Much like the words of the Great Ricky Bobby of Talladega Nights, a lot of the Islander skaters were playing for the right to keep their jobs. The season started with Mike Comrie, Trent Hunter, Wade Dubielewicz, Miroslav Satan, Bryan Berard, Josef Vasicek, and Ruslan Fedotenko facing free agency in the 2008 off-season.
You can now add Rob Davison to that list as well, although I would be extremely surprised to see the team re-sign him this year.
Since then Comrie and Hunter have been resigned to one and five year contracts, respectively. Satan was offered a rumored 2 year deal before the trade deadline but stated he would not discuss his contract status until the end of the season - makes me wonder if he plans on discussing it at all. Vasicek had been rumored to have been offered a new deal as well but nothing new has surfaced on that possibility for months. As far as Fedotenko goes, I do not believe there was a contract offer.
Rumors are rumors. Plain and simple. In the end it will obviously come down to Snow & Co. deciding who should stay and who should go.
From my standpoint I sincerely hope that if it comes down to just one of the remaining impending UFA's to be re-signed, that it's Dubie. He has done nothing but a great job when called upon and wants to stay on the Island. The team seems to have acknowledged, finally, that DP is not made of metal and is just flesh and bone like the rest of us, unable to play all 82 games a year. I am very confident with Dubie playing 20-25 games a year and think he would be a great asset to our team - especially if he plays more than once every, uh, what was it? 30 games? Come on..
His +/- was not pretty to look at when the season began. Heck, no one's +/- is that pretty to look at when you think about it. However Berard's veteran presence on the blue line and his consistency at putting up solid numbers while being a reliable defensive asset was not seen often throughout the year, causing him to go in and out of the lineup. When the ship started to sink and the Islanders were waiving their white flag, Berard was set to go as a mainstay on the blue line and did a half-decent job. He racked up plenty of assists and was quick to defend his teammates, even if it didn't involve dropping the gloves. Despite a stronger finish, half-decent can't cut it. With our defense all ready consisting of solely defensive minded d-men in Witt, Martinek, Gervais, Sutton, and Meyer (who has shown offensive output in the past), I don't think the team can afford to re-sign him.
One of the team's many goals this summer should be to bring in a reliable, offensive minded dman that can help our power play. In my opinion he is not the man to turn too.
Ah yes. Miro. Hey, do you remember when Miro was with the Sabres? Yeah me too! He would absolutely destroy us. I remember when the Sabres were entertaining offers for him at the trade deadline in his contract year with the team. He was so good that year, and I remember being so excited hearing we were rumored to be interested in him. And forget about when we signed him. That probably was the best news I got besides knowing the lockout was over. He had a pretty good showing in his first year. Led the team with 35 goals. Not too shabby. The following year his production declined a little, but it was still, I think, satisfactory. Then we come to this past season...his contract year. I was expecting to see something close to his contract year with the Sabres with him playing his heart out, but instead us Isles fans got to see his worst output in an Islanders uniform. And I am sorry to say that it leaves me wanting him elsewhere next year. I had been a fan of him the first two years. He has talent and had the capabilities to be a force. He's passed his prime and his stats have been on a steady decline, which also may be attributed to him being placed on the point on the power play, something he said he was never comfortable with. I also feel Miro would have been better situated on a faster paced, high flying team - like the Sabres he was a part of. I just never got the impression that a player like Miro fit in Ted Nolan's system.
Thanks for the effort, but it's time to move on.
He's been labeled inconsistent for most of his career. Just add last year to the list. He went some odd number of 30 plus games with nothing more than a goal with an assist. Sure, he stepped up his play when Sillinger went down. However he was not scoring, only winning face-offs. You can't ignore the importance of face-offs, especially since Mike Sillinger has always been our go to guy. But Silly also could put the puck in the net or set up strong plays. Vaz was not as well-rounded. Although this can be taken as a very strong insult, I considered him the new Kvasha.
Sorry...I don't want another Kvasha.
Tank started the season off very strong on a line with Comrie and Guerin. They clicked almost immediately and appeared to possibly be a force in the very near future. However we were quickly reminded that these guys were called the castaways for a reason. Comrie managed to put up the numbers of a second-line center after being put in a role he wasn't capable of handling. Guerin's a good fit on the second line as well, but Fedotenko was lost and almost forgotten much like Vasicek for a good chunk of the season. Ironically he was suddenly on a tear come deadline-day. Hmm..and then he began to decline into injury once nothing was done. Sure, he said he wanted to stay - but that can only be taken with a grain of salt. And even if his effort was in order to insure himself of remaining with the team...that to me is entirely unacceptable. His best play is needed throughout the year. He doesn't have to score 30 or 40 goals, but the fact he only played with passion when his job was on the line shows he does not fit the 'Grit. Character. Heart' motto the team likes to project.
Send him on his way as well.
As you can see, I do not wish to see any of the major impending UFA's back with the team next year. Comeau, Okposo, Bergenheim, and even possibly Jeff Tambellini, will have those spots next year. Perhaps we can hopefully even see a first line forward replacing one of those players as well. Considering Snow is feeling a youth movement, I would be very surprised to see any of these guys back in an Islander's uniform.
But now you see how I stand with this bunch. Where do you stand? Who should stay and who should go?