Monday, June 2, 2008

And I Just Finally Learned How to Spell Dubielewicz...

Thanks to Greg Logan over at Newsday, we have a little pre-draft Islanders news to counter the summer doldrums. Word on the street is that the team will be parting ways with four of its UFAs - Dubie, Satan, Tank, and JoVas.

Capable backup Joey McDonald's one-way contract for next season virtually guaranteed that Dubie's days with the team were numbered. In a sense, I was a bit surprised to hear that they even made him an offer. I am and always have been a big fan of Dubielewicz, but given the circumstances of McDonald's contract this is the right decision for the team. I sense a hint of bitterness in Snow's comments - "We made a significant offer that he turned down". Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but why throw in the word significant if you're not at least a little bit upset by the situation? Then, Logan reports that Snow said of Dubie, "There wasn't much confidence from our coaching staff to play him. That's where we ran into trouble playing Ricky too many nights. We need a backup goalie our coaches will have confidence in from Day 1." It's unclear if these comments were made at the same time as the comments about the contract, or if they're just a rehash of an older statement. If the former, clearly there's some bad blood there. Let's hope not, and wish Dubie the best. He gave us a few great memories over the last couple of years.

I'm not at all surprised that Satan and Fedotenko will likely be playing elsewhere in 2008/2009. Factoring in their salaries ($4.5M, $2.9M respectively) and production (16 goals apiece), it's an easy call. Vasicek is a different story. His 16 goals and 34 points were a relative bargain at $750k for the season. Granted, he may be hoping for a nice bump next season. Still, for a team where scoring is at a premium, he added a bit of punch at a good value.

With few marquee free agents on the horizon (and little to no chance of landing the handful of big names), all of this paves the way for a youth movement. Okposo, Comeau, and Bergenheim have spots to lose, and Tambellini, Nielsen, and Walter all have legitimate shots to crack the squad. That is, assuming Snow doesn't pull a repeat of last year and fill the roster with marginal veterans through free agency. Something tells me that won't happen this year.

For a team that is essentially "buying time" until the Lighthouse Project (hopefully) materializes, this is the right approach. For the next couple of seasons, we will flesh out which of our prospects are the real deal. Then, with a new arena in place and a roster of young talent, we'll be able to better attract top UFAs and take a true step forward. At the very least, it's the start of a true "plan", something this team has been lacking for far too long.

On a personal note, thanks for all those who keep checking in to the blog periodically. Updates will likely continue to be sporadic throughout the summer, but I'll be back in full swing by the start of the season.

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