What will the Islanders do to replace Mark Streit?

sheldonsouray3.jpgWith 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.

andrewmacdonald1.jpgSo 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.

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    Ovechkin, and Ovi Jr., take the ice at All-Star skills night

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    SUNRISE, Fla. — When you’ve got the second-most goals in NHL history, you’re evidently permitted to bring a guest onto the ice for the All-Star Skills competition.

    That’s why there were two No. 8 Washington jerseys out there Friday night.

    Capitals star Alex Ovechkin took the ice with his Metropolitan Division teammates – and his oldest child, 4-year-old Sergei.

    Sergei, named for Ovechkin’s late brother, was wearing an Ovi Jr. jersey. The kid has built a bit of a following in recent weeks, after scoring a goal at a Caps practice in December and playing a role in helping the Washington crowd celebrate his dad’s 800th goal.

    It was Ovi Jr.’s first chance at being part of an All-Star weekend. His father hasn’t participated at All-Star since 2018, either because of COVID-19 or injuries. The last time his dad played in an All-Star event, Sergei hadn’t been born.

    Alex Ovechkin has 812 goals. He only trails Wayne Gretzky’s 894 in NHL history.

    And later in the night, Ovi Jr. got to center a line alongside his dad and Pittsburgh great Sidney Crosby. They each got an assist on a goal that Sergei scored – beating Roberto Luongo, the Florida great who came out of retirement for All-Star weekend.

    Said Ovechkin after his son scored: “I think he’s really enjoying it.”

    WELCOME HOME, LU

    Luongo got to be part of one more All-Star competition.

    In a building where a banner bearing his No. 1 jersey hangs – he’s the only former Panthers player to have that distinction – Luongo was a celebrity goaltender during the Breakaway Challenge during the Skills Competition on Friday night.

    He stopped his lone shot in the breakaway, off the stick of Toronto’s Mitch Marner. On one hand, Marner is the Maple Leafs’ leading scorer this season. On the other hand, he was also wearing a white suit, sunglasses and a light blue T-shirt to keep with a “Miami Vice” theme.

    Luongo was up to the challenge. Marner tried to beat him to the glove side, but Luongo got enough of it to make the save – then flopped forward to cover up the rebound, the smile clearly seen through his mask.

    “You got too close,” Luongo told Marner.

    Later, Luongo told ESPN during the telecast of the event that “this is my house. This is my home right here. The crease is my home.”

    Luongo’s pads paid tribute to his career – the design paid tribute to his time both as a member of the Panthers and the Vancouver Canucks.

    He also took part, and scored a goal, in a Florida alumni game on Wednesday night.

    REMEMBERING JIMMY

    Sergei Ovechkin – who knocked a shot into an open net during a stoppage of the skills events – wasn’t the only child who got a great view of the night.

    Philadelphia forward Kevin Hayes has his 3-year-old nephew Beau with him for All-Star weekend. Beau’s father was Jimmy Hayes, Kevin Hayes’ brother.

    Jimmy Hayes was 31 when he died in 2021 with fentanyl and cocaine in his system. He played for four NHL teams, including Florida.

    Kevin Hayes is part of an All-Star weekend for the first time.

    ANTHEM POISE

    “The Star-Spangled Banner” was performed by the South Florida Gay Men’s Chorus, and group crushed it – never minding that the crowd, representing several different fan bases, was going to shout some term specific to their team at various points in the lyrics.

    Florida fans shout along with “red” and “Knight,” one a nod to one of the team’s primary colors, the other for goaltender Spencer Knight. There also were some shouts from other fan bases; some St. Louis fans, for example, could be heard singing “home of the Blues” instead of “home of the brave” to close the song.

    And “O Canada” performer Hannah Walpole had some shouting as she sang as well, particularly when she reached the “true North” portion of those lyrics – something typically heard at Winnipeg games.

    SLAP SHOTS

    Cale Makar, the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner from the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche, was the first participant in the Fastest Skater event – the opening competition of the night. He fell coming around the second turn. … Tampa Bay’s Pat Maroon, one of the broadcasters on the event, reported that he was “freezing” by working at ice level. “I’m used to the gear,” said Maroon, who was in a blazer and open shirt Friday night. … A big hit for those used to the regular colors of FLA Live Arena – and basically all other hockey arenas – was the ocean-water-shade of blue used for the blue lines and the creases. The faceoff dots at the circles on either end of the ice aren’t the standard solid red this weekend, but depict an image of the sun instead.

    Capitals sign Dylan Strome to five-year, $25 million extension

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    FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Washington Capitals signed forward Dylan Strome to a five-year extension worth $25 million.

    The team announced the contract during NHL All-Star Weekend, which is taking place in South Florida – the place Strome was drafted third in 2015.

    Strome will count $5 million against the salary cap through the 2027-28 season. He was set to be a restricted free agent this summer.

    “Dylan is an intelligent and skilled center and has been a great addition to our organization,” general manager Brian MacLellan said. “We are pleased to sign him to a long-term contract. We feel his skill set is a great fit for our team as he enters the prime years of his career at an important position.”

    Strome is getting a raise from the $3.5 million deal he signed with the Capitals after the Chicago Blackhawks opted not to tender him a qualifying offer and made him a free agent. Strome has 11 goals and 25 assists in 36 games this season and ranks third on Washington’s roster with 14 power-play points.

    The Mississauga, Ontario, native who played his junior hockey alongside Connor McDavid with the Erie Otters has 206 points in 325 regular-season NHL games with the Arizona Coyotes, Blackhawks and Capitals.

    Golden Knights captain Mark Stone undergoes back surgery

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    LAS VEGAS — Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone is out indefinitely after undergoing back surgery in Denver, the club announced.

    The Knights termed the procedure as successful and that Stone “is expected to make a full recovery.”

    This is the second time in less than a year that Stone has had back surgery. He also had a procedure May 19, 2022, and Stone said in December this was the best he had felt in some time.

    But he was injured Jan. 12 against the Florida Panthers, and his absence has had a noticeable effect on the Knights. They have gone 1-5-2 without Stone, dropping out of first place in the Pacific Division into third.

    Stone is second on the team in goals with 17 and in points with 38.

    Devils associate coach Andrew Brunette charged with DUI

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    DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — New Jersey Devils associate coach and former Florida Panthers head coach Andrew Brunette was arrested in South Florida while driving home from a bar in his golf cart, authorities said.

    Brunette, 49, was pulled over just blocks from the ocean in the Deerfield Beach area, north of Fort Lauderdale, according to a Broward Sheriff’s Office arrest report. He was charged with one count of driving under the influence and two counts of disobeying a stop or yield sign. Brunette was released on $500 bond.

    The Devils said in a statement that the team was aware of Brunette’s arrest and gathering additional information.

    According to the arrest report, a deputy was in the process of giving Brunette’s illegally parked golf cart a ticket around midnight when Brunette walked out of a nearby bar and told the deputy he was about to leave. The deputy said Brunette seemed unsteady on his feet and slurred his speech, and when he was joined by his wife, the deputy said he overheard the wife tell Brunette not to drive while the deputy was there.

    The deputy remained in the area and reported watching the couple drive away about 17 minutes later, according to the report. The deputy said he watched the golf cart run two stop signs before pulling Brunette over on a residential street about a mile away from his home. According to the report, Brunette had difficulty following instructions during a field sobriety test before eventually quitting and asking for an attorney. He also declined to take a breathe test to measure his blood-alcohol level, officials said.

    Online jail and court records didn’t list an attorney for Brunette.

    Brunette is in his first season as associate coach of the Devils. He was interim coach of the Florida Panthers last season after taking over when Joel Quenneville resigned for his connection to a 2010 Chicago Blackhawks sexual abuse scandal.

    The Panthers fired Brunette after they lost in the second round of the playoffs last spring despite him leading them to the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s top team during the regular season.

    The Sudbury, Ontario, native played 1,159 NHL games for Washington, Nashville, Atlanta, Minnesota, Colorado and Chicago from 1995-2012. He was a Wild assistant in 2015-16 and worked on Florida’s staff from 2019-2022.