With free agency well underway, the New York Islanders have made a few moves and have been a little bit quiet. On the plus side, the club has brought back Evgenni Nabokov for another season at least. Also sticking around for a while longer will be Travis Hamonic, who signed a seven-year extension with the team. The Islanders traded for Cal Clutterbuck, then signed him to a four-year contract extension. They got rid of Rick DiPietro, thankfully, and added some depth up front in the forms of Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Peter Regin.
By resigning Nabokov, the Islanders have set themselves up to have a solid starting netminder again this year. Yes, I am well aware of Nabokov’s struggles in the past come playoff time, but for the right here and now, having Nabokov back provides stability in a position that has been one of the Islanders weaknesses. Also another huge plus for the Islanders was locking up Hamonic for the long term. Hamonic has been a steady force on the blueline the past few seasons, and will only be getting better as the years go by.
Adding the new guys up front in the form of Bouchard and Clutterbuck were big deals for the Islanders. Bouchard adds a good set of hands, and brings some depth to the position of center, an area the Islanders have needed to improve on a bit the last few years. Clutterbuck, as we know, will be adding a great physical presence to the lineup. Along with Matt Martin, those two guys are going to be a lot of fun to watch throw their weight around. Those moves have been somewhat impressive, but for the Islanders, there is still work to be done.
Two guys who should have new contracts are Brad Boyes and Josh Bailey. Boyes is a free agent, but as most know, he put up decent numbers playing with the team last year. It would make perfect sense to try and bring him back into the fold, just to sure up the position of winger. I would love to be able to see what Boyes could do playing a full season with both John Tavares and Matt Moulson. As far as Bailey is concerned, he is a restricted free agent at the moment. He still has another year left on his contract, but as it looks like now, he will be going to filing for Salary Arbitration. So for the Islanders future, it would be a good idea to try and get him locked up too. I know he hasn’t produced as much as Islanders fans would have hoped, but if given the right linemates, Bailey will breakout and be the force the Islanders thought he can be.
As a whole I think the Islanders have done good trying to stay the course and build the team through the draft. Would I like to see the Islanders spend a little more money and attract some players to join the team and make them better? Absolutely, I would. If it will actually happen or not remains to be seen. For the moment at least, I, for one, am content with what the Islanders have done to this point in free agency. Of course, we still have about a month and a half or so until training camps open, so anything can happen between now and then.