It was another busy day on the Island as GM Garth Snow got to work on locking down a pair of guys at the opposite end of the spectrum of their careers.
For the guy at the beginning of his career, 2011 first round pick Ryan Strome impressed everyone in training camp and signed his three-year, entry-level deal with the team and will at least get a nine game audition in the NHL. With the Islanders having John Tavares, Michael Grabner, Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo, as well as potentially Nino Niederreiter at some point early in the season they’re teeming over with young talent at forward.
Strome had a strong training camp and give the Isles hope that perhaps he can be the next youthful spark to lead them perhaps to the playoffs. He’ll get nine games to show if he means business already in his young career. If he can’t cut it just yet, he’ll head back to Niagara in the OHL.
On the flipside of things, the Islanders also signed up training camp tryout candidate Jay Pandolfo to a one-year deal. Pandolfo is making his return to the NHL after not playing last season. Pandolfo had a long career with New Jersey before being eventually frozen out with the Devils after they felt he’d lost a step in his game.
Pandolfo will plug in as a fourth liner and they’ll hope he can show some of his defensive skills that made him a vital cog of the Devils Stanley Cup teams in 2000 and 2003. At the very least, Pandolfo will give the young Islanders the veteran presence to learn from in the locker room.
We’ve said it in our team preview, but the Islanders are a team worth keeping an eye on this year. They may not be a playoff team, but they’re going to be fun to watch.
When the Winnipeg Jets drafted Mark Scheifele in the first round in the 2011 draft, many scoffed at the selection as the Jets passed on a seeming no-doubt player like Sean Couturier. Scheifele’s play in training camp and throughout the preseason has done wonders for his own reputation and that of the Jets scouts and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff as he’s looked like a mature player with a ton of skills.
With all that going for him, the Jets took care of the business side of things and signed Scheifele to his three-year entry-level deal to bring him on board to the NHL to start the season. Scheifele will likely get a lot of looks through the Jets’ first nine games of the year before coach Claude Noel and Cheveldayoff decide whether or not to send him back to junior hockey, but with the dearth of forward talent in Winnipeg and the need for bonafide playmakers, Scheifele is likely there to stay.
At 6’3″ 175 pounds Scheifele is a big kid with room to fill out physically. Last season playing for Barrie in the OHL, Scheifele had 22 goals and 53 assists and the Jets are going to need that kind of play out of him if they’re going to be challenging for a playoff spot at all in the Eastern Conference. With guys like Bryan Little, Nik Antropov, and Alex Burmistrov originally set to be the team’s top three centers, Scheifele will slot in there while Little goes back to his more natural home on the wing.
With Scheifele getting a shot to impress here with the Jets, at the very least he’ll get the experience of a lifetime getting to be there opening night in Winnipeg to see what he’ll have to look forward to nightly should he get sent back. If he excels, however, getting to live that all season as an 18 year-old would be as close to a dream come true as you can get.
Update (11:17 a.m.): Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun reports that Scheifele’s deal is worth $2.1 million over the three years plus bonuses and comes with a cap hit of $1.625 million per year. Standard fare for an entry-level deal for a top ten pick.
It’s safe to say that Flames GM Jay Feaster isn’t endearing himself to many Flames fans today. Calgary has been attempting to negotiate an entry level contract with 2009 first round pick Tim Erixon since he was picked in June 2009. The Flames had to get a deal done and signed with Erixon by 5 p.m. ET today or else Erixon would’ve been able to re-enter this year’s NHL Draft.
With Feaster unable to work out a deal and looking to get more than the one second round pick compensation the Flames would have received had Erixon re-entered the draft, Erixon was traded to the New York Rangers along with a fifth round pick in exchange for prospect Roman Horak and two second round picks.
Erixon was rated as Calgary’s top prospect by Hockey’s Future and as a defenseman at 6’2″ 190 he’s a physical kid with the ability to move the puck as well. He’s got NHL roots as his father is former New York Rangers forward Jan Erixon. For the Rangers it works out to be a potential steal yet again on defense for an organization already loaded up with good prospect depth on the blue line.
They were able to get former Montreal first round pick Ryan McDonagh from Montreal in the Scott Gomez deal and now with Erixon in the fold the Rangers new plan of building with talented youth gets even better. At 20 years-old there’s the chance that Erixon starts next year with the Rangers out of training camp. That possibility and high ceiling for him is a good reason why Flames fans are furious about this severe lack of ability to get what should’ve been a basic deal done. In this situation the Flames’ poor salary cap management might be to blame.
With the possibility of bonuses factored in and the likely wont by Erixon to be a part of the big club right away, his deal would’ve been pricey for the Flames to add. According to CapGeek the Flames are alreaday at $55 million against the cap for next season. A deal with Erixon would’ve added anywhere from $2 to $3 million per year on his entry level contract. Even with the cap supposedly slated to go up next season, the Flames would’ve been left with little cap space and the need to get a few more players signed. It’s not a good position to be in but for Feaster if the choice broke down to deciding to sign a top prospect or continuing to manage toxic assets and he chose the latter, that’s pretty inexcusable especially for an organization severely lacking top end prospect depth.
If Erixon pans out at all this is a runaway victory of a deal for the Rangers. The best the Flames can hope for is that they find some great picks in the second round of the draft and that Horak becomes a NHL starter. We know he was under the gun to get a deal done with the deadline being today, but this shapes up to be a very poor deal on paper for Calgary and one that will send Flames fans into a frustrated tizzy over.