight playoff drive."

Of course, the biggest waves this season have been made about the Isles' future at Barclays Center, and, when the topic of a potential new arena in Queens or Nassau County broached, Ledecky struck a brilliant balance in supporting the team's current building, while leaving the possibility of a new arena open.

"Barclays Center is a first class facility, and it's our home," he said. "Barclays Center management has been very receptive in helping up to improve the fan experience. So I think it's interesting to read press accounts [of the search for a new arena], but Barclays Center is our home.

"And even if one was to surmise that a new arena was being planned, that would take a long time in the New York market," continued Ledecky. "So I think what we're focused on is improving the fan experience, improving transportation to and from the games to the fans that remained loyal from the Long Island market, and making fans in the New York City metro area understand that we have a great team, and making sure that the experience inside Barclays is an A+ experience, both for the fans and for the players."

Ledecky also said that the Isles have worked with Barclays Center to improve the experience inside this year, and there would be an announcement on those changes in the coming weeks.

"To his credit, Brett Yormark and his group at BC have been very actively in the offseason to improve the experience on many different levels," said Ledecky. "And I'm sure at the appropriate time, we'll roll out an announcement about what we've done in the offseason to welcome the fans even more to Barclays."

So what are the takeaways here? First, this says to me that the chatter about the search for a hockey-friendly home is certainly for real (and we've been hearing that very same thing). Ledecky was a master in paying Brooklyn compliments, while still subtly nodding and winking that the Isles will look to get themselves a new home where they are the sole tenants. Would Ledecky give these indications without being confident in his ability to get something done? Probably not, but he's effectively hedged himself so that, no matter how things break, he's covered.

Additionally, I'm curious to see what improvements are in the offing. I was just at Barclays Center Saturday night, and I know one place they can start. Getting something from concessions there (yes, even with a line of all of three people) is akin to being slowly tortured, so that would certainly help. But I also wouldn't be surprised to see more Islanders signage and other game day experience factors to make Brooklyn feel more like home.

All in all, Ledecky seems committed to making Barclays Center work for at least three more seasons. After that, I'd venture to say that all bets are off.

Tags: Brian Erni

 (Andy Marlin)
(Andy Marlin)

The Rangers have signed Jimmy Vesey to a two-year, $925,000 deal with $2.85 million in potential bonuses. 



Latest Update

Aug. 19, 10:25am: The Islanders are likely out on Jimmy Vesey, with the Rangers or Blackhawks the likely destination for him, reports Arthur Staple of Newsday.

Staple notes that John Tavares made a strong pitch for Vesey but that it likely wasn't enough.

Previous Reports and Reactions

Aug. 17, 4:15pm: The Islanders front office met with Jimmy Vesey on Tuesday in Boston, according to ESPN's Joe McDonald.

New York is on the shortlist of seven teams he might sign with by the end of the week.

Aug. 16, 3:40pm: The Islanders are in contention for Jimmy Vesey, and are one of several finalists for the forward, according to former Islanders executive and Sports Business Journal writer Chris Botta.


The Islanders have interest in soon-to-be free agent Jimmy Vesey, but it's not clear whether Vesey will entertain an offer from Garth Snow.

Vesey, 23, was taken in the third round of the 2012 draft by Nashville, but instead of signing with the Predators, he finished his college career at Harvard with the intention of eventually testing free agency.

Nashville traded his rights to the Buffalo Sabres earlier this summer, and Buffalo's exclusive negotiating rights end Monday at midnight, after which point Vesey will become a free agent.

ESPN's Joe McDonald lists the Islanders as an interested party in a report filed on Monday.

"The New York Islanders will also have a chance to make their pitch," McDonald wrote. "GM Garth Snow has made his presence known at the Foxborough pro league this summer. Again, the chance to play with a superstar in John Tavares could push the needle Brooklyn's way."

Both Newsday's Art Staple and the IPB podcast's Brian Compton also said that the Isles do in fact have interest, but neither expect Vesey to land in Brooklyn.

In four years at Harvard, Vesey scored 80 goals and tallied 64 assists. Last season, he won the Hobey Baker Award, given to college hockey's MVP.


Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

Vesey is certainly intriguing, but I think a lot of the interest surrounding his movement in the hockey world has to do with the fact that absolutely nothing is going on around the game right now.

Let's also remember that the Isles have some good forward talent in their system already, and frankly, Vesey may not even be their top prospect if he signed on Tuesday at 12:01. That's not to say they couldn't use another good prospect, but I don't think this is a make-or-break kind of deal. Whoever gets him will certainly be signing a talented player who could contribute at some point in the future, but it won't be the end of the world if Garth can't land him.

The Hobey Baker Award has certainly been won by some future NHL stars, but for every Paul Kariya or Jack Eichel, there's a Jason Krog (the last Hobey Baker winner signed by the Isles) or Kip Miller. So while there's a reason to keep one eye on the Vesey news, keep yourself away from the ledge if Garth can't swipe him away from the Rangers, Devils, or some of the other frontrunners for his services.

Tags: Brian Erni

 (Kim Klement)
(Kim Klement)

Did the Islanders do enough to replace Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo, and Matt Martin's production?

Rob Vollman tackled a burning question for each NHL team for ESPN, and for the Isles, he says it boils down to replacing the scorers they lost in free agency.

"On the surface, it appears the Islanders replaced their lost scoring with the additions of Andrew Ladd, Jason Chimera, and P.A. Parenteau, who combined for 65 goals and 127 points last season, compared to 52 goals and 135 points by the former Islanders," Vollman writes. "However, the new players' average age is 33 years old, compared to 29 for the departed trio of forwards. A more likely scenario is that some of the Isles' young talent makes a mark."

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

The key is the progression of the young forwards, particularly a bounceback year from Ryan Strome. If Strome can develop into a legitimate 60-70 point player, something that I think is still very much a realistic possibility for him, then the Isles won't have any worries.

Anders Lee played in hard luck much of the first half of the season, and was better than his overall scoring stats indicate. And even though Brock Nelson had a very uneven year, he still finished with a productive 26-goal season.

Strome, who pulled a disappearing act for the majority of the 15-16 season, is the lynchpin. If he can be the player he was two years ago, he makes that entire forward group deeper, and he knows he has a ton to prove this season. Once he signs an RFA deal, which should get done by camp, he'll have nothing but hockey to focus on, and I think he'll relish the opportunity for redemption.

I'm not worried about the free agent imports. They're veterans who know what needs to be done, and I think they'll be just fine.

For the Isles, it's all about forward momentum for their young core, whether it's the guys who have been here a few years or the prospects (like Matt Barzal) moving up through the system. They will determine just how high the ceiling is for this club.

Tags: Anders Lee , Brock Nelson , Ryan Strome , Brian Erni

 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

The New York Islanders are roughly five weeks away from beginning a transformative and crucial training camp before the puck is dropped on the 2016-17 NHL season.

In addition to working in newcomers Andrew Ladd, Jason Chimera and now two-time Islander P.A Parenteau, they will be missing Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin in the locker room.

It will also be the time when management and the coaching staff takes a long, hard look at what could be the future of New York's offense. Possessing, arguably, the brightest stock of young talent in the entire league, all eyes will be focused on three players when on-ice workouts begin.

Matthew Barzal, Michael Dal Colle and Joshua Ho-Sang will feel like all of Long Island's eyes are upon them, and truth be told, that might not be much of a stretch.

Barzal almost made the team last season, lasting the longest in training camp before being sent back to Seattle of the WHL to complete his third season of junior hockey. And what a season it ended up being for the 19-year-old from Coquitlam, BC, Canada.

Barzal collected 27 goals and 61 assists for a career-high 88 points in only 58 games before adding another 26 points in 18 playoff contests. Once compared to Conor McDavid, now of the Edmonton Oilers, Barzal has carved his own niche and is ready for yet another challenge to the Islanders' 23-man roster.

SNY had a chance to catch up with the young Islanders star and talk about his goals for the upcoming season as he heads into a crucial development phase of his career...

Andy Graziano, SNY: We know that you sat out the Islanders rookie camp with a minor hip issue, has that affected your offseason training routine? Any idea where the injury occurred and how does it feel now?

Matthew Barzal: "It's feeling real good. I've been back on the ice the past few weeks with some pros. It just kind of happened, it was such a long season last year - I think I played around 95 games with no break and it's such a grind. Things flare up and get sore but no major damage and the news is all positive right now, getting stronger each day"

AG: What is the biggest part of your game that you feel needs improvement as you strive to make the 23 man roster out of training camp?

MB: "I've been working hard all summer on my core and upper body. Last year when I walked into the room as a younger guy, just seeing some of those guys off ice, just massive. Kyle Okposo, Nik Kulemin, Matt Martin and others. I was a pretty thin kid but now I feel like I've added a lot more bulk and am a lot more confident with my physicality."

AG: Describe for the fans how you see your style of play and what they can expect..Who do you most compare yourself to in terms of past or present NHL players?

MB: "I've heard comparisons to Claude Giroux quite a bit. We're not the biggest guys but very quick on the puck, pass first type of players. He's obviously had an unreal career so far so hopefully I can follow in that mold. He's such a smart player and I can definitely see the closest resemblance to his style of play"

AG: Due to current CHL rules regarding young players, your options, while limited, are very clear to you for 2016-17. Either make the Islanders or return to Seattle and finish out your junior career. Does that add any pressure heading into camp and do you feel you have anymore to offer at the WHL level?

MB: "Obviously, the ideal situation is to make the club in New York, I'm really not thinking about Seattle at this point. It's kind of tough that as a 19 year old, you can't go to the AHL, you either make it or go back to junior. But at the end of the day, I'm not satisfied. It will be disappointing but that means I have things to work on. I have a great coach in Seattle, Steve Konowalchuk, who makes me accountable and has really helped me with my game to make it more pro like. Obviously, it wouldn't be my first option to go back to junior, but as of right now, I'm not really thinking about going back at all."

AG: Tell us a little about how you became interested in hockey and how it has led you to where you are, currently. Who have been your biggest influences growing up.

MB: "My dad was a junior A hockey player and just threw me in, like most Canadian dads tend to do. I also loved lacrosse. I honestly loved every sport I played. When I really knew was my first tournament in Quebec, when I won the MVP award, it became the sport I knew I wanted to concentrate on."

AG: What do you see as the biggest differences that will need to be adjusted to between the WHL and NHL as you move forward?

MB: "You see what's going on with Jimmy Vesey. It's crazy. He has a little more experience playing with team USA this summer overseas with some pros but I played 7 pre-season games last year, so I know what it's like as well. He's obviously a real good player and I actually heard the Islanders are talking to him, so that's pretty cool. That could be a real good fit. The differences in the leagues is always size and speed of the game. I know it's a pretty generic answer, but at the end of the day, it's true. Guys also are so damn smart. Every D man plays a great gap, plays a great stick. They read players so well. It's a huge transition. You can't teach that."

AG: Do you feel you actually play your best hockey when under the brightest playoff lights, when the competition really ramps up and the checking gets tighter? You have now collected 40 points in 33 WHL playoff games and 26 points in 24 career international games with Canada, pretty impressive numbers.

MB: "I love being on the big stage, whether its with Team Canada or Seattle or New York. I love the adrenaline. That's what it's all about. If you can't get excited for that, then what kind of hockey player are you, really? That excites me, being able to go out there and show what I can do but I absolutely love pressure and being under the brightest lights. Doesn't intimidate me at all."

AG: How well do you know the other young Islanders prospects, such as Michael Dal Colle, Joshua Ho-Sang and Anthony Beauvillier, even though they play, or played, in other leagues? Have you guys spoken about the challenges that lie ahead?

MB: "Obviously, we get together and talk at camp. But the last couple of years, we have gotten to know each other better and they're all great guys. Anthony Beauvillier and I are very close friends, we both speak French so we get along great [laughs]. Michael Dal Colle is a super guy, we've hung out quite a bit. Joshua is definitely a character but honestly, he's a great person.The prospect pool is so deep but at the same time, everyone gets along so well and that goes a long way in helping us all with our development."

AG: What are your thoughts of the Islanders offseason moves this summer. Losing three mainstay home grown guys in Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin and replacing them with Andrew Ladd, PA Parenteau and Jason Chimera?

MB: "I got to be pretty good friends with Matt Martin, stayed with him the first few nights last summer and he's a fantastic person and tough to lose but they did a really good job, got some pretty good guys. Ladd, Parenteau and Chimera are proven guys and have had solid careers. I've seen it at junior, but never seen it at the NHL level where guys get moved and change teams. It's honestly real fun to be part of, your team being involved in the speculation and rumors, being on the radar. It's a cool first time experience for me, I'm looking forward to getting in and meeting my new teammates. When I was 16, I got a taste when one of my closest friends and teammates got traded. It's kind of surreal at such a young age to have to go through that, but junior hockey in Canada is a business just like the NHL."

AG: What are you major interests outside hockey? Any favorite teams in other sports?

MB: "I honestly follow and love most sports. Football, golf, soccer, even baseball a little more this year. I'm actually a huge basketball fan, like crazy, love the NBA. Big LeBron fan. I couldn't get myself to get on the Golden State bandwagon. I like the villians, hated but prove everyone wrong. Steph Curry, he's so darn good, but everything kind of got put into place for them. They have four all-stars on their team in the starting five now. I can't get myself to root for those guys."

Tags: Andy Graziano

Chicago Blackhawks left wing Andrew Ladd (16) against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets won 5-4 in overtime. (Aaron Doster)
Chicago Blackhawks left wing Andrew Ladd (16) against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets won 5-4 in overtime. (Aaron Doster)

John Tavares is entering his fourth season as Islanders captain, but he's eager to learn a thing or two from the team's biggest free agent import.

In a Q&A with Fox Sports' Luke Fox, Tavares said that he thinks the addition of Andrew Ladd will provide a huge boost to the locker room, and he will depend on him for some counsel and support.

"I'm going to rely on his leadership," Tavares said of Ladd. "It's great to have a guy to bounce things off of, someone to give you advice. The more, the better. That's only going to help our team and help myself, being able to lean on guys like that. People think the captain knows everything. They don't. They need guys they can lean on and help you when you're going through certain things in your game or trying to get a pulse and manage certain issues in the locker room. You need a different perspective."

Tavares also discussed the commute to Brooklyn, the playing surface at Barclays Center, and what he's been up to in the offseason.

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

This is exactly what I was talking about last week. Tavares could greatly benefit from having Ladd to lean on, both on the ice and in the locker room, and I think it will ultimately boost JT's game further, if that's even possible.

Having a veteran who has seen and done it all can be such a benefit, specifically in the NHL, where the playoffs are a beast unto themselves. And based on how personally Tavares takes every loss, I'm sure it will be comforting to him to have another strong voice in the locker room to help keep everyone focused so he can spend a little more time making adjustments to his game.

The role of captain is not an easy job, and Tavares has handled it very well thus far. I think Ladd's presence will only help him evolve as a leader and a player, and that's a scary thought for the rest of the Eastern Conference.

Tags: John Tavares

New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) celebrates after scoring a power play goal against the Florida Panthers during the second period of game four of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Florida Panthers at Barclays Center. (Andy Marlin)
New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) celebrates after scoring a power play goal against the Florida Panthers during the second period of game four of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Florida Panthers at Barclays Center. (Andy Marlin)

John Tavares has no desire to leave the New York Islanders.

Tavares told Newsday on Monday that he does not intend to leave the team that drafted him with the first overall pick in the 2009 draft.

"I don't really have any reason to leave and I think we have a great makeup and a team that can do something special this year," Tavares told Newsday's Art Staple. "I've always expressed my love for playing for Long Island. It's where I started; it's all I know in the NHL. The opportunity they've given me, I would love to see it all the way through and win a Stanley Cup."

Tavares can become a free agent after the 2017-18 season. He can sign an extension with the club as early as July 1, 2017.


Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

See, Islanders fans? This is straight from the horse's mouth. He doesn't want to go, and Garth Snow and Jon Ledecky won't let him.

Tavares is the Islanders. He's a bonafide superstar, who embodies everything you'd want out of a franchise player and captain. The Isles want him to retire here and hang his jersey in the rafters, hopefully after he wins a Stanley Cup or two. And what's even more important is Tavares shares that vision. He's a deeply loyal person who is passionate about the organization, and wants to forge his own path to greatness. This is the guy, folks. He loves the Islanders as much as Islanders fans love him.

Of course, a lot can change over the span of a year, but come next July, I think you'll see just how committed he is to the blue-and-orange.

Tags: John Tavares , Brian Erni

New York Islanders fans celebrate an Islanders goal against the Dallas Stars during the third period at Barclays Center. (Andy Marlin/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Islanders fans celebrate an Islanders goal against the Dallas Stars during the third period at Barclays Center. (Andy Marlin/USA Today Sports Images)

The Islanders ranked fifth in overall fan experience in the New York market, according to a new JD Power study.

The JD Power Fan Experience Study measured customer satisfaction of the major pro sports teams in four major markets across seven factors (in order of importance): seating area and game experience; security and ushers; leaving the game; arriving at the game; food and beverage; ticket purchase; and souvenirs and merchandise. Satisfaction is measured on a 1,000-point scale.

The Islanders ranked fifth in New York with an overall fan experience score of 778. The Brooklyn Nets, who share Barclays Center with the Islanders, were second (795) in the market. Broken down by category, the Nets ranked higher across the board.

Last season, the Islanders moved to Barclays Center after 43 years at Nassau Coliseum. Upon moving into the arena, Charles Wang ceded control of business operations to Barclays Center.

Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter

The Islanders' position in the New York area is not good, but no handicap was afforded either, given it was the first year in Brooklyn and a first-time experience for almost all involved. This is why Jon Ledecky made pressuring Barclays one of his priorities immediately after assuming majority control with Scott Malkin. Barclays is certainly under more pressure now than ever in order to improve the game experience for a passionate fan base.

The fact the Islanders ranked worse than the Nets, who have been a much worse team of late, speaks to the clear fact that Barclays was built with only one sport in mind: basketball. It never envisioned having another tenant. Short sighted? Perhaps, but now Barclays face an uphill battle to keep its second tenant. By his early actions, Ledecky is not content with how things went in year one, and is not at all comfortable keeping the status quo.

That is what Islanders fans have been clamoring for from its owner after all, isn't it? An owner who cares about them and their experience spending their hard-earned money to watch his team play. That is what they seem to now have. Once the smoke has cleared, and that could still be four years from now, we will finally be able to judge how sincere and effective Ledecky's play was.


General view of Barclays Center (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
General view of Barclays Center (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

MSG Networks announced Thursday that Brendan Burke will succeed Howie Rose as the Islanders' primary television play-by-play man.

Burke, 32, grew up in New Jersey, and most recently served as the vice of the AHL's Utica Comets.

Burke "has filled in calling radio play-by-play at the NHL level for the St. Louis Blues, and he has called college football and basketball games for Fox Sports' cable outlets," Newsday's Neil Best said. He received the AHL's James H. Ellery Memorial Award for the 2014-15 season, presented annually in recognition of outstanding media coverage of the AHL.

Rose had served as the team's play-by-play voice since the 1995-96 season.

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

Congratulations to Brendan, who has some mighty big shoes to fill. Although not too familiar with much of Burke's work before news broke that he had gotten the gig, after listening to some of his calls, he seems like a fantastic choice. Burke had been identified as a rising star of the broadcast world the past few years, and he definitely stood out as one of the best in the AHL. I'm glad the Isles went for someone young who can hopefully grow with the team and be here for a long, long time.

Best of luck, Brendan. I hope you'll call many memorable moments during your tenure!

Tags: Brian Erni

Andrew Ladd (Dennis Wierzbicki/USA Today Sports Images)
Andrew Ladd (Dennis Wierzbicki/USA Today Sports Images)

Lauren from Bohemia writes: The Islanders are under new ownership for the first time in almost two decades, and while it feels like a fresh start, what can fans realistically expect to change? Obviously, Jon Ledecky has talked a big game so far, and that's exciting, but what tangible differences will we see, especially those that matter to fans?


Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

I think you've already seen one in the signing of Andrew Ladd. Ladd's deal is both lockout and buyout proof. Basically, that means Ladd has a very small per-year salary, with the bulk of his money due in signing bonuses. Now, at first blush, you might think that's team-friendly, but it's really not. (I want to thank Eric Hornick for smartening me up a little on the intricacies of a deal like this).

The cap hit is not impacted, so it's not like the Isles get extra salary cap room out of it. And it also leaves no way for New York to get around paying Ladd a lot of money all the way until he's 37. But the Islanders prioritized Ladd's skill and leadership, and they felt like he was a must-sign for them, so they signed him anyway. Truthfully, I don't think that ever gets done in the Charles Wang era. So if Ladd has a major impact on this team, and the organization believes he will, you probably have the change in ownership, at least in part, to thank.

Elsewhere, I'd expect that a large chunk of what's going to make a difference to fans will be felt inside the arena. Ledecky's initial outreach to fans has largely been about their experience at Barclays Center, and the team is holding focus groups to try to get a sense of a direction it wants to go in. I think that, for as long as the Isles are at Barclays Center, it needs to feel like home. Think it doesn't make a difference? Ask Mets fans how they felt going to Citi Field in 2009 vs. now. Adding signage, moving the old Home Run apple up front, installing a Mets Hall of Fame ... it all made a huge difference in the feel of the ballpark. Barclays Center would be wise to do the same for the Isles because -- with all due respect to the Nets -- the Islanders are the only legitimate sports attraction in the arena.

Oh, and obviously, if the Isles ever play in Nassau County again, you'll have ownership to thank as well.

Tags: Brian Erni

New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) makes a save against the Tampa Bay Lightning in game five of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena. (Kim Klement)
New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) makes a save against the Tampa Bay Lightning in game five of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena. (Kim Klement)

The Islanders will look very different when they hit the ice for training camp about one month from now, but are they better?

Over at ESPN Insider, Matthew Coller at Hockey Prospectus took a look at the Isles' offseason moves and wondered whether New York is a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.

Coller argues that the Isles are going to need to get above average goaltending to compete with the top of the conference, and he's skeptical whether Thomas Greiss can turn in a repeat performance in 2016-17. He also thinks the Isles may need either Matt Barzal or Michael Dal Colle to contribute in a big way to help replace Frans Nielsen, and that Ryan Strome needs to have a breakout year.

Finally, he took an in-depth look at the Andrew Ladd signing and compares it to Kyle Okposo's production to ultimately arrive at a sobering conclusion.

"Even if Ladd is an improvement over Okposo, it will be only by a small margin," Coller writes. "The Islanders will still have to be better in every other area to compete for the Stanley Cup."

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

I think these are all fair critiques by Coller, and I agree. The Isles can't simply rely on outside help to make strides toward a Cup. They need to be better and grow from within, and that starts with the younger forwards (Brock Nelson, Anders Lee, and Strome) exhibiting more stability in their performance, and a reliance on Greiss to prove that his breakout year wasn't just a blip on the radar. But I also think there's a fair reason to be optimistic.

I love advanced statistics, and I think they're a great barometer of a player's true on-ice performance, and shed far more light than some of the arcane stats (like plus-minus). But I do think there's still a human element to the game, and I can't look past the contributions some of the offseason acquisitions will bring in terms of leadership. Let's take a look at one of sports' most successful recent franchises: the Golden State Warriors. Who does Steph Curry credit with helping to hone his MVP form? Jarrett Jack, of all people. So you never know when the right veteran comes in at the right time and helps not only the team's superstar, but everyone else, elevate their game.

I'm not saying Ladd or Jason Chimera is a lock to do that. I'm simply saying that you never quite know what you have until the group skates together, gets some game action, and is faced with some adversity. The Isles absolutely need to be better in almost every facet to be feared come April, but I think there's at least a reason to think they can.


New York Islanders defensemen Travis Hamonic (3) takes a slap shot against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. (James Guillory)
New York Islanders defensemen Travis Hamonic (3) takes a slap shot against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. (James Guillory)

John from Saratoga asks: The Isles lost two assistant captains this offseason in Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo. Do you think that will hurt the room? And what two players do you think wear the 'A' next season?


Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

That's a great interesting question, John. As far as the locker room goes, I think you saw just how important Garth Snow thought bringing in strong leaders to replace his outgoing assistant captains were when he made his free agent moves. Not only did he make bringing in Andrew Ladd his top priority, but the Islanders were very aggressive going after Jason Chimera. Both of those players are known for their exemplary leadership skills, and both have a ton of playoff experience. So while it's never quite clear how a locker room is going to gel until the guys actually get to know one another, I think that Garth really prioritized that area, which was a bit of a need for this team.

The locker room has been an interesting topic of debate among those in the know. Some guys who have been in there have said they lacked a vocal, "ra-ra" type outside of Johnny Boychuk. We know John Tavares holds himself and his team to a very high standard, and I think he's the perfect captain for this team. Some have said, though, that he needs some support; another veteran voice that has been to the places John hasn't yet to give that can give the room another perspective.

Since most of the Isles' core came up together, they didn't quite have that outside perspective among the forwards to help them through their playoff runs. I really think that was one of the reasons why Ladd was such a priority. He has his name on the Stanley Cup twice. He can be that number two guy in the room that can help the forwards adjust their game and conditioning as they get deeper into the playoffs, and tell them what to anticipate. The defensive corps has that in Boychuk (and, to an extent only because he's not as vocal, Nick Leddy), and I think the forward group really could probably greatly benefit from having that, too.

As far as who wears the A's next season, I think the leading candidates are probably: Travis Hamonic, Ladd, Cal Clutterbuck, Boychuk and Chimera, in that order. Travis has been an assistant captain before, is one of the key emotional leaders on this team, and probably clinched it with the way he stayed so devoted to the team, despite his taxing personal situation. I'd be shocked if Ladd doesn't get an 'A' also, though sometimes that's a tricky thing giving it to a brand new player to the room. Still, I'd anticipate that Ladd will have one, and Clutterbuck will wear one when Hamonic or Ladd isn't on the ice on any given night.

Tags: Cal Clutterbuck , John Tavares , Johnny Boychuk , Travis Hamonic , Brian Erni

New York Islanders left wing Josh Bailey skates during the second period in game five of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Islanders left wing Josh Bailey skates during the second period in game five of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports Images)

Aaron (@aaronfeigin) from California asks: Do you think drafting Josh Bailey back in 2008 was a botch job by the organization, or do you think the team set his ceiling too high because of where they drafted him?


Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

Since I know all of you love it when I talk about Bailey, I figured this was a perfect question to tackle.
 
Bailey unquestionably had one of the worst seasons of his career last year. After two years of Corsi For Percentages over 52.6 and three straight seasons of Fenwick For Percentages over 51.8, Bailey's advanced stats plummeted despite posting 32 points. But is it fair to say Garth Snow swung and missed when he drafted him? I don't think so. The guy is a serviceable NHL forward, and looking at that first round, there isn't a lot to speak of after the top two picks (save for Erik Karlsson and Jordan Eberle). Does Snow probably wish he could go back and grab one of those guys? Of course, but hindsight is 20-20.
 
I think you touched on a good point though, Aaron. Trading down twice and eventually picking Bailey probably made some fans think the Isles had a read on Bailey that no one else did. They did like his character, and that's been well-founded since you won't find a nicer guy in the league, one who is dedicated to doing everything he can to help this team win. And we've seen flashes of the playmaking ability that had everyone drooling. But remember the 2008 draft was at the infancy stages of the rebuild, when the Islanders were trying to stockpile as many picks as possible. Those conditional second- and third-rounders that they received in those trades felt like gold to a franchise that was figuratively nowhere. So it was as much about getting assets than it was about getting their guy in Bailey.
 
And in fairness to Bailey, he has the sixth-most goals and seventh-most points of the players in that draft class, and he's played in the fourth-most games. He was thrown right into the fire at 19 years old, and while he's never going to be the 30-goal scorer most fans want him to be, he adds value to this team. I'm not above criticizing the guy for having some bad games, but I've been in the stands when Bailey scored a goal and the very next shift, someone is yelling for him to "get off the ice." So there's being critical and then there is ignorance. I think some fans don't so much walk that line with Bailey as much as they run it over with their SUVs.
 
Ultimately, I'd say yes to the second part of your question. I think Islanders fans set their expectations way too high on Bailey even though he turned into an effective, if unspectacular, NHLer. And that's probably a good lesson moving forward with our new up-and-coming forward prospects: Let these guys be who they are, and you'll be a lot happier in the long run.

Tags: Josh Bailey , Brian Erni

Islanders fans and management are looking to improve the Barclays Center experience. (Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports)
Islanders fans and management are looking to improve the Barclays Center experience. (Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports)

Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter

It's August in the National Hockey League, the month where news goes to die and players begin to ramp up their offseason workouts in an effort to be ready for training camp, which is now just six weeks away. 
 
There is absolutely no news to report from an Islanders player perspective as general manager Garth Snow continues to keep his eyes on the trade market after a summer that saw three longtime Islanders leave and three new faces arrive.  
 
When camp does begin next month, it will be without captain John Tavares, Nikolay Kulemin and goaltenders Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss, who will be at the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, which will be their version of the preseason in preparation for the 2016-17 regular season, which begins in 70 days at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers. 
 
But I'll tell you who hasn't been quiet over the last month or so heading into the tail end of summer. Barclays Center has been at the forefront of much discussion since Jonathan Ledecky and Scott Malkin took over majority ownership on July 1. Malkin told a panel of reporters at a gathering in Manhattan in  last month that he is constantly speaking with the management of the Islanders new home, about to enter its second year, about improvements for the club and its loyal fan base. 
 
Then came the explosive news that Ledecky was exploring other options for a permanent home for his new team, including exploring sites in Belmont and Queens. One thing you cannot put on the Barclays Center management is that they don't listen or care about the concerns being voiced, some more loudly than others.

They addressed some during the season last year heading into the playoffs, but everyone freely admits there is more work to be done. To that end, they hosted a focus group on Wednesday evening at Northwell Health Ice Center in Long Island, the new practice facility for the team, and continued to hear complaints in an effort to improve the overall experience. 
 
The below is a recap courtesy of Michael Liebler (@mcliebler), who was present at the discussion and was kind enough to pass along the details in an exclusive to SNY.: 
 
The group consisted of about 15 season ticket holders. I was invited by my Isles rep and the group was hosted by the director of business strategy and analytics for Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment. I received a follow-up call from my rep to discuss Wednesday's event and he further elaborated on the topics, so both the Islanders and Barclays Center are involved. 
 
After filling out surveys, we discussed several topics, including the concession stands, the ushers/security, transportation to Barclays, sight lines, seats, and cost. Although the focus group was entirely season ticket holders, the same concerns and criticisms as any other fan were addressed. 
 
Seat location and ticket prices 
 
There were some complaints about the views, not just the obstructed seats but also the higher-row upper level seats where fans' heads get in the way. There was no solution suggested by the rep for this matter. Everyone criticized the ticket prices, which even for season ticket holders is high compared to the Coliseum. Barclays is aware that Stubhub is underselling the face value for seats and I was told that they will look into figuring out more discounts. 
 
Season Ticket Sharing Market 

An interesting project the Isles are working on is a season ticket sharing market. While it was said that other teams are already doing this, the Isles will create a marketplace so that fans will get to interact with other fans who are looking to share season tickets. 
 
New cards for STHs  
 
Season ticket holders have had problems with scanning their cards at the entry gates and fans with printed tickets get in quicker. My rep told me that this year, STHs will get a card for each seat and cards will have seat locations printed on the front. Also STHs will get a lanyard to hold the cards around their neck so the usher can easily see them. Furthermore, cards will have a scan code instead of a swipe strip since there were too many problems with swiping at entry.  
 
LIRR 
 
Everyone expressed concerns with over-crowded LIRR trains and not enough trains being utilized on game days to go to Barclays, specifically the Babylon line. Barclays is talking to LIRR; however one fan mentioned they heard the problem was that the lack of trains is caused by the Isles not giving LIRR enough money. Although my rep wasn't able to clarify this, he did say that money is an issue with LIRR. This is an issue both Isles and Barclays Center are trying to resolve.  
 
Ushers/Security 
 
Criticism of security/ushers included not having as much of a security presence as there was at the Coliseum, usher rotation takes away from the fans getting to know the ushers, and ushers not being hockey fans. I did make the comment that although the ushers are not fans, they have been making an effort to get into hockey and have asked me questions about the game. We were told that ushers will undergo further training before the start of the season.  
 
Concessions 
 
While the variety of food wasn't really a concern, what concerned everyone was the fact that the process of getting food at the intermissions was too slow. Fans who get food at the break will miss a good portion of the game. The Barclays rep also explained that the concession staff will be further trained and they are looking to add more menu items.  
 
Saturday games 
 
It was strongly expressed that one likely problem with attendance is the lack of games on Saturday. I was told the team will look into getting more Saturday games for the 2017-18 season. 
 
More Focus Groups 
 
This was not the first focus group and it will not likely be the last. My rep told me this was likely the last focus group before the season begins, but they will look to conduct more. The focus group was recorded and will be reviewed further by Barclays personnel.  
 
Thanks to Michael for providing SNY with the insight into the specific topics discussed Wednesday at the focus group. As you can see, Barclays, whether by design or the fact they are feeling a bit of pressure with Malkin exploring other options, do care about the experience Islanders fans have at their facility. Let's see if it bears any fruit. 

Tags: Andy Graziano

Michael Dal Colle was selected fifth overall by the Islanders in the 2014 NHL Draft.  (Matt Slocum)
Michael Dal Colle was selected fifth overall by the Islanders in the 2014 NHL Draft. (Matt Slocum)

Michael, @rightontime31 on Twitter, asks: How come Matt Barzal seems to have passed by Michael Dal Colle so much? I have heard the company line, but it just isn't normal. A guy off knee surgery who was the No. 16 pick in his draft compared to a top-five prospect with size and drafted a year earlier. It seems like a bad sign.


Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

I wouldn't get too worried about Dal Colle. Remember, there was a lot of talk about him making the team out of camp last year, and I think both in that case and Barzal's this year, that's because it was either play in the NHL or go back to Juniors, since they weren't/aren't 20 and eligible for the AHL.

Now that Dal Colle can play for the Sound Tigers, there's less urgency to evaluate how close he is to getting the call up to Brooklyn because there won't be a worry that sending him back to Juniors would impede his development. That's what really makes those 19-year-old prospects a tough call. You don't want them simply skating circles around the competition in Juniors because they won't learn anything if it's too easy. But you don't want to have them cut their teeth in the NHL if they're not ready, or it could be detrimental in the long run. Barzal is in that odd limbo position this year, so it's natural to hear more chatter about him getting an NHL look, especially when the team was so encouraged by his first year in their system.

Also, keep in mind that the offseason presented an NHL need - a two-way center that can replace Frans Nielsen - which Barzal can potentially fill. Barzal is a center with good defensive instincts who forces a lot of turnovers, while Dal Colle is a winger. So if Barzal is close to ready, it could be attractive to fill that vacancy in-house. While the Isles are always looking for a top-flight wing, I think they feel like they have enough to plug the gap until the feel like MDC is truly ready.

But if I can make an even larger point, taking specific players out of the equation, is that it's not always conducive to evaluate prospects by comparing them to other guys in the system. I understand why we do it as fans; because the easiest measuring stick for prospects is how quickly they come up to the big club. But there are so many other factors to developing a player, and no two are really alike. The Isles exercise a lot of patience in how they bring their players through the pipeline, and during the last decade or so, Nino Niederreiter is probably the only true botch, and I'm not sure that was ever going to work from a personality standpoint anyway. So don't lose faith in MDC. I still expect good things from him.

Tags: Brian Erni

General view of the opening face-off between the New York Islanders and the Anaheim Ducks during the first period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. (Brad Penner)
General view of the opening face-off between the New York Islanders and the Anaheim Ducks during the first period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. (Brad Penner)

Steve from St. James, New York asks: Assuming the Islanders make no other moves this offseason, will they make the playoffs in 2016-17?

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

I think so. The one move they definitely will make it re-signing restricted free agent Ryan Strome to a new deal. I know some fans are worried that it isn't done yet, but the Isles have plenty of time, and there's absolutely no reason to assume something won't get done. Of course, this would be retaining an in-house player, so your point remains.

While the losses of the offseason hurt, in my mind, they're definitely still a playoff team. The most consistent criticism the Islanders' offseason gets is that they basically made lateral moves by replacing Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, and Matt Martin with Andrew Ladd, P.A. Parenteau, and Jason Chimera. But they have been a 100-point team the last two years. Staying at that level isn't necessarily a bad thing.

The bigger question is have they done enough to take the next step as an organization. Winning their first playoff series since 1993 was a hurdle the franchise needed to clear in the worst possible way, but the next step is getting to a Conference final, and winning it. Have they done enough in that respect? I honestly don't know. I thought the Penguins were dead in the water in January, so admittedly, these things are a little hard to forecast.

I think it's great that Isles fans have raised expectations and are holding the team to a higher standard. I'd rather be debating if their big free agent signings are enough over of taking about who we should be eyeing with our lottery pick any day of the week. But I think it's also important to remember that the nature of American sports playoffs is that they're a crapshoot. It's why they're so exciting. So, once you're in, anything can really happen. The Isles have enough to get in, and the personnel to think a deep run is possible. Personally, that's really as much as I can ask for.

Tags: Frans Nielsen , Kyle Okposo , Matt Martin , Ryan Strome , Brian Erni

New York Islanders head coach Al Arbour waves to fans as he leaves the ice with his wife Clarie after returning to the Islanders to coach his 1500th hockey game as Islanders head coach against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., Saturday, Nov. 3, 2007. (AP Photo/Ed Betz) (Ed Betz/AP)
New York Islanders head coach Al Arbour waves to fans as he leaves the ice with his wife Clarie after returning to the Islanders to coach his 1500th hockey game as Islanders head coach against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., Saturday, Nov. 3, 2007. (AP Photo/Ed Betz) (Ed Betz/AP)

 

The New York Islanders announced plans to formally hold a memorial service for Hall of Fame head coach Al Arbour, who passed away Aug. 28, 2015, in Sarasota, Florida, at the age of 82, suffering from dementia and Parkinson's disease.

Arbour went 740-537-223 with the Islanders, recording a .642 winning percentage, but the playoffs were where Arbour's leadership, hockey smarts and desire shined. He went 114-76 in the playoffs with five Stanley Cup Final appearances and, of course, the four magical titles.

After an NHL career that spanned 626 games as a defenseman, Arbour joined the coaching ranks in 1970-71, leading the St. Louis Blues, the team with whom he finished his career, for three seasons. He took over for Earl Ingerfield Jr. in 1973 and would coach 1,500 of his 1,607 games with the blue and orange.

The ceremony will be held at Northwell Health Ice Center, the site of the new training and practice facility for the organization, on Aug. 29 at 11:30 a.m. Doors will open at 10:30 a.m., and fans are encouraged to attend. Limited seating will be on a first-come, first-serve basis. People can RSVP via the Islanders official site.

Hall of Fame GM Bill Torrey, NHL coach and 14-time Stanley Cup champion Scotty Bowman, Hall of Famer Jim Devellano, Islanders head coach Jack Capuano and Islanders captain John Tavares are scheduled to appear, according to the official site.

Islanders former play-by-play voice and Hockey Hall of Fame member, Jiggs McDonald will serve as the master of ceremony.

Tags: John Tavares , Andy Graziano

 (Kim Klement)
(Kim Klement)

Islanders Captain John Tavares suggested on Tuesday that he wants to remain in New York for the long haul.

Early in the day, he made a guest appearance Tuesday at the Gatorade GCamp, taking part in a light skate with 14-to-19 year olds who represent the best the amateur game has to offer.

Afterwards, word got out on Twitter from Joe Buono, who runs IslesBlog, that the captain spoke to Sportsnet 590 - The Fan about his much discussed future, even though the captain is two years removed from unrestricted free agency.

Needless to say, as I waited for my day to end in the financial market, I didn't expect anything other than a lighthearted summer conversation about one of Tavares' passions, his hometown Toronto Blue Jays, who just recently acquired Melvin Upton, Jr. in a trade. I should have known better.

The Toronto media has not let Tavares' "definitive" and "certain" move to Toronto in two years die. They just kept banging on the drum in an effort to drum up listens, page views and controversy. Needless to say, the captain was not buying any of it.

The discussion started as expected with some Jays talk, when things got real...real quick. When asked 'what will be the best part about playing in Toronto in two years' Tavares countered quickly and with authority.

"I would not count on that. I think I've shown my commitment, my appreciation and my desire to play on Long Island," Tavares said. "I would love for that to continue for the long haul. I think that you look at some of the greatest players in the game have been able to spend their entire careers somewhere. I hope I'm in that same position."

"Being from Toronto, people are going to make those connections and it is what it is," Tavares continued. "That's nothing I can control. I just want to go out and be the best player and person I can be for the Islanders day in and day out and I'm just going to focus on tomorrow and the upcoming season."

One would figure that would have been enough for the host, Andrew Walker, to move on. Nope. The next question was a direct shot across the bow in regards to the latest news of the Islanders potentially moving to Willets Point or Belmont Park or Alaska for that matter. Walker phrased his question and awaited Tavares' response: "Now on the back of your hockey card, it could say Islanders from year one to year 20. But it could be Queens or Brooklyn or Nassau or... you're all over the place."

"Yeah, there's a lot of stuff floating out there," Tavares said. "But I've always told people, until you've played there or been there -- I've been around the team, been around the organization, our fanbase -- you really don't know what it's like.' 'There's a lot of opinions that are really... far off and don't really have a good pulse of what's going on or what the organization is all about. They drafted me there, gave me a great opportunity to play this game I love and fulfill my dream."

"They've put a lot of high expectations in me and I don't take that lightly. I've always liked being there from Day 1, so I'd love to see it through and lift the Stanley Cup there."

A captain saying captain things. And basically saying to the entire hoard of Toronto media -- "enough." As Tavares has proven in his tenure with the organization, he likes to focus on two things and two things only: Getting better as a player and pushing the team on the ice forward.

He does not like distractions, a prime example of his leadership in that department being last year when he campaigned for the move of gameday skates back to Long Island for the betterment and comfort of his teammates.

Even though his offensive output was down 16 points in the first season in Brooklyn, he had his finest season as a pro. He led the Islanders through the tumultuous waters of a move and secured their first playoff series win in a long, long time with a dramatic Game 6 "do-it-yourself" goal against Roberto Luongo and the Florida Panthers.

Tavares didn't give up any leverage in making these comments today. It should not be expected that he is just going to jump and sign the first piece of paper general manager Garth Snow puts in front of him next summer, when the two can open up extension talks.

But, at the end of the day, he will not be interested in how much upfront money he can make nor will he will be interested in a "different challenge." If the organization shows a continued ascension like they have over the course of the last four years and has a vision for the next eight, he will show his true colors at the negotiation table -- loyalty and commitment first.

There is no doubt whatsoever the feeling has always been, and will continue to always be mutual.

Tags: John Tavares , Andy Graziano

A general view of the New York Islanders bench against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. (Aaron Doster)
A general view of the New York Islanders bench against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. (Aaron Doster)

George McPhee is general manager of the NHL's new Las Vegas franchise, and Garth Snow is hoping his Islanders ties will make McPhee go easy on New York in the upcoming expansion draft.

ESPN's Tal Pinchevsky recently sat down with McPhee to discuss a variety of topics, and he asked what executives McPhee had spoken to since taking the job.

"I called [Islanders GM] Garth Snow to say, 'Thanks for everything, it was a great experience and you really helped me get the other GM job,'" McPhee told ESPN. "[Garth] said, 'Just remember that during the expansion draft.' Then he said, 'Now that you're back to being a manager, I can't wait to see you look old again.'"

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

That sounds like typical Garth.

I absolutely view the Islanders as one of the most vulnerable teams in the expansion draft next season, and it's directly because of McPhee's familiarity with the organization. The Islanders have so many players, particularly affordable defensemen, that they'll have to protect, meaning they're going to leave themselves vulnerable somewhere. McPhee is well positioned to anticipate where that will be, and he should be easily able to work around any curveballs Garth throws at him to keep him off toes.

Every team is going to lose someone next offseason, but I'd be willing to wager the Isles' loss will hurt. We'll have the better part of a year to debate who that will be. But rest assured the McPhee probably isn't all that willing to do the Isles too many favors in his quest to building a winning franchise in Vegas.


General view of opening tip off during the first period between the New York Islanders and the Chicago Blackhawks at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner)
General view of opening tip off during the first period between the New York Islanders and the Chicago Blackhawks at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner)

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

There is a lot of legwork to be done before a new Islanders arena in Belmont Park or Willets Point becomes a reality. But I've been assured talks are serious and not just a leverage play to force Barclays Center into making improvements. Some burning questions still remain, though, that could offer plenty of stumbling blocks before this even gets out of the gate. Let's take a look:

How will it be financed?

Public financing for sports stadiums and arenas is a notoriously bad investment, and in an arena like Long Island where any increase in properties taxes is about as popular as Kate Murray is at an Islanders fan tailgate, is ownership capable of financing the arena privately? Considering that the August 1, 2011 referendum failed thanks in large part to that relatively-small tax hike that Nassau pays, one would assume they know any attempt of getting funds from taxpayers would create a huge hurdle that they probably wouldn't overcome.

Are five arenas in the area too much?

Yes, ownership wants its own home for its team, and both the players and their fans deserve to be treated as more than a bothersome guest. But the reality is that the building would have to book dates outside of the 41-nights-plus-playoffs that the team takes the ice, and that means competing with Barclays Center, Madison Square Garden, the newly-renovated Nassau Coliseum, and the New Jersey-based Prudential Center for bookings.

MSG and Barclays both have astronomical venue fees (at last check, Barclays actually charges acts more than MSG), so I'd assume the building could coax some entertainers to the new venue simply by making them a sweeter deal. And they'd certainly have a huge advantage over the Coliseum, whose capacity would presumably be much smaller than a new Belmont or Queens arena. However, concern of oversaturation is a legitimate worry.

What's changed in the last seven years?

Once it was evident the Lighthouse project wasn't happening, Charles Wang went through the paces of finding the Isles a home outside of Uniondale. The Islanders talked with Mets ownership in 2009 about a Queens building, and obviously the difficulty presented by the Bernie Madoff saga contributed to putting that on ice. So has enough changed in that landscape to make the Mets viable partners? And just how large of a role does the ongoing litigation surrounding the Iron Triangle play in all this?

Does Scott Malkin offer an advantage?

Malkin, who has been the silent half of the ownership partnership thus far, knows the real estate game. He is said to have worked extensively with Sterling Equities (the Wilpon family-owned group) on deals in the past, and brings a ton of clout to these negotiations with the potential site officials. Simply, he just may be the trump card the Isles need to spearhead this project, something that Charles Wang never quite had in his hand. Malkin's presence could be enough to bring the Isles closer to home.


New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) looks on against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period of game two of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena. (Kim Klement)
New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) looks on against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period of game two of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena. (Kim Klement)

It's remarkable when you sit down and examine, in your own mind, the concept of time. As you get older, it seems to move faster and faster. Of course, time doesn't actually go faster, it just seems that way with increased responsibilities taking up most of the free hours we hold so dear.

I'm sure hockey players are no different in this mental phenomenon. To the New York Islanders, it probably seems as if the season just ended this past Sunday instead of May 8 in Tampa with a 4-0 loss eliminating them from the second round of the NHL playoffs.

Now, it's back in the gym preparing for a training camp in September that will be here in the blink of an eye, approximately eight short weeks away.

As we hit the unofficial mid-point of the offseason, we take a look back at what the Islanders needed, what they acquired, what they lost and what they still have to do to prepare for a 2016-17 season in which they should be considered an early playoff contender.

The Finish

New York followed up their first 100-point season since the dinosaurs roamed the earth -- ok, maybe not that long -- with another, falling one point shy of the previous season. More importantly, they continued to show improvement in the postseason, as their third appearance in the last four years finally brought them a series victory, knocking off the pesky Florida Panthers in six games on a John Tavares overtime winner in Brooklyn.

The Good

Tavares, even though his offensive output was down 16 points, continued to show maturity and leadership, guiding the Islanders through their first season at Barclays Center. Nick Leddy rebounded from a horrid first half to show why the Islanders locked him up to a smart, long-term deal. At only 25 years old, Leddy is under-compensated when you look at some of the other deals defenseman of similar ilk have signed.

Travis Hamonic rescinded his trade request and the fourth line was better than most teams' third on a consistent, shift-to-shift basis. New owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin took over on July 1 from Charles Wang, who retains a 15 percent ownership stake in the hockey club.

The Bad

Brock Nelson, his career-high 26 goals notwithstanding, faded at the wrong time for the second straight season, Ryan Strome had his worst season as a pro, from training camp right through the end, Anders Lee's offensive output was down and when he started picking it up, he suffered a broken leg at Madison Square Garden, ending his season.

Barclays Center was a talking point all season long, from the commute to the scoreboard, SUV, gameops and ice conditions. Whispers have not been silenced over the summer as rumors persist that new ownership might be looking for a way out.

Additions

General manager Garth Snow locked up almost all his free agents, with the exception of Strome and Christopher Gibson, whom he is still working with toward extensions. Andrew Ladd arrived from Chicago, Jason Chimera from Washington, and P.A. Parenteau made his return from Toronto.

Losses

Kyle Okposo signed a front-loaded deal with the Buffalo Sabres, Frans Nielsen took a change of scenery deal with Detroit, and Matt Martin got the contract dollars he wanted out of the Maple Leafs. Brian Strait signed with the Jets and Steve Bernier and Marek Zidlicky will not be returning as unrestricted free agents.

Salary Cap Situation

Have the Islanders ever been in a position where they had no internal salary cap and maintained a player payroll that was closer to the ceiling than the basement? I'll go ahead with the safe answer and say absolutely not. But that's where they find themselves now.

GM Garth Snow will be put to the test with a team that still needs some things but finds themselves without the cap space to take on any large additional salary. With Strome and Gibson (who likely will not be on NHL roster anyway and not count against cap) still to be signed, the Islanders find themselves with $3.658 million to spend.

What's Needed

The additions of Ladd and Parenteau, who are assumed to be playing with captain John Tavares between them, could offset the offensive losses of Okposo and Nielsen. Ladd will be much better defensively than Okposo, and Chimera replaces Martin nicely.

The Islanders have still not found a defensive replacement for Nielsen and could also use a big-time winger to slot into the lineup on a nightly basis. Not to mention the three-headed goaltender monster that needs to be rectified (Halak, Greiss, Berube).

With the aforementioned salary cap situation, it could make dealing difficult for Snow heading into the season, but that has not stopped him from conversing with almost every rival general manager this summer. You would think he is trying hard to move Mikhail Grabovski's contract off the books, before deciding whether to use a LTIR designation on him.

Josh Bailey and Nikolay Kulemin could also be in play, although with the departure of Nielsen's defensive prowess as mentioned earlier, Kulemin could be very valuable there.

In The System

New York has one of the deepest forward prospect pools in hockey. Teeming with talent, we should start seeing them trickle into the lineup, possibly as early as 2017-18.

Michael Dal Colle and Joshua Ho-Sang will start the season in Bridgeport, with Ho-Sang making his professional debut. Anthony Beauvillier will play his fourth and final season in the QMJHL and Matthew Barzal is Islanders or bust, as he will either earn a nine-game tryout or be back with the Seattle Thunderbirds for a final season.

Barzal has been battling hip issues this summer, keeping him off the ice for Islanders prospect camp and Canada's junior training camp. Keifer Bellows, a 2016 first round pick, is headed back to Boston University and is likely two to three seasons away.

Tags: Anders Lee , Brock Nelson , John Tavares , Josh Bailey , Mikhail Grabovski , Nick Leddy , Nikolay Kulemin , Ryan Strome , Travis Hamonic , Andy Graziano

 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

The end of last week read like a what's what of Islanders fans' pipe dreams. Rumors began to run rampant about the team's new ownership finding a new site for an arena of their own, first in Queens, then back in Nassau at Belmont. But just how much should we get our hopes up?

I can't blame fans, myself included, for being skeptical. We've heard it all before. Both destinations were floated as possibilities to host the Isles after the Lighthouse project fell through. We even bit hard on Brett Ratner's promise of a six-game plan back at the renovated Coliseum, which is all but dead now.

This time, though, may be different. There's a lot of smoke, and with it, could come a raging fire, with the Isles returning close to home at the heart of the flame.

I spoke with one person on the condition of anonymity who had been briefed on the talks between the Islanders and officials both in Queens and at Belmont. To try to get a sense of how realistic any of this was, I asked how seriously fans should take the talk about a new arena. I was told simply: "very."

That on its own wouldn't be enough to sway me, but I started reading the tea leaves around the situation and began to wonder.

If I'm staying skeptical, of course the Isles have to show they have plenty of options within the next three years. That way, if they want Barclays Center to make any improvements -- from the ice to the obstructed view seating to incorporating more Islanders branding throughout the arena -- they'll have some leverage. But I think Jon Ledecky sees getting the team an arena of its own as part of a much bigger picture.

Let's face it: the Islanders home schedule for the two years at Barclays Center has been abysmal. While the arena in Brooklyn figures out what it wants to be - a sporting venue that also attracts big musical acts, or a music venue that also hosts two sports teams - the Isles certainly don't feel like a priority, even if Brett Yormark says otherwise.

Ledecky spoke so much about the fan experience two weeks ago to the media and fans, and how he feels it can be improved. You can't tell me that fan experience is the same at a 3:00 puck drop on a Sunday afternoon in the middle of a full slate of NFL games than it is on Saturday night at 7:00. And those Saturday slots are basically forbidden at Barclays, between the Nets and saving the dates for concert bookings.

On top of that that, Ledecky probably wants control of his own team's business operations, which Barclays Center took over last season as part of the lease agreement, and most likely believes that the Isles - if they break through and become a top-five team in the league - can obliterate that $53 million per year guarantee from the arena in revenue.

Of course, there is always a possibility that the Barclays people want out, even if the Islanders don't. I don't think anyone with knowledge of the relationship would call the marriage between Barclays Center and the Islanders a match made in Heaven. Prior to the opt-out after year four, it might behoove the Isles to line up as many viable alternatives as possible.

Ultimately, I think the new ownership group believes a great deal in this team's future, and I think part of the lofty ambitions they have may very well be getting the team that sparkly new arena of its own that fans have been promised for almost as long as I've been alive. There's a lot of real estate (no pun intended) for these various negotiations to cover, but don't dismiss them out of hand. There's more to this story than rumor and speculation.

Tags: Brian Erni

Feb 15, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders celebrate after the game against the Detroit Red Wings at Barclays Center. The Islanders defeated the Red Wings 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports  (Brad Penner)
Feb 15, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders celebrate after the game against the Detroit Red Wings at Barclays Center. The Islanders defeated the Red Wings 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The Islanders are looking at Belmont Park in Elmont as a possible location to build a new arena, sources told Newsday's Robert Brodsky and Jim Baumbach

A source told Newsday that the talks between the Islanders and the New York Racing Association, which runs Belmont Park, are in the early stages, but another source said the two sides have met a few times to discuss possibly bringing a hockey arena to the park.

According to the report, the Islanders are interested in a 28-acre portion of the park's south parking lot, which has been up for bid since 2012. Previous bidders include the New York Cosmos, which planned to build a 25,000-seat stadium. 

In a report released by Bloomberg on Thursday, sources said the Islanders have considered a move to Queens near Citi Field

In 2015-16, the Islanders played in Barclays Center for the first time, averaging 13,626 fans per game, which was an 11 percent decrease in attendance from the last season at Nassau Coliseum. 


Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

The big drawback of the Belmont site is the ambiguity that surrounds it. The site has been up for bid since 2012, but it still hasn't been awarded. Belmont officials are not giving any indication if a decision is imminent either.

That said, the fact that Belmont seems to be actively courting the Isles is very intriguing, and it would certainly be a better option than even Queens. A return to Nassau? The fan base would be delirious.
I have to say, as I read the tea leaves, I'm starting to get the sense that a move to either Queens or Belmont is more than just a bargaining position for the Isles. There's a lot more viability to this than initially met the eye.
I'm very intrigued to see where this heads, and with only three years left before the opt out rolls around, I have a feeling we'll get answers sooner than later.

The Islanders have signed RW Eric Boulton to a one-year, two-way deal, his agent announced.

The deal has a guarantee of $200,000 and will pay Boulton $575,000 if he's with the big club, Arthur Staple of Newsday reported.

Boulton, 39, failed to notch a goal or assist in six games with the Islanders last season. 


Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

To a man, the Isles tout Boulton as one of their most important voices in the locker room, his lack of contribution on the ice notwithstanding.
He has a great sense of humor, and keeps the room loose, but focused. That counts for quite a lot, especially when you consider that the Isles' roster is still relatively young.
I'd assume Boulton will spend the bulk of his season at Bridgeport acting as a mentor for the young players moving through the system. And, just like Matt Carkner, who just transitioned into coaching after his retirement, I wouldn't be surprised to see Boulton find his way onto the Sound Tigers staff at some point in the near future.

 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

It's only been a few years since they entered a new marriage in Brooklyn, but the Islanders are finally going to flirt with the one that got away.

Thursday's bombshell report that the Isles have been in talks with the owners of the New York Mets (disclosure: the Wilpon family-owned Sterling Equities owns a controlling stake of SNY) sent #IslesTwitter into another tizzy, and this time, it was with gleaming optimism.

Whenever Long Islanders sit over a Barn Rocker or two and lament the loss of the Islanders to Brooklyn, Queens is always brought up as a missed opportunity. It's in the city and carries the big-time cache, is but still easily accessible without having to rely on mass transit.

Plus, it's fairly common for the Mets and Isles fan bases to have overlap, and forming a type of sports complex in Flushing -- like for example the Phillies, Eagles, and Flyers have in Philadelphia -- seemed like a no-brainer. For whatever reason, nothing materialized. Until now.

And if Jon Ledecky could somehow pull it off, I think it would really be the perfect solution for Long Islanders. Without trying to speak for everyone, I feel it's fair to say that since the move to Brooklyn became a reality, the fan base has wanted two things above all others: to somehow get the team out of Brooklyn and closer to their Nassau County roots, or worst case, find a way to make Barclays Center a suitable arena for hockey. It certainly appears that one of these is the ultimate mission of these leaked talks. It's just a matter of which.

Let's face it, the large majority of the fan base is based on Long Island (myself included). We like to drive. We like to tailgate. And if we're coming from Suffolk County, we like to leave work at an acceptable hour (read: not 4:00) to get to a game, and make it home before midnight on a work night.

Personally, I didn't make it to Brooklyn nearly as much as I wanted to last year. If the Isles inked a deal to go to Queens, I'd be calling inquiring about season tickets again. That's just how much easier it is for a Suffolk resident to get to a potential Citi Field arena than Brooklyn.

And even if this is just posturing on Ledecky's part, it's a wise one. With that opt-out clause looming down the line, the Islanders have a finite window of leverage to try to get some costly improvements incorporated into their current home. Maybe if Barclays Center, which has a rebuilding basketball team that isn't going to be good for a while, is faced with the prospect of 41 less dates, they'll be more inspired to fix some of the obstructed view problems.

It goes without saying that this is probably a long shot. Redeveloping the Willets Point "Iron Triangle" has always had its pitfalls, which is why after decades of planning, the area is still largely in disrepair. Who knows what kind of approval they'd have to get from the league, the owners, and the city. What will the financing for a new arena be like? But if they can clear all those hurdles, it would essentially solve every single one of the Islanders' problems with their current home.

And so we wait again. This time, with hope. Hope that, one day soon, we'll be honking our horns to the tune of "Let's go Islanders!" on the way out of the parking lot after a gigantic playoff win, or dare we do too much dreaming, a Stanley Cup championship.

Time will tell if this is just another humorous chapter in the Islanders' never-ending arena drama. But at least this time, both potential outcomes look fairly promising.

Tags: Brian Erni

 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

The Islanders are in talks with Mets ownership about a potential move to Queens, reports Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg.

According to Soshnick, a move to Queens for the Islanders would include a new arena built next to Citi Field.

The potential move has been under discusion for months, Soshnick added.

After moving from Long Island, the Islanders played their first season at Barclays Center in Brooklyn last season, averaging 13,626 fans per game.

Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter

Well, that certainly came out of left field, didn't it? Am I surprised? No. But I also wouldn't read too much into the story at such an early stage.

It's very interesting that, when news concerning the roster and players who will suit up for the 2016-17 season dies down, we get two interesting pieces of media. First, the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum Twitter account showing pictures of the construction, as well as a look into what one of the luxury boxes will look like. Now this.

I guess what this story does is finally quiet, once and for all, the talk of the Islanders ever returning to the refurbished Coliseum. But there are zero media members who saw a potential partnership with the Mets and Willets Point ever being on new owner Jon Ledecky's agenda.

There were whispers last season that he was unhappy with the current Barclays Center setup, but with game operations much improved over the course of the season and the building rocking in the playoffs, some of those complaints were dealt with and resolved quickly.

A couple of things to note: The sources here are 'people'. We don't know how reliable these 'people' are or who these 'people' even are personally. But for Bloomberg -- a very reputable outlet -- to put something like this out to the mainstream, there has to be a certain amount of credibility to it.

Ledecky seems to be putting more public relations work into the hands of guru Kimber Auerbach, much more so than Charles Wang did. And Auerbach's 'no-comment on speculation' remark is consistent with how he has operated the department since being promoted. It's a safe, effective answer.

Lastly, this marriage can still work. Ledecky told media members, including IPB, at lunch last Wednesday that he speaks to Barclays every single day. He obviously has some issues relating to his new business venture. If those get worked out to his liking, don't be surprised if this becomes a non-issue very quickly.

The kicker is, no matter what is speculated, the Islanders would be foolish to walk away from $53 million in guaranteed funds per season, unless it's really worth it.


New York Islanders center Mikhail Grabovski (84) skates on the ice before playing the Pittsburgh Penguins at the CONSOL Energy Center. (Charles LeClaire)
New York Islanders center Mikhail Grabovski (84) skates on the ice before playing the Pittsburgh Penguins at the CONSOL Energy Center. (Charles LeClaire)

Mikhail Grabovski's time as an Islander has seen the talented, but maligned forward riddled with injuries. And he may not be past his latest yet.

Grabovski, who had his last two seasons derailed by concussions and played in just one game after February 19 last year, could miss the start of the regular season.

In a Twitter Q&A on Wednesday, Newsday's Art Staple said that he has heard conflicting reports on Grabovski's availability for the beginning of the 2016-17 campaign.

Earlier this week, our Andy Graziano reported, citing a league source, that the Isles are trying to trade Grabovski to get out from under his $5 million cap hit for next season.

In 109 games over two seasons for the Islanders, Grabovski has scored 18 goals, tallied 26 assists, and posted a 52.3 Corsi For Percentage.

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

It's a shame, because Grabovski is talented and does a lot of good for this team when he's in the lineup. I'm still convinced that the funk the Isles hit at the latter half of 2014-15 was directly attributable to losing Grabovski to injury. But that's always been the problem for the 32 year old. Over the course of eight full NHL seasons, he has played in 59 games or fewer in half of them (not counting the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season).

We all know that the Isles overpaid to bring Grabovski and Nikolay Kulemin in the summer of 2014 to offset their lack of depth up front at the time. And now that some younger players are taking, those big cap numbers loom larger and larger with each passing day, particularly when there's so much ambiguity surrounding Grabo's health. Hopefully, he can heal and be ready to contribute next season. But the way it's gone in New York so far for Grabovski, I wouldn't be surprised if he's just not ready to go when it's time to go to camp.

Tags: Mikhail Grabovski

 (Kim Klement)
(Kim Klement)

Sunday afternoon, an unconfirmed rumor made the rounds across Twitter, saying the New York Islanders were close to a deal involving Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning, mentioning Ryan Strome as part of the package heading to South Florida.

A league source told IPB that this is not the case at the present time. While it's true that GM Garth Snow has 30 lines in the water still hoping to hook a trophy catch before the puck drops on the 2016-17 season, including one in Tampa, there are a number of reasons why this (and perhaps Tampa in general) isn't a match...

1.) Salary Cap Issues: These are not your Islanders from five years ago, with a roster made up of a star in the making, a couple of low-priced entry-level deals and veterans on show-me contracts. They don't have the cap space to play with like they did back in the grim days.

Currently, generalfanager.com is showing New York $3.658 million under the ceiling, with the aforementioned Strome still needing a contract as a restricted free agent. Christopher Gibson needs one also, but he will not be on the NHL roster, and therefore, won't count against the cap.

Tampa has $8.529 million in available cap space with Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov and Nikita Nesterov to sign. The thinking is that Kucherov can approach six million on a long-term deal, leaving GM Steve Yzerman not much room to work with.

2.) Of the three players Yzerman has issues with, why would they move the most talented one? Remember when the thinking was that captain Steven Stamkos was a goner? That there was no way Yzerman could work out an amicable deal? Yzerman has pushed all the right buttons as an executive as he did as a player.

Kucherov is a 23-year-old Russian dynamo who already has back-to-back seasons of 65 and 66 points, with 29 and 30 goals, respectively. He has terrific possession stats and, for such a young player, is playoff tested, with 22 goals in 45 games. This is not the kind of player Yzerman is looking to trade just because it's mid-July and there is no contract yet.

3.) Ryan Strome is still packed with tremendous talent: It's there and has been since he was the fifth overall selection in the 2011 entry draft. You don't have a 50-point season as an NHL sophomore by accident. Sure, there were some issues last year relating to attitude, but are you really using that to claim three strikes against the 23-year-old?

As noted, the Islanders are closer to the ceiling at present than Tampa, and Strome is not going to command the contract Kucherov will. He'll probably get more like a fifth of it.

Make no mistake, last year was a horrid one for Strome. You know it, Snow and head coach Jack Capuano know it, and Strome knows it. The feeling is that he deserves the benefit of the doubt and the 2016-17 season to prove --perhaps at his natural position -- that it was part of the maturation process.

4.) There seems to be no current indication that Snow is willing to gamble on Ben Bishop's salary demands as an unrestricted free agent next year: Right now, Bishop carries a cap hit of $5.950 million and there are rumblings from his agent that he is looking to $7 million on his next contract.

Bishop is one of the best goaltenders in the league, but does have some durability concerns. He's had a couple of playoff injuries the last two seasons and is coming off 60+ game regular season workloads. The feeling around the league is he is not worth the salary he is commanding.

5.) This isn't XBOX one or PS4: You can't just hit the 'X' button and give away your bad, underperforming contracts that easily. The league source told IPB that Snow has been trying to get out from under Mikhail Grabovski's $5 million cap hit, but obviously, teams are reluctant due to recent medical concerns and the fact there is no telling he can make it through training camp.

There is the assumption that the Islanders still view Nikolay Kulemin's overall game as something they would like to hold onto, especially the defensive aspect he brings, to help offset the departure of Frans Nielsen.

The goaltender glut will also likely not be resolved anytime soon, as Jaroslav Halak ($4.500 million cap hit) is in a similar situation to Grabovski, coming off a major injury which lowered his trade value. Both Halak and Thomas Greiss are headed to the World Cup of Hockey instead of training camp in September, but there are no guarantees there either, with Frederik Andersen in the mix to start for Team Europe.

Snow seems to be leaving no stone unturned in the trade market with a lot of different conversations taking place. With the marketplace changing daily, things tend to happen quickly, without warning or any kind of heads up. Boychuk/Leddy, anyone? We could be looking at a repeat this fall.

Tags: Mikhail Grabovski , Nikolay Kulemin , Ryan Strome , Andy Graziano

 (Kim Klement)
(Kim Klement)

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

Jamie Benn signed an eight-year contract extension worth $76 million with the Dallas Stars last Friday. Why does it matter to Islanders fans? Because it could be a template for John Tavares' next contract.

Benn is the perfect comp for Tavares. He is 27, Tavares is 26. Benn has played in just two less NHL games (508) than Tavares (510), and the numbers are strikingly similar.

The Stars winger has 192 goals, 256 assists, 448 points, and a career 52 Corsi For Percentage. Tavares has 207 goals, 264 assists, 471 points, and a career 51.1 Corsi For Percentage. So is this the kind of deal the Isles can sign their captain to when they're eligible to next summer, one year before he'd be due to hit his UFA year? Probably.

The deal comes with a $9.5 million AAV, and like the deals signed this year by Andrew Ladd, Kyle Okposo, and others, a large chunk of the money is to be paid in signing bonuses (in Benn's case, $56 of the $76 million). That will help safeguard Benn against losing any money due to a work stoppage and/or a buyout.

Benn's deal is player-friendly, and even though the the salary is front-loaded ($13 million in the first three years, down to $6.5 the final three), the cap hit isn't affected (thanks to Eric Hornick for the head's up!) It also includes a full non-move clause.

Without any insight into Tavares' thinking, I would assume that kind of deal would be very attractive to him. He'd get a commitment into his age-35 season and get paid like the superstar he is, all while getting protected against a potential lockout.

With lots of salary due to expire after the 2018-19 season (Nikolay Kulemin, Mikhail Grabovski, Jaroslav Halak, Josh Bailey), the Isles should be able to easily absorb paying Tavares $9-10 million annually and still maintain enough flexibility to add the talent they need to be competitive.

All the while, the Isles would earn all that good will from making sure one of the best talents to ever wear their sweater (and that's saying something) will never play for another franchise. That's what Jon Ledecky has promised, that's what Islanders fans want, and that's what New York can deliver if they're willing to pony up for a Benn-like deal.

To me, it's a no-brainer. Once next season ends, this is the deal I'd offer. Yes, it's pricey, but Tavares is well worth the investment.

Tags: John Tavares , Brian Erni

Brian Compton and Mike Carver discuss Kyle Okposo's written goodbye to the fans and Garth Snow's interview on SiriusXM Radio.

Later, the guys chat with Arthur Staple of Newsday about the team's moves this offseason and the job security of Snow and Jack Capuano as Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin take over as owners of the franchise.

Tags: Kyle Okposo

 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

A new era of Islanders ownership was ushered in on July 1, when Scott Malkin and Jonathan Ledecky assumed 85 percent control over the business operations of the hockey club.

On Wednesday afternoon, Ledecky hosted a four-table open conversation session with members of the media at Manhattan's exclusive 21 Club to discuss his platform for turning New York into a 'world class organization that players want to come to and don't want to leave.'

He followed that on Thursday by meeting with fans at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, an event hosted by MSG's Shannon Hogan, which also featured appearances and comments by Brock Nelson, Casey Cizikas and Bob Nystrom.

Appearing equally comfortable in both settings, Ledecky offered up some interesting comments on the future of how the team will be run while also taking some shots across the bow of the Islanders cross-town rivals, the New York Rangers.

The audience of each event came away impressed with all the learning Ledecky was able to do in the background over the course of the last two years. Since the deal was announced, he has possessed the vision and drive to return the Islanders to relevance while infusing a celebration of old and new traditions.

After speaking about how he and Malkin first met, in which Ledecky was a sports journalist covering his high school hockey team, of which Malkin was a player, he described the bond they formed that still lasts to this day.

Malkin seems to be more of the 'silent partner' type, as his global travel schedule as founder of Value Retail PLC keeps him on the road more often than not. Ledecky said the two speak every day and this would be his full-time job, from the time he awakens at 8 a.m. until settling in for the night around midnight.

His focus will be on the business operations side exclusively, as his comments made it pretty clear he will not be a meddling' owner. '

"The worst kind of owner is one who meddles in hockey operations. I will not tell (GM) Garth (Snow) how to do his job. That is how disaster starts," Ledecky added before finally putting an end to what kind of financial team the Islanders will be, stating "we will spend to the cap to win the Stanley Cup." Words to a long-time or decade-long Islanders fans' ears, after being beaten down by ownership follies that Saturday Night Live skits are made of and financial constraints put on a GM trying desperately to rebuild and field a competitive roster.

Ledecky would walk the concourse of Barclays Center, sometimes being mistaken for an usher, adding color to his philosophy of rebuilding the Islanders image. "The great thing about being invisible for two years, because your picture is not online or in the newspaper, is I talked to hundreds of fans anonymously, and not posing as the owner, just posing as a fan, sometimes wearing a coat and tie," Ledecky said.

"The most important thing was to take that feedback, because you're competing against this wonderful ghost in the Coliseum," he continued. "The Coliseum had a whole bunch of issues, but nostalgia overwhelms our fans, as it overwhelms all of us as we get older. We have to make Barclays Center feel more like the Islanders' home. It's a wonderful facility, but it is generic. So we're working with Barclays. In the middle of last season, we weren't happy with the scoreboard presentation, so we sat down with them, and they're great partners, and they got a production company to start increasing the professionalism and expand the number of the videos to engage the fans."

The fans seem to be the focus of Ledecky's initial agenda, but that strategy has implications that go well beyond and extend to the bottom line of wins and losses on the ice. That is, making this an organization and destination that keeps players here and lures the best talent from around the league.

"We should be the world-class destination for free agents," Ledecky said. "If you think about a cap world, everybody can spend to the cap and we certainly have no constraints on our GM and our staff to spend. We want to create and continue to progress towards John Tavares lifting that Stanley Cup, so we should be world class in everything we do."

"If I see a tweet from a player's wife complaining about the Barclays Center experience, it makes me cringe," Ledecky continued. "What's wrong with the family experience at Barlcays? Let's fix it. Let's get the buzz that you want to be playing for the New York Islanders, because they are a world-class group, world class in the way they travel, where they stay, how they treat the players."

You get the feeling that Ledecky will spare no expense to make the fans comfortable and wanting to come back to Barclays Center again and again. He spoke of one incident where a fan complained after an Islanders loss about the food. He then went around to almost every vendor in the facility to find out what happened and how they can rectify the situation.

The next game, an Islanders win, he saw the same fan and Ledecky asked him about his culinary experience this time. 'Fantastic. Everything was great!, he was told. 'Winning really does make food taste better,' Ledecky quipped with a boyish grin.

Take what Ledecky said about Montreal at face value to fully understand how serious he is about the fan experience in Brooklyn. "In Montreal they're there, and if there's one imperfection on that glass, they're replacing it for their fans. That's meticulousness. If you start with that it permeates through the whole organization. It's like when the squeegee men were in New York City. Get rid of the squeegee men and all of a sudden the feeling about New York went up. It's the same thing. When you start from the most basic thing and work your way up from there you become successful."

When a premium ticket holder complained to Ledecky last season, he went right to the source. "They said, 'Jon, I can't see through the glass.' I finally went to Brett and said, 'I'm sorry, each pane of glass is $750. You need to buy new panes of glass and when I get that complaint you have to fix that. That's our stockholder.'"

On the topic of Barclays Center itself, the time has come to move on from the fans fantasy of seeing this team move back to a refurbished Nassau Coliseum.

Ledecky would not comment much on any particulars relating to a still largely uncorroborated report of a five-year out clause, saying, "We didn't make that deal. I wasn't there when that deal was cooked up. And Bruce Ratner is no longer there. I think the Barclays folks feel like we feel, which is: Hey, fresh start, blank piece of paper."We have the guidelines of this relationship. But I have to give them credit: When we were very unhappy with the video presentation, they did something about it. When we were unhappy about the ice, they brought in the chillers. When we still were unhappy with the ice, we went to the NHL and they brought in [ice expert] Dan Craig."

He finished off his thought by answering the question of if he sees the Islanders at Barclays Center for a long time by saying "Yes. Yes, I do. Barclays Center is our home."

For the record, the NHL has so far been reluctant to even discuss the proposed 'six-game' plan for the new Coliseum and with work looking far from being completed, there won't be any more discussions at least until the building is completely finished and open for business.

For an afternoon and subsequent evening, Ledecky mastered the art of public relations. He said everything he needed to, with enthusiasm and confidence. You get the feeling that he is truly legitimate, sincere and excited to finally be working full-time on everything Islanders.

As we stood just inside the entrance to the Gallery Room of the 21 Club, talking before the media session got underway, Ledecky told me how excited he was to be reading my work, congratulated me on my new position at SNY, and went on to speak of his dislike of the shots required to head off to Rio and watch his niece, swimmer Katie Ledecky, participate in the summer Olympics. For a second, I felt like I was talking to someone I went to high school with. It's that kind of personality that endears Ledecky to many that he comes across.

But, as we've said before in this space, it's a results-based business. And the results are all that are going to define where Jonathan Ledecky and Scott Malkin end up in the storied history of the New York Islanders. We finished our personal conversation with Ledecky saying, 'If we're doing well, you'll write about it. If we're not doing well, make sure you write about that too."

Tags: Andy Graziano

A general view of a jersey for Metropolitan Division forward John Tavares (91) of the New York Islanders being made during the Fan Fair for the 2016 NHL All Star Game at Bridgestone Arena. (Aaron Doster)
A general view of a jersey for Metropolitan Division forward John Tavares (91) of the New York Islanders being made during the Fan Fair for the 2016 NHL All Star Game at Bridgestone Arena. (Aaron Doster)

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

Jon Ledecky is busy making friends everywhere he goes. On Thursday night, Islanders season ticket holders were next on his to-woo list, and he hit all the right notes.

Appearing alongside Bob Nystrom, Casey Cizikas, and Brock Nelson, Ledecky fielded questions from season subscribers, and he knocked the ball out of the park. Just like his sit down with various members of the New York hockey media, Ledecky came off passionate, honest, and most of all, devoted to making this organization the absolutely best it can be.

"What we are going to do is open the checkbook. You're going to have a team that, if it needs to be a cap max team to compete for the Cup, it will be a cap max team," he said, reiterating the point he made to the media on Tuesday. "You guys have been through thick and thin, and thick is really good, and it's going to get thicker. Our goal next year is to keep advancing in the playoffs."

That had to be music to Isles fans' ears, especially these season ticket holders who are maybe the heartiest bunch of fans in the entire sports world. They've had their patience tested, but many have kept their plan through the Gang of Four, John Spano, Milstein and Gluckstern, Mike Milbury's devolution into "Mad Mike," the Lighthouse Project, and the most recent rebuild. They've heard a lot of promises, and seen the vast majority of them broken. Like a lover who has been jilted a dozen too many times, Isles fans are desperate to eat up these new pretty words. This time, they very well may be worth believing.

It's a strange dynamic to be an Islanders fan born after the dynasty, that much I can attest to. We're just not used to getting nice things and seeing them last. We've seen our own draft picks, like Roberto Luongo and Zdeno Chara, get hastily dealt away and find superstardom elsewhere. We've seen bursts of contention, followed by years of continued downturn. Right now feels different, because it looks like a team on the precipice of something great. But there's always that inner id setting our default to gloom and doom. That's why some just flat out lost it when three homegrown talents found somewhere else to play this summer, and why some remain so convinced John Tavares' days in Brooklyn are numbered.

Which is why the pop of the night probably came when Shannon Hogan specifically asked the possibility of John Tavares becoming an unrestricted free agent two summers from now.

"What," Ledecky asked defiantly. "He's not going to be a free agent."

This man may just be the fastest person to get this popular on Long Island since Billy Joel.

Thus far, every word from Ledecky has sounded sweet, and it's hard not to notice just how earnest he seems delivering them. From the roster to the fan experience, it seems he wants to finally be the one to fill Isles fans' hearts with joy. If and when a fifth Cup comes to Brooklyn, he even pledged to get every season ticket holder a ring. That's enough to send some to the box office this morning.

Of course, history will tell us if Ledecky can deliver on his lofty promises. A decade from now, we may smile at these last few days as the moment this organization broke through the glass ceiling it seemed to have been living under for 30 years. Or, we may simply shake our heads at the next in a line of people who got our hopes up. But Ledecky is making believers out of everyone he talks to, and even if you're actively trying to stay skeptical, it's hard not to buy in. Let's see if he can deliver.

My thanks to IslesBlog (who Periscoped the event) and Lighthouse Hockey (for a few transcriptions). 

Tags: John Tavares , Brian Erni

Michael Dal Colle after being selected as the number five overall pick to the New York Islanders in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher)
Michael Dal Colle after being selected as the number five overall pick to the New York Islanders in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher)

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

Slowly but surely, the Isles' forward prospects' time is arriving. So who has the inside track on cracking the NHL roster?

It's tough to say. After years of spending their picks primarily on defensemen (in the 2012 draft, they used all seven picks on d-men, headlined by Griffin Reinhart), many of the Isles' future hopes now ride on the development of these four forward picks. Michael Dal Colle, Josh Ho-Sang, Mathew Barzal, and Anthony Beauvillier are all first rounders, three of which were taken with picks that the Isles weren't even supposed to own on the night they were drafted. And they're all hungry to make the squad and make an impact in Brooklyn.

Of course, each comes with their own interesting tale. For Dal Colle, it's in his role in the much-maligned Thomas Vanek trade. Garth Snow protected his first round rights in 2014 when he made the Vanek swap with the Sabres, and he opted to keep it for his own use that summer. Dal Colle was taken fifth overall, and responded with a 42 goal season in Oshawa en route to a Memorial Cup and some serious summer chatter about him making the roster out of last camp.

Ho-Sang's story needs no re-telling. Brian Compton put together a great profile on the talented, but controversial winger who overslept last prospect mini-camp and was sent home before he even got a chance to hit the ice. Ho-Sang's talents are irrefutable, but he's had to face adversity along the way, some self-inflicted and some not. His personality seemed to rub the notoriously-crotchety Canadian hockey people the wrong way, and that's no fault of his own. But stuff like the oversleeping incident is a hurdle he made for himself. Thankfully, Ho-Sang is eager to show how much he's matured.

"He's focused in," Islanders director of player development Eric Cairns told Compton. "He took some steps this year towards being a more reliable guy off the ice, as well as on the ice. He's a mature guy, but he also needs to keep on learning the steps to do the right things at all time, which is normal for a lot of different young men."

The cases of Barzal and Beauvillier are related, but different. Both were drafted thanks to Snow's wheeling and dealing for picks on draft night 2015, and they both impressed people around the in the 15-16 season. Barzal is said to have the highest ceiling of all Islanders prospects, but I think that may work against him getting a shot at the roster first. The Isles have been very cautious before throwing their big prospects into the fire. If they really believe Barzal is the best of the bunch, there may be a reason to give him room to get a bit more seasoned.

Because of his size, Beauvillier is a prospect that most didn't expect to move as quickly as Barzal, but back-to-back 40 goal seasons at Juniors have certainly raised expectations. His skating ability makes one wonder if he has the potential to be a special teams player, but before he gets the call, I think the Isles will want to give him plenty of time in the AHL to see how his game rounds into form, something both he and Barzal can't do for another year until they turn 20.

Of all of them, Barzal seems to be the consensus to being the closest, and Garth left room for the possibility that may be the case in a recent interview. But he also never singled Barzal out by name, as he wisely is tempering expectations across the board. Getting a read on Garth's front office is never easy to do, so it's hard to be sure of anything.

If I had to put money on it, though, I'll go out on a limb and say MDC gets the call first. Barzal might be going off at even money, but I love Dal Colle's mental make up, and I think it puts him closer to the NHL than most people realize. I'll play the predictions game and say Dal Colle turns a lot of heads in training camp, then get the nod after lighting up Bridgeport sometime late in the fall.

But no matter if it's Dal Colle, Barzal, or someone else, the Isles have a bit of luxury brewing at forward down on the farm. If all four develop into anywhere from serviceable-to-good NHL players, there will be some very bright days in store for us all at Atlantic and Flatbush. 


The Barclays Center hosts Game 3 of the Islanders-Panthers playoff series Sunday. (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY )
The Barclays Center hosts Game 3 of the Islanders-Panthers playoff series Sunday. (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY )

Newly-minted Islanders co-owner Jonathan Ledecky addressed the media at length for the first time in his tenure on Wednesday, and he certainly made an impression right out of the gate.

After decades of ownership seemingly being a hurdle in the hockey operations process, Ledecky was quick to dispel the notion he'd be a stumbling block for Garth Snow. He said that the worst kind of owners are those who interfere in hockey ops, and a result, he will let Garth focus on the on-ice product, while he will concentrate on maximizing the fan experience at the arena, and making an impact on the community.

Wait, this is an Islanders owner?

Hold on to your hats, because there's more! Ledecky also added that money is not an issue, and Garth Snow has "no financial constraints" to build the club into a winner.

"If we need to be a cap-max team to compete for the Stanley Cup, we will be," Ledecky told reporters in attendance, including our own Andy Graziano.

Ledecky also said that he envisions the Islanders remaining in Brooklyn long-term, but he would not commit to a six-game plan to play at the newly renovated Nassau Coliseum. He also tempered expectations that the Isles' AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, would move into the new Coliseum, something that had been widely speculated since Forest City Ratner won the redevelopment bid for the Coliseum.

I'll give this to Ledecky: He certainly has mastered the art of wooing the media. If you check in on Twitter, all the reports from this event were glowing. I wasn't in attendance, so I'm not quite as ensconced in the afterglow of his charisma. That's not to say I doubt him. I love that he seems to be a great guy, and cares so much about the organization. That can only mean good things for the fans, of which I am one. And I also find this people skills encouraging from a hockey perspective, because a lot of times, it's ownership that can come in later in a contract negotiation and lock up the deal.

In that vein, I'm sure this is everything that Isles fans were hoping to hear coming out of the Charles Wang era. Wang did all he could, but he was obviously financially strapped for most of his tenure. It seems that won't be a problem for Ledecky and Malkin group, and that's music to my ears. This is a New York team with an incredible history, slowly re-gaining their footing in a market with tons of money to go around. Why not throw every resource possible at producing a winner, provided it's done wisely?

I think most fans will be upset to hear about the Coliseum news, but truthfully, it's time to leave that in the past. Brooklyn is the place for this team now, and with that rumored opt-out clause looming, what I wanted to hear Ledecky is that he's committed to making Barclays Center the best venue it can be. That was all he seemed to talk about, so that's the biggest takeaway out of this from me.

Ledecky made a lot of friends in his first showing. Let's hope he only continues to make more as the years go on. 

Stay tuned for more from Andy, including his first-hand accounts and impression of Ledecky.

Tags: Brian Erni

Referee Bill McCreary (7) stands with his wife Mary Ann (L) and daughter Melissa (LC) as Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee (R) presents McCreary with a silver puck prior to his final regular season game as an NHL referee. (Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE)
Referee Bill McCreary (7) stands with his wife Mary Ann (L) and daughter Melissa (LC) as Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee (R) presents McCreary with a silver puck prior to his final regular season game as an NHL referee. (Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE)

New York Islanders special advisor George McPhee will be named the general manager of the NHL's expansion franchise in Las Vegas, as confirmed by Scott Burnside of ESPN.

McPhee served as GM of the Washington Capitals from 1997-2014, helping the team reach it's first and only Stanley Cup Finals in 1998. Under McPhee, the Capitals won seven Southeast Division championships and a Presidents' Trophy as the NHL's top regular season team in 2009-2010. 

McPhee's most recent position in the NHL was a special advisor role to Islanders GM Garth Snow.

The Las Vegas franchise will begin play in 2017-2018. Before its first season, the team will draft players from each of the 30 current NHL teams in an expansion draft that will be held next June.

 


New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield (42) celebrates his goal against the Boston Bruins with defenseman Thomas Hickey (14) during the third period at TD Garden. (Winslow Townson)
New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield (42) celebrates his goal against the Boston Bruins with defenseman Thomas Hickey (14) during the third period at TD Garden. (Winslow Townson)

The New York Islanders have signed D Scott Mayfield to a two-year, one-way contract, according to Arthur Staple of Newsday. Mayfield's deal is for $625,000 AAV.

Mayfield appeared in six games for the Islanders last season, and scored his first career goal on April 9 against Buffalo.

In 54 games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers this past season, Mayfield had 5 goals and 7 assists.

The 23-year old defenseman will make $575,000 in the first year of his deal and $675,000 in the second year.

The Islanders selected Mayfield with the 34th overall selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.


Jun 27, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Joshua Ho-Sang after being selected as the number twenty-eight overall pick to the New York Islanders in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)
Jun 27, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Joshua Ho-Sang after being selected as the number twenty-eight overall pick to the New York Islanders in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)

Joshua Ho-Sang constantly thinks about what went wrong for him last fall, according to a story on by Islanders Point Blank podcast co-host, NHL.com's Brian Compton.

"It's tough. I think about it every day," Ho-Sang said. "In a lot of ways, it helped me, and in a lot ways, it was hard. It's part of the reason why I grew up a little more and have come a long way from my mistakes."

Last fall, Ho-Sang, the Islanders' 2014 first-round selection, was invited to the team preseason camp to earn a starting spot on the NHL roster.

The first day of camp, Ho-Sang overslept and was immeadiately sent back to the Islanders OHL affiliate where he had tallied 62 points in 49 games the year before.

Ho-Sang would go on to put up 82 points in 66 games for the 2015-2016 season.

The Islanders organization says they still believe in Ho-Sang and will not give up on him. Ho-Sang says he reflects on what happened as a learning experience.

"For me, it's just about moving forward," Ho-Sang said. "I'm really excited to start the next chapter of my hockey career.

"If you're not growing, you're not living."

 

Tags: Joshua Ho-Sang

 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

After a flurry of activity the week prior to the opening of free agency and on July 1 itself, the market has gone quiet the last couple of days.

All the major names are off the board and teams are now looking to manage their internal and external salary caps and turn their attention to restricted free agents that need contracts.

A source indicated to IPB that Islanders GM Garth Snow, after having serious interest in Loui Eriksson, who signed in Vancouver, is keeping tabs on Shane Doan, an unrestricted free agent from the Arizona Coyotes.

The trade market, changing on a daily basis as to who is really available and who isn't, seems to be very lively, as some teams look to position themselves before the start of training camp in mid-September while others wait in the weeds for the perfect time to strike.

As you remember from two seasons ago when the Islanders struck gold with Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy a week before the start of the regular season, this could be a painstaking process for fans who are eager to see their team strike a deal, and the Islanders are no exception.

Even though the consensus opinion is that Snow did well to replace his losses, the need is still there for an impact winger and the three-headed goaltender monster needs to be addressed.

The same source told IPB that Snow has been involved in conversations throughout the league, looking to trade. There was no indication on specific names the Islanders GM is offering up, but Evander Kane was mentioned on the other side, with Snow being reluctant to give up 'significant' assets for the much-maligned Sabres winger. The 24-year-old Kane is under contract for the next two seasons at an annual cap hit of $5.250 million.

If it was up to me, I would be calling the Toronto Maple Leafs (and who knows, maybe Snow did) and finding out if Middletown, New Jersey native James Van Reimsdyk would be willing to come home and what the cost would be.

The 27-year-old is signed for the next two seasons at a cap hit of $4.250 million and would be an absolute bargain playing next to John Tavares. Toronto, in the middle of a rebuild, is obviously looking to stay young and talented, something the Islanders happen to be long of, especially at forward.

Tags: Andy Graziano

 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

July 1 was not only the opening of the annual free agency period in the NHL, it was also a monumental day in the future of the New York Islanders franchise. After a 15-year run as majority owner, Charles Wang relinquished that title and dropped down to a 15 percent stake, giving up the remaining 85 percent to Scott Malkin and Jonathan Ledecky.

After GM Garth Snow went out and replaced the departed Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin with Andrew Ladd, P.A. Parenteau and Jason Chimera, the only thing Islanders fans have heard from new ownership is that they have full confidence in both Snow and head coach Jack Capuano as they move forward into the 2016-17 season. Well, they are about to hear a whole lot more.

Ledecky will be speaking this week for the first time since taking over, hopefully offering fans a glimpse into what the ownership style will be and how the direction of the franchise will be different.

On Thursday, Ledecky will be hosting a town hall for Islanders fans at 7 p.m. at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Season ticket holders were given first access to open seating in mailings that went out on July 6.

Wang, on the way to a minority stake, showed his clear love and passion for the team and pride he takes in keeping them in the metropolitan area, but made it quite clear Snow was working under a very strict internal financial cap for all but the final three years of his tenure. That made it incredibly difficult for the team to be as competitive as they wanted on the ice.

All in all, this should be a great opportunity for media and fans alike to get a glimpse into what the future could hold from the top down. Of course, consideration should be given to the fact I am sure there will be questions, either spoken or thought, that Ledecky will not be able to logically answer in such a forum.

Tags: Andy Graziano

Brian Compton and Mike Carver look back at the first week of free agency, including the departures of Okposo, Nielsen, and Martin, and the arrivals of Ladd, Chimera, and Parenteau.

Later, PA Parenteau calls in to the show to talk about reuniting with John Tavares, and which number he'll wear upon his return. 


 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Matt Barzal has turned a lot of heads since being drafted by the Islanders, and there are murmurs he could make the big club as soon as this season.

Islanders GM Garth Snow was recently asked about Barzal's status and if he could envision the 2015 first round draft pick filling the void left by the recently-departed Frans Nielsen.

"We wouldn't discount any player, especially talented young players we've been fortunate able to draft, to be able to crack our lineup,"Snow said on SiriusXM radio on Thursday. "That's why you have training camp and preseason games and make a determination at that points."

"For me to sit here on July 7 and make proclamations about what young player can make our team and play at the highest level just wouldn't be the right thing to do," Snow continued. "But we're confident in the group that we have, we're confident in our prospect pool, we're confident in the direction we're going in, and we're looking forward to training camp."

Barzal, 19, scored 27 goals and tallied 61 assists in 58 regular season games with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL. He sat out last month's prospect camp with a strained hip flexor.

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

Snow certainly didn't want to publicly commit to Barzal making the team, and that's very sound thinking. No need to put more pressure on him before he even sees time in a preseason game. But it seemed like something he's open to, and there's good reason for that.

Barzal displayed some incredible poise this season, showing he's probably the closest to taking the next step of the Isles' big forward prospects. And if you follow our own Brian Compton on Twitter, you know he's been saying Barzal has the best chance of the youngsters of cracking the roster this season.

In a similar situation to Michael Dal Colle's from last year, it's either the big club or back to Juniors for Barzal, as he won't be 20 years old yet, and therefore, not eligible to play in the AHL. But I think Barzal is a lot closer this summer than MDC was last year, making this upcoming training camp very intriguing to watch play out. 

Tags: Brian Erni

 (Kim Klement)
(Kim Klement)

Islanders GM Garth Snow knows how close Steven Stamkos got to becoming an unrestricted free agent this summer, and he's intent on making sure that doesn't happen with John Tavares.

Snow was asked on Thursday about Tavares' contract status and his strategy to retain their captain beyond the end of his contract in 2018, and Garth made it clear it's something he'll start working on as soon as the CBA permits next summer.

"Well, when we drafted John first overall, we knew we were getting a special person and a special player," Snow said on SiriusXM radio on Thursday. "We envision him wearing a New York Islanders jersey his entire career. He's got two years left on his contract. We'll reach out to him next summer and try to get an extension done. The conversations I have with John, those obviously those will remain private. But we know we have a special player, a franchise player, that loves playing for the Islanders, he loves living [on] Long Island, and being in the metropolitan area."

Tavares, 25, is a four-time All Star and a two-time Hart Trophy finalists. In 510 career games, he has scored 207 goals and tallied 264 assists.

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

Just this summer, Snow got to see firsthand what it's like when a premiere, franchise player almost gets to the open market. The Lightning were within days of watching Stamkos test the UFA waters, and Snow was one of the GMs ready to pounce if that happened. I think it's the understatement of the century to say Garth definitely doesn't want to be in that situation two years from now.

Last contract, Tavares took a very team-friendly deal to ensure the Islanders could build a winner, while showing his commitment to the organization. This time around, he'll definitely want to be paid like the top player he is, and the Islanders will almost certainly be willing to do so. There's a reason why so much money comes off the books after the 2017-18 season.

I just don't envision Tavares leaving this organization. I think he places a very high priority on being loyal, and I think he knows what kind of legacy he could write for himself if he wins right here in New York. This is one special player that I truly believe wants to be an Islander for life, and I think Snow will do everything he can to make that happen. It appears we'll start seeing just how far he's willing to go at this time next year.

Tags: John Tavares , Brian Erni

Apr 13, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Matt Carkner (7) skates with the puck during the second period against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports (Timothy T. Ludwig)
Apr 13, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Matt Carkner (7) skates with the puck during the second period against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports (Timothy T. Ludwig)

Matt Carkner is retiring at the age of 35, he announced on his Facebook page.

Carkner played 237 NHL games in his professional hockey career that began in 1997. He spent the last four seasons in the Islanders organization, the first two with the Islanders and the last two with minor league affiliate the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Carkner will remain in Bridgeport as an assistant coach.


Dec 12, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; A general view of the New York Islanders bench against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The Islanders won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports (Aaron Doster)
Dec 12, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; A general view of the New York Islanders bench against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The Islanders won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports (Aaron Doster)

Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter

Thursday morning, Arthur Staple of Newsday offered some clarity as to the Islanders offseason moves that saw them lose three long-time homegrown talents in Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin. General manager Garth Snow acted quickly and replaced the trio with Andrew Ladd, P.A. Parenteau and Jason Chimera.

Whether the Islanders are truly better off or not will not be known until the smoke clears on training camp and the team enters the 2016-17 season, which begins on October 13 at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers. There will be trade opportunities to review and roster spots up for grabs. With John Tavares, Nikolay Kulemin, Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss all participating in the World Cup of Hockey and thus missing Islanders camp, it will also serve Snow best to see how one player, in particular, makes it out of that tournament (Halak).

The comments on Grabovski and Kulemin are, as usual, on the money from Staple with regards to their uncertain futures with the team. Now that the Islanders have gone from a team struggling to reach the cap floor to trying to stay under the ceiling, those two particularly are troubling issues to sort out. Grabovski now presents health issues and Kulemin a high cap hit for his level of production.

On Nielsen, some, as expected, took his comments on the way to Detroit as another opportunity to slam Snow and head coach Jack Capuano. On the contrary, it couldn't be further from the truth that Nielsen wanted to get away from one or perhaps both. Staple clarifies his conversation with the Dane and its right in this line: "I wouldn't be the player I am today if it wasn't for them". He also added "And you can see they don't have any trouble bringing new guys in". Hopefully this finally ends this silliness in some mainstream outlets that Brooklyn is still an issue for players considering playing for the organization.

Regarding Hamonic, I can see where Staple is coming from in regards to moving him for Hall. The timing was off in terms of Snow looking for a defenseman to replace him and then Edmonton not willing to take anyone else that Snow likely offered. It is what it is and while New York lost out on a potential second franchise player to slot alongside captain Tavares, what they keep in Hamonic could be argued is equally important and effective.

Lastly, was the word that Ryan Pulock does have to be protected in next year's expansion draft for the new Las Vegas franchise. With each team guaranteed to lose one player, there are two different options for teams making up their protected list. One is to choose a 7/3/1 forward, defense, goaltender setup. The other is to select eight skaters (any positions) and a goaltender. With Nick Leddy, Johnny Boychuk and Hamonic projected to be Islanders protections at the position, that will leave Pulock, Calvin deHaan and Thomas Hickey exposed to selection.

You could safely assume that one could be shopped prior to the June 17, 2017 deadline. Las Vegas will make their selections on June 20, 2017.

Tags: Frans Nielsen , Andy Graziano

The Islanders' PA Parenteau celebrates after scoring on the Winnipeg Jets during the third period. (AP)
The Islanders' PA Parenteau celebrates after scoring on the Winnipeg Jets during the third period. (AP)

Now that P.A. Parenteau is back with the Islanders, there is a very important order to business to be settled for him--what number he's going to wear.

Parenteau played with the Islanders from 2010 until 2012 where he tallied 120 points in two seasons. In that time, he wore No. 15, which is currently worn by right winger Cal Clutterbuck.

Parenteau says he "doesn't think it's going to happen" that he'll be able to wear 15 again, so is deciding between 17 and 51.

Listen to the full Islanders Point Blank podcast below to hear more from Parenteau, as well as your hosts Brian Carver and Mike Compton on all the latest Isles news. Number talk begins at the 15:50 mark.

Tags: PA Parenteau

 (Jerome Miron)
(Jerome Miron)

Jason Chimera is pumped to be an Islander, and he thinks the fans have a lot to look forward to this fall, too.

Chimera has seen plenty of the Islanders as an opposing player, so when GM Garth Snow reached out with interest in signing him, he said it made joining the organization as easy decision.

"I know the coaches -- I know Doug Weight personally -- how in tune and how good they are. When you come into an organization you [want] know you're right at the cusp [of winning the Stanley Cup]. I didn't want to go somewhere we didn't have a chance to win," Chimera told the NHL's SiriusXM morning show. "It was a no-brainer. It's exciting. They have a lot of good players, a lot of young talent ready to break out, so it's going to be a lot of fun."

Chimera, 37, scored 20 goals in Washington last season, and he believes that adding himself, Andrew Ladd, and P.A. Parenteau to the fold will more than make up for what New York lost in free agency.

"I know Islanders fans will probably be upset losing a couple of key players in Okposo and Nielsen, but adding Ladd, P.A. Parenteau and me, three 20-goal scorers for two 20-goal scorers isn't a bad trade," he said. "You know what kind of player Ladd is, he's won a couple of Cups. When you add those pieces, it's a grittiness to your lineup. He can play north-south, he can score, he's a good leader."

H/t to Lighthouse Hockey for the transcript.

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

Chimera was beloved in Washington, and from this interview, it's easy to see why. He took time to praise individual players as well as the coaching staff, and it's clear he'll be a very integral part of the Isles' effort to rebuild their locker room dynamic with more experienced voices.

It doesn't necessarily mean the Chimera move will pan out. Any time you commit to a player in his late 30s, especially a forward, there's an inherent risk that you assume. But Chimera is the kind of player who can bring something to the table even if he regresses from his 20-goal performance in 15-16.

I wouldn't be surprised if head coach Jack Capuano uses him in a number of ways, from the fourth line all the way up to the power play and all destinations in between. It may be a gamble, but it's one that could pay off big if Chimera has a lot left in the tank.

Tags: Brian Erni

Dec 12, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; A general view of the New York Islanders bench against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The Islanders won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports (Aaron Doster)
Dec 12, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; A general view of the New York Islanders bench against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The Islanders won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports (Aaron Doster)

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

There was a lot to digest over the weekend in Islanders country, as the Isles brought in both some new and familiar faces into the fold, while saying goodbye to three key pieces of the rebuild. But it appears that there's a sentiment inside the Eastern Conference that isn't that impressed with how Garth Snow opened up free agency.
 
ESPN's Joe McDonald penned this piece that acts more like a recap of the last five days than anything else, as well as providing us the oh-so-common John Tavares UFA scare tactics. But he saves his most intriguing tidbits for this passage that features quotes from two separate Eastern Conference executives:

"Still, not everyone is optimistic about the direction of the team. One Eastern Conference GM said in a text message. 'he wasn't a big fan' of the moves. 'Ladd 7 yrs is crazy. Lost better players to UFA. ' Another Eastern Conference executive wasn't sure the Islanders were closer to contention. 'Tough call,' he wrote in a text. 'Typically a conference finals berth signifies true contention.'"

Now, that's all fair criticism of what the Islanders did, some of which I've even echoes in previous posts. But let's take moment to rein it in a bit. 
 
First, it's July 6. The offseason is still in its infancy, and a trade (or multiple trades) could have a giant impact on how we ultimately end up viewing the Isles' offseason. As far as financial flexibility goes, Andrew Ladd's seven-year contract is loaded in signing bonus. His salary is just $1 million per season, the rest of the deal paid out upfront. That makes this deal a major short-term investment, but absolutely nothing that is going to hinder the Isles in the future. 
 
Plus, as I touched on Friday, the Isles are setting themselves up to gain a ton of cap space, as they'll clear over $20 million in salary the summer John Tavares' current contract comes due. If Tavares, a fiercely-loyal person, re-ups and makes Brooklyn his permanent home (which is what my money would be on), the Isles will have plenty of money to throw at the next wave of free agents.
 
And as far as being viable contenders, that's really in how you value Ladd and Jason Chimera, and to a lesser extent, P.A. Parenteau. How do we know that Ladd and Chimera don't give the Isles an x-factor? Like most who embrace analytics, I don't overvalue intangibles, because they're hard to quantify. But because these are human beings that play the game and not cyborgs, the human element does plays a part. In the analytics world, it's very simply the x-factor. The reason why writers and fans alike talk about team chemistry is because there's just no way to anticipate how to build it, but we know it when we see it. It's as elusive as it is identifiable. That's what makes it so fascinating and alluring.
 
So, this team that lost two overtime games on their home ice in the second round or else they easily could have achieved that Conference Final watermark for true contention, basically replaced the offense they lost (and then some), probably lost a step defensively, but gained a boatload of veteran leadership. Are they better than last year? I don't know yet. Is there any cause for panic? Not from where I'm sitting, especially when there are two months before training camp opens.
 
The Isles know what is at stake these next few years. They are aware they have one of the most talented players in the game inching toward potential UFA status, and they want to do everything they can to capitalize in this window. So while it's fun to automatically jump to hysterics, it will be a while before we truly know if this offseason made the Islanders real contenders, or shifted them back into the heard of pretenders.

Tags: Brian Erni

New York Islanders goalie Jean-Francois Berube (30) before the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Barclays Center. (Anthony Gruppuso)
New York Islanders goalie Jean-Francois Berube (30) before the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Barclays Center. (Anthony Gruppuso)

The New York Islanders have agreed to a one-year contract with G Jean-Francois Berube, the team announced on Tuesday

Berube made his NHL debut with the Islanders last season and went 3-2-1 with a 2.71 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in seven games. Berube joined the Islanders after the team claimed him off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings in early October. 

Berube led the American Hockey League with 37 wins in the 2014-15 season, and helped the Manchester Monarchs to a Calder Cup Championship. The 24-year old was 37-9-4 with a 2.18 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage during the regular season. 


Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

So now that Berube has a new deal, we wait in anticipation of what Garth will do with Thomas Greiss and Jaro Halak. Of course, Halak is more expensive, and it makes the most sense that he'd be the one to be moved. But the goalie market just isn't what it was last summer, and no team is really desperate enough to overpay right now. 

That could change though, and it might benefit Snow to go into camp with all three on the roster and see if a team sustains an injury at the position. Then he may be able to hold someone up for a king's ransom. Until that point, though, there are no easy answers.

In Berube, the Isles think they could have a goalie of the future. He impressed in the waning days of the regular season (four games, .921 Save Percentage), and is still just 24 years old. But they also love 20-year old Russian prospect Ilya Sorokin, who was a surprise on Long Island for the prospect camp last week, and turned in a dominant showing. So with Berube's new one-year deal, it gives the Isles a year to let everything play out and see exactly where the chips fall.


Brian Compton and Mike Carver dive head first into the start of free agency, as they discuss the Isles' interest left wing Andrew Ladd.

Plus, the guys discuss the Taylor Hall-Adam Larsson trade, and explain why Garth Snow made the right decision not dealing Travis Hamonic

Tags: Travis Hamonic

Toronto Maple Leafs right wing P.A. Parenteau (15) celebrates his goal during the first period of their game against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center. (Ed Mulholland)
Toronto Maple Leafs right wing P.A. Parenteau (15) celebrates his goal during the first period of their game against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center. (Ed Mulholland)

The Islanders have come to an agreement to bring in winger P.A. Parenteau, the team announced Saturday afternoon. 

The one-year deal is worth $1.25 million, according to Newsday's Arthur Staple. 

Parenteau, 33, played with the Maple Leafs last season, tallying 20 goals, 21 assists and 68 penalty minutes in 77 games. 

He previously played with the Islanders for two seasons between from 2010 to 2012. Playing largely with John Tavares, Parenteau during the 2011-12 season, Parenteau recorded a career-high in points (67) and assists (49). 

For his career he has 101 goals and 167 assists in 424 games. 

Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter

There is so much to like about this low-risk, high-reward signing today by general manager Garth Snow.

Rumored to be in the Islanders sights at the trade deadline, Snow instead held onto his assets and waited for the free agency market to open, snagging for 33-year-old on a one-year deal with an AAV of $1.25 million.

We all should remember the chemistry Parenteau showed with Tavares in his first stint with the Islanders, from 2010-2012, scoring 38 goals and adding 82 assists in 161 games with 39 of those points coming on the power play. After putting up 43 points in 48 games for Colorado in 2012-13 after he left New York as a free agent and 33 in 55 the following season, a failed stint in Montreal followed.

This past year, he collected a very respectable 20 goals and 21 assists in 77 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are now rebuilding.

This transaction smells of a Garth Snow special, like the Michael Grabner and Thomas Hickey moves before them, and before Grabner developed the 'Knoblauch syndrome' when it came to finishing scoring chances. We all know how well Hickey has worked out.

I have a feeling Snow will strike gold once again as a possible first line of Tavares-Andrew Ladd-Parenteau should make Islanders fans very happy when the puck drops in October.

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