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2017 NHL Mock Expansion Draft

By Brett Malamud

The stars will be bright in Las Vegas tonight as the NHL Awards commence. The show will also be significant due to the unveiling of the roster for the league’s newest franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights. Here are my picks for the 31st NHL team.

 

Anaheim Ducks: Clayton Stoner, 24, D

Right off the bat, we start out with a tough selection. It was long rumored that the Ducks may make Jakob Silfverberg available if they chose to protect a fourth defenseman, but that didn’t happen, and Ducks GM Bob Murray opted for the 7-3-1 protection format. Defenseman Sami Vatanen could be one of those candidates to get selected and then flipped to another team. We know that there is a deal in place with Anaheim though, which should take Vatanen out of play. So I’m going to believe that the Ducks will allow Vegas to take Stoner.

 

Arizona Coyotes: Peter Holland, 26, C

While the options aren’t that attractive in the desert, Vegas must take a player from all 30 teams, and Peter Holland is a good depth pick. They could also take the 36-year-old winger Radim Vrbata on a one year deal and try to flip him to a contender later in the year.

 

Boston Bruins: Malcolm Subban, 23, G

If a team like say, the Philadelphia Flyers, wants Vegas to select goaltender Malcolm Subban for them and make a trade, that’s an option. Of course, that’s if Vegas doesn’t want Subban for themselves. I see this as an opportunity for McPhee to select his goalie of the future. Surely Marc-Andre Fleury won’t be there forever (assuming he picks him). I’d also keep an eye on Colin Miller, who I’d consider an extremely underrated talent. An offensive defenseman, Miller has a wicked shot and while his defending could use some more work, he could see himself on the powerplay regularly.

 

Buffalo Sabres: William Carrier, 22, LW

The former second round pick should be the pick here, after moving to the Sabres in the Ryan Miller trade. Being only 22, he’ll get some time to develop in the minors before making the jump up to the NHL full-time.

 

Calgary Flames: Alex Chiasson, 25, RW 

Chiasson is a player who I’ve had my eyes on for the last couple of years. The 6-3 winger also is a restricted free agent, but should be pretty easy to lock down to a deal. Vegas could opt to take defenseman Brett Kulak here instead, but with a ton of defense out there, I’ll opt for Chiasson.

 

Carolina Hurricanes: Lee Stempniak, 34, RW

Not too much talent here. Hurricanes GM Ron Francis did a good job protecting the right guys, and Vegas will probably take Stempniak as the best available player from Carolina.

 

Chicago Blackhawks: Marcus Kruger, 27, C

There is a rumored side deal with the Blackhawks that’ll see them ship Kruger along with defenseman Trevor Van Riemsdyk to Vegas. I believe those rumors to be true, as the Blackhawks are currently the only NHL team over the salary cap and look to free themselves from some larger contracts.

 

Colorado Avalanche: Mikhail Grigorenko, 23, C

Grigorenko is a restricted free agent, so he’d have to agree to a contract, but he’s only 23 years old and has a lot of upside. The popular pick here has been goaltender Calvin Pickard. Pickard played very well in the IIHF World Championships, but based on how I am building this team, Pickard would see himself in the minors, and wouldn’t be a good pick here.

 

Columbus Blue Jackets: William Karlsson, 24, C

The following comes from the Columbus Dispatch: “…the Blue Jackets will pay dearly to dissuade the Golden Knights from taking [Josh] Anderson, [Joonas] Korpisalo or one of the veteran defensemen — Jack Johnson or David Savard — that they would have exposed. The Jackets are believed to be trading this year’s first-round draft pick (No. 24 overall) and a prospect (not Pierre-Luc Dubois or Sonny Milano) to Vegas for assurances that the Golden Knights will select either left wing Matt Calvert, center William Karlsson or defenseman Ryan Murray.”

With that said, I’ll take the former second round pick William Karlsson.

 

Dallas Stars: Cody Eakin, 26, C

For me, Dallas was one of the final picks that I made, and so I’m going on the best player available here, and that’s Eakin for me.

 

Detroit Red Wings: Petr Mrazek, 25, G

I will admit, I was more surprised about this non protected player more than any other in the expansion draft. But Detroit had to make a decision, and they picked the 33-year-old Jimmy Howard over 25-year-old Petr Mrazek in goal. The problem for me with this was that had they left Howard unprotected, Vegas almost definitely wouldn’t have taken him. But with Mrazek there instead, it’s definitey intriguing and there’s going to be some debate in Las Vegas on who they should select. McPhee will have some other strong options in net, with Washington’s Philipp Grubauer, Colorado’s Calvin Pickard and New York’s Antti Raanta all available, as well as Boston’s Malcom Subban for the taking. Vegas won’t load up on goalies unless they have deals in place to flip players to other teams. So while I’d like to see Mrazek be the selection, don’t be shocked if they play it safe and select center Riley Sheahan.

 

Edmonton Oilers: Griffin Reinhart, 23, D

What’s interesting about this pick is the common assumption that McPhee worked with Reinhart, who is an RFA this summer, during his time in New York. Yes, McPhee was a part of the Islanders organization from September 2015 through July 2016 before being hired by Golden Knights owner Bill Foley to run the Vegas franchise. But Reinhart was actually traded in June 2015 during the NHL Draft. But don’t think that he doesn’t know about the young prospect. Yes, Reinhart failed to crack the Isles top six before being shipped off to Edmonton. And yeah, he’s had a minimal impact in Edmonton. I’d take one last shot on him if I were Vegas.

 

Florida Panthers: Jonathan Marchessault, 26, C

The Panthers left Marchessault unprotected just after he scored 30 goals this season. Vegas should also like the fact that he is making less than $1 million for the upcoming year, and is just 26 years old.

 

Los Angeles Kings: Brayden McNabb, 26, D

At 6-5, McNabb would be a good pick for Vegas and at just 26 years old, I could see him as a player they’d like to keep on their blue line for years to come.

 

Minnesota Wild: Eric Staal, 32, C

While many were quick to put defensemen Matt Dumba in this spot, there must be some debate over this pick with the Vegas brass.  Dumba is a good prospect, and am attractive option. But I see this expansion draft deeper on defense than scoring forwards, and so Staal makes sense. Staal was Minnesota’s top goal scorer this season and could find himself as Vegas’ first team captain, after serving the role in Carolina. It’s widely thought that Minnesota will have a trade in place to have Vegas lay off Dumba/Scandella/Staal and take a player such as Erik Haula. But I honestly think that taking a player such as Staal or Dumba would be more valuable than a draft pick (remember, the Wild traded their first round pick for this season. However they do have picks for the coming years, so keep an eye on that) to take Haula. With that said, I’m taking Staal here as the more marketable asset, and if he is picked, Vegas fans will find themselves sporting his jersey on opening night.

(UPDATE: There are reports out there that Haula will sign a multi year deal with Vegas, so expect that to be the pick tonight)

 

Montreal Canadiens: Brandon Davidson, 25, D

If the Knights can agree to a deal with UFA Alex Radulov, then they should take the chance on him as he’ll provide an impact, and will take on some salary. Of course, that could come on July 1, and not picking him here could allow Vegas to take two players from the Habs. I believe that their selection here will be Davidson, who represents the youngest Montreal defenseman under contract through next season.

 

Nashville Predators: James Neal, 29, LW

If George McPhee has a deal in place with the defending western conference champions, it probably take Neal off the table, and I see Colton Scissons as a possible second choice. But I believe that Vegas sees Neal as a potential threat on their first line. After all, this is a team who have repeatedly said that they want to be good right away, while stocking up for the future at the same time. Neal would fit into that equation, even with his $5 million cap hit.

 

New Jersey Devils: Jon Merrill, 25, D

Another young defenseman for Vegas with Merrill being picked here. The Devils don’t want to lose a guy like Merrill, but it doesn’t seem likely that a side deal will be made.

 

New York Islanders: Casey Cizikas, 26, C

Newsday’s Arthur Staple reported Monday evening that the Islanders have a deal in place with Vegas to send a first round pick and Mikhail Grabovski ($5 million cap hit) to the Golden Knights, in exchange for selecting a designated player chosen by the Isles. I believe that the player is Casey CIzikas, who holds a $3.35 million cap hit. In a move that would free up $8.35 million, the Islanders would create the cap space necessary to go after coveted trade assets such as Matt Duchene, Jordan Eberle, and Alex Galchenyuk. They could always opt to give Vegas defenseman Thomas Hickey ($2.2 million cap hit), but if the Islanders trade defensemen Calvin De Haan, Ryan Pulock, or Travis Hamonic in a trade for a top six forward (or possibly two trades), I’d bet the Islanders would want Hickey at least on their roster. I’m going to stick with my gut and go with Cizikas.

 

New York Rangers: Michael Grabner, 29, RW

Coming off of a career year, Grabner could give the Golden Knights some help up front. This pick could end up being goaltender Antti Raanta, who has proven that he could be a number one goaltender in the NHL. I expect him to factor into the goaltender conversation for the Golden Knights if they pick him instead, or if he’s not flipped to another team first. I’ll take Grabner here though, based on the goalies I’ve already selected.

 

Ottawa Senators: Marc Methot, 31, D

According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, Ottawa could not get a deal done before George McPhee’s self imposed midnight trade deadline on Monday. Therefore, I believe that McPhee is taking Methot. Of course, there is interest in Methot, but one of the important statements from McPhee came Monday morning when discussing flipping a player to another team, where he said that if they like the player, they’re keeping him for themselves. I believe that Methot may have been one of those players that he was talking about.

 

Philadelphia Flyers: Jordan Weal, 25, C

Weak would be a good addition as Vegas seeks more young forwards. Wouldn’t be surprised if Michael Raffl is the pick here either.

 

Pittsburgh Penguins: Marc-Andre Fleury, 32, G

Fleury is the slam dunk, home run pick for Las Vegas, and is sure to be their starting goaltender come opening night, and the first face of the franchise. It also looks that they’d be getting something from Pittsburgh to take Fleury, so not much to debate here.

Fleury

Three time Stanley Cup Champion Marc-Andre Fleury appears to be Vegas Bound. (Via PPG)

 

San Jose Sharks: Brendan Dillon, 26, D

Dillon would be a good pick in this spot, being just 26, and carrying a manageable 3.27 million cap hit.

 

St. Louis Blues: David Perron, 29, RW

I see this as a deadline deal for Vegas, with them flipping Perron for more picks. He could get flipped right away though.

 

Tampa Bay Lightning: Jason Garrison, 32, D

GM Steve Yzerman is looking for a way to hold on to young defensemen Slater Koekkoek and Jake Dotchin. Therefore I am projecting a side deal here with Garrison being the pick for Vegas.

 

Toronto Maple Leafs: Kerby Rychel, 22, LW

Rychel is a good pick for Vegas here because of the upside he has. He could factor as a possible trade chip in the future if it doesn’t work out in Sin City.

 

Vancouver Canucks: Reid Boucher, 23, LW

Boucher flipped around the league this season with New Jersey, Nashville, and Vancouver earlier this season after being claimed on waivers. He has a lot of upside, and so this pick will be more about potential than anything.

 

Washington Capitals: Nate Schmidt, 25, D

McPhee could take Philipp Grubauer. McPhee could take Jay Beagle or Brett Connolly. He could even take Kevin Shattenkirk if he can get him to agree to a contract during the exclusive negotiations window. But I have the Capitals going in a different direction and selecting Nate Schmidt, who is one of the best young defensemen available to the Golden Knights. The situation in Washington is interesting because Schmidt got pushed out of the lineup when the Caps traded for Shattenkirk. But Schmidt reminds me of another quick skating defenseman that came up through the system, and made the team. That was John Carlson, and if I’m George McPhee, I’d want that on my team’s blue line.

 

Winnipeg Jets: Toby Enstrom, 32, D

I believe that Toby Enstrom is a candidate for the pick-and-flip for Vegas. With so many teams looking to get a top four defenseman, Vegas could hold the cards, and look to flip him for picks, or for a player that was protected for the expansion draft.

 

 

With this team that I’ve selected, there are sure to be some trades in place before July 1, as the team with this roster will have to sign some of these players to RFA deals while staying away from the cap. McPhee has said that he sees his team in the fifties when discussing team salary. It should be interesting to see what he has up his sleeve.


Brett Malamud is a graduate of Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

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2016 NHL Trade Deadline Reaction

By Brett Malamud

Trade deadline day came and went, and there wasn’t too much going on. Let’s take a look at what happened in the days leading up to the deadline:

Winnipeg Jets trade Andrew Ladd, Matt Fraser and Jay Harrison to Chicago Blackhawks for Marko Dano, 2016 1st-round pick and conditional pick in 2018 Draft

Reaction: The Ladd-Chicago reunion will bring cup memories back to fans, and should be a good acquisition, but at what price? This is an example of just one of the numerous over the top asks for rental players. Chicago overpaid but if that means a Stanley Cup, it won’t matter to them

Carolina Hurricanes trade F Eric Staal to New York Rangers in exchange for F Aleksi Saarela, 2016 2nd-round pick, 2017 2nd-round pick

Reaction: I thought that Carolina would receive more for Staal. Seems that the Rangers got away with one here, and have a depth forward to help them towards a playoff run.

EricStaalRangers.jpg

Eric Staal should help the Blueshirts down the stretch (Via Rangers)

Washington Capitals trade F Brooks Laich, D Connor Carrick, 2016 2nd-round pick to Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for F Daniel Winnik, 2016 5th-round pick (previously acquired from Anaheim)

Reaction: One can’t help but feel bad for Brooks Laich. The longest-tenured player on the Capitals, and finally as they’re poised to make a deep playoff run, they deal him. Winnik isn’t a huge get for Washington, but he can’t hurt their chances.

Arizona Coyotes trade F Mikkel Boedker to Colorado Avalanche for F Alex Tanguay and prospects F Conner Bleackley and D Kyle Wood.

Reaction: Both clubs walk away making a good deal. Boedker will help by putting the puck in the net, and the ‘Yotes get two prospects with potential.

The New Jersey Devils trade D Eric Gelinas to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a 3rd-round pick in 2017.

Reaction: There was no room for him in NJ, so Gelinas is dealt. Will get an opportunity out West. Good return for him

Calgary Flames trade D Kris Russell to the Dallas Stars in exchange for D Jyrki Jokkipakka, F Brett Pollock and a conditional 2nd-round pick in 2016.

Reaction: The Stars overpaid. Period. Yes, they get a shot blocker, but he’s a rental. The Flames on the other hand will be rooting for the Stars in the playoffs, as if the Stars reach the conference finals, the pick becomes a first rounder. They also get Jyrki Jokkipakka, who has become a household name, at least in my household (yes, really). A good deal for the Flames here. 

The Carolina Hurricanes trade D John-Michael Liles to the Boston Bruins in exchange for a 3rd- round pick in 2016, a 5th-round pick in 2017 and F Anthony Camara.

Reaction: The Bruins will like having blue-line depth by adding JML.

The Buffalo Sabres trade F Jamie McGinn to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a conditional 3rd-round pick in 2016.

Reaction: I like this deal for the Ducks. They needed a good winger, and they got one in McGinn.

Florida Panthers trade F Brandon Pirri to the Anaheim Ducks for a sixth-round pick in 2016.

Reaction: How did the Ducks get away with this? A sixth rounder? Really? The Panthers could have gotten more for Pirri. 

The New Jersey Devils shipped F Lee Stempniak to the Boston Bruins in exchange for a second-round pick in 2017 and a fourth-round pick in 2016.

Reaction: The Bruins get another good player in Stempniak. Will be a good addition with Boston. As for the Devils, I was a bit surprised that they dealt him, but in a tough Metropolitan Division, it’s understandable why they did.

 

The Montreal Canadiens trade winger Devante Smith-Pelly to the New Jersey Devils for winger Stefan Matteau.

Reaction: Two young players get swapped. Here’s hoping it works out this time for them.

Ottawa Senators trade F Shane Prince and 2016 7th-round pick to New York Islanders for 2016 3rd-round pick

Reaction: see https://dabuzzza.com/2016/03/01/the-curious-case-of-garth-snow-and-the-fresh-prince/ 

The Calgary Flames trade forward David Jones to the Minnesota Wild for goaltender Niklas Backstrom and a sixth-round draft pick.

Reaction: Won’t really help either team. Each player’s career is basically done.


Brett Malamud is an English Rhetoric Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

 

The Curious Case of Garth Snow And The Fresh Prince

By Brett Malamud

Fans of the New York Islanders were anticipating a big trade deadline day for their club on Monday. The team sits in third place in the Metropolitan Division, now seven points behind the rival New York Rangers, with three games in hand. All along, Islanders general manager Garth Snow remained adamant in keeping his team’s first round picks, as well as his top four prospects — forwards Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier, Michael Dal Colle and Joshua Ho-Sang — in any deal for a potential unrestricted free agent forward. Snow’s goal was to add a depth forward without giving up any major piece. When the day was all said and done, the Islanders finished a quiet trade deadline day by making just one NHL deal, acquiring prospect forward Shane Prince and a 2016 seventh round pick in exchange for a 2016 third round pick.

 

The Good

Shane Prince for me is a familiar face. As a Binghamton University student, I have had the opportunity to watch Prince many times with the Binghamton Senators. The 23-year-old is extremely quick and has great hands. He reminds me of a young Kyle Okposo, who was projected to be a second liner, and that is where Prince is projected to wind up as well (Okposo ended up a first liner, and Prince could end up one too if his development pans out). Prince is also a versatile forward who can play both at the center and wing positions, which should help the Islanders going forward. It’s also being reported out of Ottawa that the Senators were actually seeking a second round pick for Prince, and settled for the Islanders third round pick (the Islanders actually do not have a second round pick in 2016, as it was traded in the deal for Johnny Boychuk at the start of last season).

ShanePrince.gif

Shane Prince has some quick moves, and Islanders fans will come to admire them.

Over the last week, the Islanders were linked to numerous names on the trade market, such as Andrew Ladd and former Islander P.A. Parenteau. The Islanders certainly spoke to the Winnipeg Jets at some point this season about Ladd while shopping defenseman Travis Hamonic, after he requested a trade to a team located near his home in Western Canada. However, the asking price was far too high for Snow’s liking. So rumors swirled all week of a Parenteau-Isles reunion. It was later found out that Toronto was seeking a second round pick, a price that Snow wasn’t going to pay. According to Newsday’s Arthur Staple, Snow didn’t even have Parenteau on his radar, leading to speculation that Toronto started the rumor to attempt to start a bidding war. By the 3 p.m. deadline, a Parenteau deal was not made, and the high asking price was certainly the reason why any deal including him didn’t come to fruition. All in all, the Snow stuck to his guns and kept his key pieces on the roster, which is certainly a win for New York.

 

The Bad

Many had high expectations for the Islanders this trade deadline to upgrade in a big way. I’d agree that the Isles are one major piece away from being a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. They failed to acquire that big piece, and the fans are certainly letting the team hear it on social media. As for the rookie acquisition, Prince has just three goals and 12 points in 42 games this season for the Senators. He hasn’t been able to get it together this season, even though he was so dominant in the minor leagues (he had 28 goals and 65 points in 72 games for Binghamton in 2014-15). He also couldn’t progress up Ottawa’s lineup, remaining stuck on the team’s fourth line.

Of course this raises the question: “Where does Shane Prince even fit in to the Islanders roster?”

I believe that Prince could see time on the second and third lines, with Mikhail Grabovski still out till the weekend. Prince may see time on the second line with Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo, or with third-liners Brock Nelson and Anders Lee. He should not be on the team’s fourth line, as the phenomenal chemistry between Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin isn’t worth tinkering with.

shane-prince-1797776632

Shane Prince had 28 goals and 65 points in 72 games for the Binghamton Senators (AHL) in 2014-15. (Via Getty)

 

Bottom Line

Not to bail out Garth Snow, but trades are a two-way street, and the other team does have to accept the deal as well. Many people forget that. In fact, with high asking prices, it’s tough for teams to decide to settle and accept deals for below a player’s value (ex. Drouin, Yakupov, and Eriksson staying put), especially in a high-pressure situation such as a trade deadline day. We may never hear what deals were in the works for Garth Snow on Monday afternoon, but I can assure you that although he only made one NHL deal on deadline day, Snow wasn’t twiddling his thumbs all day. Some deals just don’t work out.

No, this deal doesn’t make the Islanders an elite team. We know that. They got a young prospect who will make an impact as a depth forward. No, I do not believe that the Isles are a cup contender this year either, but they should be able to get past the first round. Kyle Okposo is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year, and while reports say that he’s destined to leave the Islanders, never say never.

The same reports came out last season about defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy, before they were signed to long-term extensions. Garth Snow keeps his organization tight lipped, so who really knows what Snow is going to do? The team will also have to re-sign pending UFAs Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin. It’s probably more likely that the team re-signs Nielsen and Martin rather than Okposo, but again, anything is possible.

With rising prospects Barzal, Beauvillier, Dal Colle and Ho-Sang, the Islanders find themselves with a bright future. In fact, Dal Colle and Barzal may be on the team come September, and Ho-Sang may start the season in Bridgeport.

If they were to deal any of their current players for an impact player such as Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, or Max Pacioretty (Again, just examples of the kind of player that may be available), the Islanders would become a contender. The Oilers seem like a likely candidate in that department, knowing that a Travis Hamonic trade to a Western Canadian team may involve Edmonton. The Islanders would obviously inquire about Hall but Eberle has been linked to them as well. If Edmonton came to the Islanders on draft day and offered Taylor Hall for the Islanders’ 2016 first round pick, Anders Lee, and Travis Hamonic, would you do it if you were Garth Snow? Now Edmonton fans, before you freak out, realize that GM Peter Chiarelli’s ship can’t sink any deeper. The Oilers would get their defenseman in Hamonic, a young forward in Lee, and another first round pick, plus free up $6 million a year for four years in Hall’s contract. That’s a lot to spark a quick turn around. From the Islanders’ perspective, imagine paying for Hall in the place of Okposo, letting him walk, and freeing up room for Ryan Pulock and Dal Colle/Barzal. It’d be a different team than the one out on the ice now. This may not just be a trade for EA Sports, but also for the Islanders and Oilers to examine.

But that’s talk for the draft, which is still 114 days away. For now, the Islanders acquired a potential top-six forward in Prince, and didn’t have to give up much to get him. They also didn’t break the bank for a pending UFA. Yes, Prince is having an off year, which drove his price down, but again, he’s very talented. If he comes around, he’ll be a great addition to this Islanders team who needs to shoot the puck more. I won’t call this trade a “steal” but rather a very good trade.


Brett Malamud is an English Rhetoric Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

Islanders Postseason Poll: Keep ‘Em Or Can ‘Em

By Brett Malamud

Yes, we are just 24 hours since the Islanders ended their season. But, by popular demand, let’s take a look at our (very early) edition of Keep ‘Em Or Can ‘Em. Feel free to vote on each poll, as it’ll allow other fans to see what you think.

Offense

John Tavares is the key piece. Not going anywhere. KEEP HIM Kyle Okposo is riding shotgun to JT. Not going anywhere either. KEEP HIM Josh Bailey has come to be on the first line. I’d like to see the Islanders snag a first line winger, dropping Bailey to control the second line. KEEP HIM
Brock Nelson scored 20 goals this season and should get a nice deal this summer as an RFA. KEEP HIM Frans Nielsen heads into the final year of his contract. He’s 31 years old and for less than $3 million a year he’s a no brainer. KEEP HIM Ryan Strome had a fantastic season, finishing with 50 points, third on the team behind Tavares and Okposo. He’s staying. KEEP HIM
Nikolay Kulemin is better than many thought he would be. He played all 82 games and is on the roster though 2018-19. KEEP HIM Mikhail Grabovski had his injuries, and that hurt his stock. He’s staying though, also signed through 2018-19. KEEP HIM Colin McDonald  is at the end of the line. The last guy into the lineup night in and night out. If you can get him real cheap, do it. Otherwise, don’t. CAN HIM
Anders Lee is going to get a nice contract as an RFA. If you’re the Isles, you have to retain him. KEEP HIM Michael Grabner is the odd man out for the Isles. Can’t see him staying. CAN HIM Cal Clutterbuck has been all that the isles had hoped for: a gritty power forward. He’s signed for two more seasons. KEEP HIM
Tyler Kennedy was a good add at the trade deadline. Keep him only if you can get him for a low price tag. KEEP HIM Matt Martin is the enforcer. He’s staying. KEEP HIM Casey Cizikas is another gritty young defenseman, and has one year left on his deal. KEEP HIM
Eric Boulton is 38 and a UFA. I don’t see him coming back. CAN HIM

Defense/Goalie

Johnny Boychuk is the future. Without him, the defense is nothing. KEEP HIM The same could be said for Nick Leddy He’s staying too. KEEP HIM Calvin De Haan Has been good, but not great. I’d keep him for now, but he’s a good trade chip if need be. KEEP HIM
Travis Hamonic is locked up through 2020-21. Not much debate here. KEEP HIM Thomas Hickey is a restricted free agent. I’d wait on him to see the price, but am not impressed by his -12 stat line. CAN HIM Lubomir Visnovsky is 38 years old and is an unrestricted free agent. Let him go and bring the kids up from Bridgeport. CAN HIM
Brian Strait is still signed for another year, but he didn’t have a good season. I’ll give him credit for stepping up during the playoffs a bit, but his roster spot can be better used on someone else. CAN HIM Jaroslav Halak is the goalie that the Isles needed. No debate here. KEEP HIM Michal Neuvirth was a good acquisition at the trade deadline. If they can sign him this Summer as a UFA, they’ll solve the goalie situation. KEEP HIM

Coaches/Management

Jack Capuano gets the boot from me. This team needs a veteran coach to lead them to the promised land. CAN HIM Doug Weight led the power play group that went 0-for-14 in the first round of the playoffs. If Capuano is gone, so is Weight. CAN HIM Garth Snow turned heads when he acquired the two headed monster that is Boychuk/Leddy. Although the majority of people say he needs to leave, I’m going to keep him based on the last 365 days. KEEP HIM

**It’d be unfair to judge the likes of Mayfield and Reinhart since we saw such little time

Finally, I’d like to know everyone’s opinion on Barclays Center. How have your plans changed?


Brett Malamud is an English Rhetoric Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

There is a Bright Side: Reflections of a Frustrated Islanders Fan

By Brett Malamud

Now is the time where I step back from the media side of things, and write this as a fan talking to other Islanders fans.

Tonight we watched as the Islanders season came to an end. You can point at power play numbers, goalie mistakes, low offense, defensive turnovers. It doesn’t matter anymore. The season is over. Move on. There is a bright side, and another day. I will say that at the end of this season, the future is now. Now is the time. Nobody expected 101 points out of this team. Nobody. Look forward to the playoffs in the coming years. These kids are going to flourish. Tavares, Okposo, Strome, Lee, Cizikas, Martin, Nelson. Leddy, Hamonic, Donovan, Mayfield, Reinhart, Pulock. A couple tweaks in the offseason and they’ll be ready. This season, everyone compared the Isles to the cup teams of the 80’s and we’ll see that continue as the years go on. The magic that happened this season is irreplaceable. The Coliseum’s time has come to an end, but the Isles have not. They’ve only just begun.

As for Nassau Coliseum, there’s only one way that it could’ve properly gone out, and it didn’t go that way. That would’ve been with a cup over John Tavares’ head. But the way it did go out on Sunday does represent everything that the Coliseum had: Noise, Grit, Determination. It was only fitting for the Barn to go out on a win. It’ll be sad to see the Coliseum go, and even though we don’t know if the team will ever return, I’ll always take away that one moment. Just like everyone else. For me, it’s the Sean Bates penalty shot in the 2002 playoffs. I was eight years old, and my family had season tickets at the time. I went to the game with my mom, and our best friends Doug and Jared Bursky. I have never heard a louder Nassau Coliseum than in that moment. Even still, I get goosebumps every single time I see that highlight. Every single time. Nothing will change that.

NVMC

As for the Capitals, I look back tonight on that same kid 13 years ago. A frustrated, crying, eight-year-old Islander fan watching the Maple Leafs win game seven and advance. I can’t help but remember losing that series at a time like now, in such a physical series. Washington won the series and that’s all that matters. Now as an Islander fan, I can only say one thing to the Capitals…

Go out and finish the job. Bury the Rangers.


Brett Malamud is an English Rhetoric Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

Isles Making Lasting Memories for Fans in the Playoffs

By Brett Malamud

Silence. That can be heard early Monday afternoon in the little barn in Uniondale. But turn back the clock a mere 24 hours, and you have arguably the loudest atmosphere that any team will experience in the playoffs this season. The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum will be closing its doors at the end of the year, and New York Islanders fans are giving the building the ultimate send off.

Fans were challenged on Saturday afternoon, as the Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin gave his expectations for Sunday’s game three matchup.

Ovechkin was greeted with chants of “CAN YOU HEAR US?” The chant echoed throughout game three. From the opening faceoff, fans gave the Capitals the ultimate distraction, and fueled the adrenaline of the hometown Islanders. A second period deflection by Kyle Okposo gave the Islanders the lead, igniting the crowd even more. Defenseman Johnny Boychuk finished the second period with a game-changing diving stop on Ovechkin and headed to the locker room to the sound of a loud “John-ny Boy-chuk!” chant.

Nicklas Backstrom ripped the hearts out of many of the 16,170 fans when he went top shelf and found the back of the net with just 6:06 to play. Was this the beginning of another late-game Isles collapse? I’m sure that two weeks ago, many Islanders fans would have anticipated that. But this day was different. After the goal, another thunderous “Let’s go Islanders” chant broke out and the crowd stayed in it. The fans wouldn’t go unheard, and refused to go home unhappy. Regulation ended and fans buckled up for the long overtime period…or at least that’s what they thought.

Fifteen seconds. That’s all it took. Nick Leddy fired the puck, Nikolay Kulemin deflected it on net, and Islanders captain John Tavares picked up the rebound and sliced the puck just over the pad of goaltender Braden Holtby, sending Islanders country into a mass frenzy. The Capitals left the ice to a resounding “YES! YES! YES!” chant, and were now down two games to one, to a team that hasn’t won a playoff series in 20 years.

The game also signaled that more hockey is to be played at the Coliseum, as the Islanders are guaranteed to play at least two more games in the Barn, with more on the way if they can close out Washington twice more and advance to the next round.

The Islanders before the final regular season game at Nassau Coliseum on April 12, 2015

The Islanders before the final regular season game at Nassau Coliseum on April 12, 2015

This season, the Islanders have honored their past, bringing back legends from the cup years, and honoring them individually. Last weekend, the Islanders shocked many when they did not bring back all of them for the last regular season game, but opted for “decades night” a week earlier, bringing back two players from each decade. No offense to the players honored, but people who paid big money for tickets didn’t come to see Eric Cairns, Steve Webb and Shawn Bates. They came to see Nystrom, Bossy, Gillies, Potvin, Smith, Trottier, Bourne, Resch, Lafontaine, Westfall, Harris, Morrow, Tonelli, Goring, Sutter, Turgeon, Volek, Palffy, Berard, and Jonsson all in one room on the final night of the season. They came to see the guys who turned the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum into Fort Neverlose and into the Barn, and many were left in disappointment. But we move on. The only truly fitting ending to the coliseum now would be John Tavares skating to center ice, shaking commissioner Gary Bettman’s hand, and lifting that 35-pound trophy sky high. That would honor the past, and what the building has meant to all Islanders fans. It’s place where many memories were made, and a place where many have spent most of their childhoods. It’s Home.

Game four is set for 7 pm on Tuesday night.


Brett Malamud is an English Rhetoric Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

Team of the Future? Islanders Are A Contender For Years To Come

By Brett Malamud

Gone are the days of Fishsticks, golf in April, and Mad Mike. After GM Garth Snow’s recent string of moves, the Islanders have set themselves up to make some noise in the Eastern Conference for the next handful of years.

With Thursday’s news that the Islanders locked up Johnny Boychuk to a seven-year, $42 million deal that comes just two weeks after the team signed Nick Leddy to a seven-year, $38.5 million deal, Snow cemented the top defensive line for the years to come. Snow also has a hefty pool of prospects that are poised for big careers. I’d go so far as to say that the next decade’s defensive pairings could be set if GM Garth Snow wants it. It could look something along the lines of this:

Johnny Boychuk – Nick Leddy

Travis Hamonic – Ryan Pulock

Griffin Reinhart – Calvin De Haan

Matt Donovan

Not to mention that they’d still have the likes of Adam Pelech and Scott Mayfield waiting in the minors for the call. Of course, the Islanders could look to flip one or two of these players, in the hopes of a greater return (whether it be an established player or another draft pick). Whatever the case, this team is extremely deep, thanks to Snow’s key trades and draft picks.

NHL: New York Islanders at Boston Bruins

Looking in goal, Jaroslav Halak set the Islanders franchise record for the most wins in a single season. Snow flipped the struggling Chad Johnson for an upgraded backup goalie in Michael Neuvirth, giving the team someone they could rely on down the stretch.

Turning up front, Snow has built up the offense that led the team to last place in the NHL just a few seasons ago. That starts on the first line with homegrown forwards John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey. Anders Lee, Ryan Strome, and Brock Nelson come together to form the “kid line” of even more homegrown talent. The acquisition of Tyler Kennedy should help the penalty kill and should bring additional depth as this team goes forward into the playoffs this season. The signings of Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin proved to work out in the first season. The Islanders have found themselves with one of the deadliest offenses in the NHL. But don’t think that this is a fluke. No. The Islanders have more talent on the way in the likes of Joshua Ho-Sang, who is tearing it up in juniors. The 19 year old forward has 12 goals and 42 assists for a total of 64 points in just 44 games this season for the Niagara IceDogs of the OHL. But it’s Islanders prospect Michael Dal Colle that is making headlines in Canada, tallying 38 goals and 49 assists for 87 points in just 51 games this season for the Oshawa Generals in the OHL. The two are sure to be in the NHL soon enough, and will look to continue their success. There’s no way to predict the future, but the team is deep on offense and has its focal points locked up to long term deals.

Gone are the days of the team of the future. The future has finally arrived for the Islanders and now is the time to compete for the Stanley Cup in the years to come.


Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy