With Mark Streit out for the next six months for the Islanders after suffering a torn rotator cuff and torn labrum in his shoulder, the question now turns to what Isles GM Garth Snow will do to replace him on the roster. The Islanders present a fascinating situation for how to replace your best defenseman. They’ve got plenty of salary cap space if they want to trade for a big name/big salary guy who has run out of time or patience elsewhere but they’ve also got very young talent within the organization that, if they chose to, could let them get plenty of experience at the NHL level.
Who are the candidates to jump into the lineup for the Islanders? Let’s take a quick look through the names on our short list of candidates.
If the Isles are looking at a competing team to take one of their castoffs, the first name that has been mentioned all over the place is Edmonton’s Sheldon Souray. Unfortunately, not even the best of the rumor mongers can fight through the definitive answers that have been put out by everyone within the industry. Flat out, the Isles do not have interest in Sheldon Souray and Chris Botta of Islanders Point Blank tells why.
No, the Islanders are not going to add more than $10 million in salary over the next two years for Sheldon Souray, an excellent power play gunslinger who should not be mentioned in the same sentence as Streit when talking about 30-minute, all-zone defensemen. Picking up Souray’s tab makes little sense, and the still-rebuilding Islanders know that. Consider it a longshot that the Islanders make a claim even if the Oilers place Souray on re-entry waivers. If Souray was on the final year of his contract, maybe. But he’s not, so…Next!
Moving right along.
This would seem like an ample opportunity to have the Rangers talk to the Isles about Wade Redden or the Devils about Bryce Salvador, but why would those rivals of the Islanders do something to help them out and why would the Isles take on all that salary when they don’t have to?
If Souray’s contract is a no-go with two years left, there’s no chance that Redden would be considered when he’s got four years left on his gigantic deal. Even if the Rangers were to bring him back through on re-entry waivers, there’s no chance the Isles would even bite then with the Rangers eating half of his salary.
One player to keep in the back of your mind that the Islanders are familiar with is Marc-Andre Bergeron. Lyle Richardson of Spector’s Hockey makes mention of him as someone the Isles might take a look at. He can help reproduce the offensive production lost from not having Mark Streit around, but defensively he’s a bit of a nightmare.
So with these possible players from outside the organization getting looked at, the selection pool for replacements from within the organization is worth taking a look at as well. The name at the top of the list to get more time figures to be Andrew MacDonald. MacDonald has gotten some opportunities in the past with the Islanders, but never in an expanded role. He’s got a big shot from the point and plays an admirable kind of game.
Another name to keep in mind is the Islanders’ other 2009 first round pick Calvin de Haan. de Haan is just 19 years-old but he improved his game immensely last year in juniors and is doing well to hang in there in training camp. Mind you, the Islanders have yet to play a preseason game so it’s tough to gauge what he’s doing against his teammates in scrimmages, but he knows that the opportunity to make the team is there now with Streit out.
The Islanders have also brought Anders Eriksson into camp on a professional tryout, but if he’s their choice to help fill an empty position, fans in Long Island have reason to complain. Eriksson spent last year with the Rangers as a press box player. How Garth Snow handles how to replace Mark Streit will go a long way towards telling Islanders fans what he thinks of both the Isles system of players and the team’s chances of competing for a playoff spot are.
Going for a big name guy might sell it that they’re trying hard but it could ultimately backfire. Sticking with what you’ve got would give off the air of mailing in the season before it starts, but if that’s where the best fit comes from you can’t really hammer him over it. The best way to win over the court of public opinion is just win on the ice.