With 12 days separating us from the NHL Draft, I believe it's time for the Isles to start locking up some of their key RFA's, but with the exception of Tim Jackman they have yet to do so.
Jackman was a solid fourth liner when called upon, but his role is to serve a spot in the minors. That leaves us with Bergenheim, Colliton, Tambellini, Nielsen, Walter, Regier, Brennan, Gervais, Johnson, Spiller, and Fata without a contract for next season. It will definitely be interesting to see who is kept around and for how long. We know that next season is "supposed" to be the start of a youth movement - I use parentheses because I'm not so sure Snow knows what plan he truly wants to follow.
It's been said that the Isles have been talking to a prospect likely to be drafted in the first round...at 10th or 12th overall. I don't need to remind you all that we have the fifth pick, so I'm sure you're scratching your heads as well. It makes me uneasy knowing this considering this will be Snow's first real draft and it's with a very valuable pick. Add to this team's mental blunders on Draft Day and now you're not only scratching your head, but icing it.
Granted, Snow is not Mike Milbury, but we still don't know what to expect from him. We know he's not afraid to make a big move as proven with the Ryan Smyth deal, so that leads me to wonder if he's considering a trade in which we drop a few spots to get the kid they seem to have interest in. VERY SCARY.
Some of you are probably saying, "Snow said we got a youth movement on the horizon! Why would we trade a top pick then?" And you're right, he has said that. But think about this...it was reported in Newsday that before the trade deadline Snow offered extensions to Vasicek and Satan and opted not to trade them. Now he's letting them go for nothing so the kids can play. He started this youth movement talk on D-Day after those minor moves were made.
It could all be coincidental, but it seems a little topsy turvy there. Tries to keep the old guys, let's them go for nothing so the kids can play. Snow's plan seems like it may have some cracks which is why I'll be a tad nervous come June 20th.
--Back to our RFA's--
Of the previously mentioned I do expect Bergenheim, Tambellini, Nielsen, Colliton, Walter, Gervais, Spiller, and Fata to be re-signed with Johnson being let go. I along with many others probably want Berg signed to maybe a two or three year deal, but I remember hearing somewhere that Snow plans on a 1-year deal for Sean so he can prove next year that he's capable of improving his play even more so. It's not a bad idea, but we've had problems with getting a contract done with Bergs before so fingers crossed that they get something done.
I don't see Tamby getting more than a one-year deal considering he has yet to prove anything at the NHL level. This is it. All or nothing. If he doesn't have a half-decent year I think it will be his last in an Islanders uniform. Nielsen may get the same deal but not as much is expected of him. Colliton, Walter, Spiller, and Fata will probably get their usual 2-way deals.
Bruno is a bit of a gamble like Tambellini. He doesn't have as much weight on his shoulders as Tamby does but it remains to be seen if he's hit the ceiling as far as his talent goes. He used to rip it up in the minors, but up at the big leagues he still seems a bit awkward at times and is only emerging as a solid defensive minded defenseman. There's nothing wrong with that, but he needs to round up his game as a whole if he wants to stick around.
Even if they all turn out to be one or two year deals, Snow has his hands full before the draft and free agency. Let's hope he gets crackin on this youth movement sooner rather than later.