Lubomir Visnovsky

Here’s who’s left after Day 1 of free agency


Well, the first day of NHL free agency is over, and some big names were crossed off the board (generally for surprisingly reasonable prices). Even so, there are quite a few significant players still looking for a new contract as of July 2.

Let’s take a look at some of the most noteworthy parties who are still looking for a dance partner.

Martin St. Louis (pictured) – At 40, the pint-sized winger is almost certainly limited to a short-term (probably one-year) deal. His production plummeted in 2014-15, so he likely relates to the likes of Justin Williams in not having a great contract year. Perhaps he’ll end up with a short, cheap deal that will be comparable to that of former teammate Brad Richards? Retirement is always a possibility, too.

Joel Ward – This has not been a great start for players who market themselves as “clutch guys.” Ward doesn’t believe in clutch, yet people who may fall under that perceived category – Antoine Vermette and Williams – either grabbed the same amount of money or less than they made before.

Seriously, Day 1 was weird.

Johnny Oduya – A veteran defenseman with a lot of desirable qualities, although he doesn’t possess the sort of offensive panache as someone like Mike Green. One would assume that his agent would try to use Francois Beauchemin (three years, $13.5 million) and Paul Martin (four years, $19.4 million) as comparables.

Cody Franson – How much did the trade to Nashville hurt his bargaining power? Still, he’s just 27 and already has two 30+ point seasons to his name (plus his possession numbers are solid). Plenty of teams could use defense, yet as you can see from this list, other quality choices might undercut his value a bit.

Christian Ehrhoff – Speaking of rough contract years, Ehrhoff’s was pretty much a disaster. Could he be a nice bargain? Perhaps he’ll opt for another one-year deal to drive up the price of a future contract …

Eric Fehr – He scored 19 goals this season and peaked with 21 in 2009-10. His only sabbatical from Washington (2011-12 with Winnipeg) went poorly, yet he could be a great sneaky pickup, perhaps for a contender?

Alexander Semin – One of the great mysteries of the market. He fits a theme of fading free agents: the once-terrifying sniper’s either like Dany Heatley in 2015 (done) or a resounding reclamation project.

Chris Stewart – Perennially disappointing, yet he almost scored 30 goals once and could be useful at the right price (and in the right situation).

Lubomir Visnovsky – As injury-prone as ever, yet his offensive skills could make him a nice depth find.

Marek Zidlicky – He is what he is: an aging and flawed blueliner who can still be a scoring asset.


This isn’t a comprehensive list, but it represents some of the bigger remaining names. Which player(s) should your team swipe?

Report: Isles, Hickey closing in three-year pact around $6.5M


Sounds as though the New York Islanders are close to a deal with pending RFA blueliner Thomas Hickey.

Per Newsday’s sources, the contract extension is believed to be of the three-year variety, with Hickey pulling down “in the range of” $6.5 million total — a cap hit of around $2.16M.

For Hickey, 26, it’s a nice bump from the $675,000 he netted annually on his last deal.

The former Kings first-rounder was claimed off waivers by the Isles prior to the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign and has been a steady lineup presence ever since; he’s appeared in 82 and 81 games in consecutive seasons and both set and matched a career-high in points, with 22 each year.

Getting Hickey locked in was fairly important for the Isles, as they dealt away Griffin Reinhart at the draft and don’t expect to return Lubomir Visnovsky.

That puts Hickey in a top-six defensive group with Johnny Boychuk, Travis Hamonic, Nick Leddy, Calvin De Haan and Brian Strait, with youngsters like Ryan Pulock and Scott Mayfield looking to make the leap.

Snow doesn’t ‘anticipate’ Visnovsky returning to Isles


Lubomir Visnovsky wants to keep playing, and he wants to remain a member of the New York Islanders.

However, the 38-year-old may not get his wish on that second part, based on what Isles GM Garth Snow told ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

“I don’t anticipate Visnovsky coming back,” said Snow, “so there’s potential for one of our young defensemen to earn a spot, whether it’s [Scott] Mayfield, [Ryan] Pulock, [Griffin] Reinhart, we’ll see what happens via the trade route at the draft and then look into free agency. Those are not guarantees. We feel we have a good group. I’m not shy to say we’d be happy to have the same group back.”

The Isles were a good team in 2014-15, but after finishing 23rd in goals against, it’s safe to say they still need to improve defensively.

That’s not to say Visnovsky was a massive defensive liability; he wasn’t. But it’s one of the things Snow will have to keep in mind when assembling his group.

Related: Islanders’ Okposo could be on trading block

Lubo won’t go: Visnovsky is ‘definitely’ playing next season


Earlier in the offseason, Lubomir Visnovsky said he’d like to play next season – and preferably do so with the New York Islanders – if his injury-ravaged frame would allow it. After a couple of months, he seems a lot more confident about his ambitions.

Visnovsky’s agent Neil Sheehy said that he’ll “definitely” play during the 2015-16 season (and also reiterated his interest in sticking with the Islanders), according to New York Newsday’s Stephen C. Lorenzo.

At first glance, one wonders why the Islanders would be all that interested in having him return.

He’s suffered from lousy injury luck basically during his entire NHL career, and it’s difficult to imagine his body holding up any better at his age (he’s turning 39 in August).

“Lubo” was limited to 53 regular season games in 2014-15. Many will remember his campaign for how it ended, as he was on the receiving end of a savage hit by Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson:

It’s a more appealing thought if both sides keep expectations in check, though.

While the Islanders seem like they’re poised to take advantage of other contenders’ salary cap woes a year after poaching Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy, Lighthouse Hockey rightly points out that GM Garth Snow must consider the young players set for raises after the 2015-16 season expires.

Visnovsky’s offensive skills could still be of use to the Islanders, especially on the power play … and especially at the right price.

If the Slovak defenseman is expecting anything close to the $4.75 million cap hit (and even larger salary in 2014-15) from his last contract, he’s listening to the wrong advice. However, one could imagine him getting a decent enough deal, especially if he settles for one year.

“The Silver Fox” isn’t the dynamic asset he once was, but he might be just the right fit for the Islanders.

(It’s kind of strange pondering Visnovsky courting the Islanders considering how much he initially resisted joining the team though, isn’t it?)

Caps’ Wilson on media criticism: ‘People that are writing it aren’t players’


Certain members of the New York media do not think much of Tom Wilson. That much has become clear in the wake of Wilson’s devastating hit on Islanders defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky — a collision that knocked the 38-year-old out of the Capitals-Isles series with a suspected concussion.

So, what does Wilson think of some of the things that have been written about him? Like, for example, that he’s a “wild-eyed instigator with little regard for his health or that of those on the ice with him”?

The answer is, not much.

“I mean, at the end of the day you go down the line and shake the Islanders’ hands,” Wilson told the Washington Post. “Everyone on that side understands what I’m doing. We’re players, we all play the game. People that are writing it aren’t players. Most of them have never played. A lot of the guys that have played — guys that are on panels, TSN — I didn’t hear one of those guys going on a huge rant. They all played the game; they understand it’s a fast game, it’s a hard-hitting game. Those hits are going to happen.”

Granted, the ink-stained wretches weren’t the only ones who had a problem with Wilson’s hit on Visnovsky. The Islanders didn’t like it too much either.

But Wilson’s right that there can be a major disconnect between players and media when it comes to stuff like this. By and large, players are more accepting of “hard-hitting” hockey, not to mention fighting, than those who cover the game. Not in all cases, but on the whole.

“I never want to hurt anyone,” Wilson said. “That’s never my goal. My goal is just to win the hockey game and get on the defense and make their lives difficult. I mentioned to a couple of the [Islanders] coaching staff in the handshake [line], I wish Visnovsky all the best. I know he’s an older guy. I have so much respect for him. He’s obviously been injury-prone. But at the end of the day, he’s playing. He knows how fast the game is, he knows how hard the hits are.”