There’s been some traction between the New York Islanders and pending UFA goalie Michal Neuvirth.
“Garth [Snow, Isles GM] and I had a positive conversation regarding Michal coming back next season to play for the Islanders,” Neuvirth’s agent, Patrik Stefan, told PHT on Friday. “The Islanders are a well built young team with a bright future. Although it was for short time, Michal enjoyed playing there and was impressed with the organization.
“Garth is well aware of what the UFA’s market for goalies this summer and he and I agreed to continue our conversation at the end of this month.”
This development is interesting on two fronts. One, in mid-May, Stefan said he hadn’t heard anything from the Islanders about his client.
Two, Stefan continued to insist his client is gunning for a No. 1 job.
“The bottom line is Michal wants to and is ready to be a starter next season,” Stefan said of the 27-year-old, adding that Neuvirth “will be one of the top goalies on the UFA list July 1st.”
If Neuvirth (.914 save percentage between Buffalo and New York last year) really wants a starting gig, it’s hard to see him going back to the Islanders. Jaroslav Halak seems firmly entrenched as the starter, coming off a year in which he finished fifth in the NHL with 38 wins, made the All-Star team and helped the Isles get back into the playoffs.
In an opening-round loss to Washington, Halak finished with a .926 save percentage and 2.30 GAA.
If Neuvirth does decide to go elsewhere, he’ll dive into a goalie market that’s flush with options.
Fellow (projected) UFAs include Antti Niemi, Karri Ramo and Jhonas Enroth. Devan Dubnyk doesn’t figure to get to market, but stranger things have happened.
On the trade front, several names are out there. Ottawa’s shopping Robin Lehner and Craig Anderson, and Vancouver GM Jim Benning revealed he’s getting calls on Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom. The Blackhawks have three goalies under contract; what could Antti Raanta fetch them? Would the Leafs trade James Reimer?
All this could have a major impact on Neuvirth’s goal of being a No. 1 next season.