Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Evaluating My Predictions

They say a broken clock is still right twice a day. My trusty crystal ball performed a bit better than that, but clearly it's in need of a tune-up before I go out on a limb and make any more predictions. Next time I'll use the ouija board.

Things started on a promising note. I woke up this morning to learn that Mike Comrie signed a one-year extension for $4M. That's second-line center type money, just as predicted in yesterday's post. So it wasn't even 8AM and I was already one-for-one on my predictions. My feeling is that this was a necessary move by our young GM. I've been as frustrated by Comrie's play at times this season as anyone. But looking at the dearth of talent that will be available this summer, we needed to lock up our #1 scorer and solid second-line centerman. Hopefully Snow can work some magic this summer and get a true #1 center to complement this signing.

I was also right-on with the McCabe non-trade. Sure, it's not that hard to predict something that won't happen, but this was the only substantiated rumor we had heading into the final 24 hours before the deadline. Without knowing what may or may not have been offered, I am generally happy that this deal did not happen. Unless we could have acquired the Leafs first-round pick next year (a longshot, at best), I wouldn't have been happy taking on McCabe's hefty cap hit.

From here, my guesses got downright ugly. Again, there's no way to know how close we were to seeing a deal go down, but Satan and Fedotenko will both remain with the team. At this point, my gut tells me neither guy will be re-signed. That said, I wouldn't be shocked if both are. The bottom line is, we need to suit up a full roster next year, and right now any outcome is possible. Especially given Nolan's predilection towards veterans over the newbies. But if I assume for the moment that neither return next year, I would have liked to see a move made. Not so much with Fedotenko, where I doubt we would have seen much of a return. But for Satan, I would assume we could have gotten, at worst, a second-round pick or solid prospects.

Finally, a few deals were done that my Magic 8-Ball failed to foresee. First was the news of the trading our 7th round pick to the Sharks for big defenseman Rob Davison. I can't claim to know anything about the guy other than what you can read on nhl.com. Still, for the depth it provides and the toughness it adds (especially in the absence of Sutton and Witt) it wasn't a bad move. Next came news of Chris Simon going to the Wild for a sixth round pick. I'll give this an A+. Even before the Hollweg and Ruutu incidents, I was questioning Simon's role on the team. His days as a reliable (and responsible) enforcer were behind him, and he didn't contribute enough offensively. In fairness, I didn't so much have an issue with Simon as with the way Nolan over-used him. But seeing as that probably wasn't going to change, given their close relationship, I am happy to see this move made. Lastly, we moved MAB to Anaheim for a third-round pick. I don't exactly understand this move from Anaheim's perspective, but I'm also not an expert on all things Ducks. I've never been a Bergeron hater (he gives me far less heartburn than Berard), but it was clear he was never going to be fully accepted in Nolan's system. Given that, a third rounder seems like fair compensation.

So another deadline came and when. Certainly not the barn burner we had last year, but nothing to get too upset about either. As an Islanders fan accustomed to controversy, I'll take it.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Deadline Predictions

As I write this, we are a mere 25 hours away from the NHL's trading deadline. The only hard news to materialize thus far is the signing of Trent Hunter to a 5-year, $10M extension. Last year Hunter was far and away my favorite player on the team. While his play has slipped a bit this season, at that price the signing can only be classified as a "no brainer". Plus, my Hunter jersey will not be obsolete for the foreseeable future!

While nothing is ever certain when it comes to the deadline, the one thing I can say with reasonable confidence is that the Islanders will not make the same kind of splash they made last year. And frankly, that is a good thing. Still, despite the cloud of secrecy every GM in the league is operating under, why not look into the Islanders 360 Magic 8 Ball and get some predictions?

Just to give everyone some perspective, here are some of the things in the past that my Magic Ball has accurately foretold:

- The contents of Al Capone's vault
- The ending of "The Sixth Sense"
- The precise date and time of Andy Hilbert's first goal this season

So clearly there's some mojo floating around inside this orb o' mine. Now, onto the predictions:

Will anyone else get re-signed prior to the deadline?
Garth Snow will convince Mike Comrie to stay on Long Island and sign for "2nd line center" money. This will happen prior to 3PM on Tuesday, making Garth's #1 offseason priority a top-line center. There will be no other extensions prior to the deadline.

Will anyone be traded?
Garth is no Mad Mike, but he still needs to make a little bit of noise at the deadline. So of course the answer is YES! With so little talent available, Miro Satan is one of the hottest commodities in the league at the moment. Garth will convince him to waive his no-trade clause for the chance to play for a true contender, and in return the Islanders will get at least a first-round pick in the upcoming draft. Garth will also attempt to move the streaky Fedotenko, and at the last minute will accept a deal that most fans will consider unfavorable.

Will Bryan McCabe come back to Long Island?
Here, the outlook is fuzzy. It all hinges on just how desperate Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher is to clear some cap room. Given the lop-sided nature of any deal that Snow would (hopefully) require to take on that cap hit, I just don't see it happening. If this deal does happen, I predict that it will either be hailed as a stroke of genius or an unmitigated disaster, depending on how the specifics shake out.

Will the Islanders be a better team after the deadline?
As far as this season goes, no. Moving one of our top scorers in Satan will not improve this year's results. Sadly, the 8-ball predicts that the injuries on our blue-line, the loss of Sillinger, and the trade of Satan will keep us on the outside looking in for this year's playoffs. However, with two first round picks in next year's draft, the development of Comeau and Okposo, and getting a healthy D corps back, we will be a more successful team in 2008-2009.

There you have it. No need to follow the news for the next 25 hours, this is how it'll all go down. And hey, if I'm wrong...well, there's a first time for everything.

Monday, February 18, 2008

That Priceless Feeling

A lot has happened since my last post, all those 18 days ago. When I posed the question "Buyers or Sellers", the Isles were a mere 2 games into their eventual 7 game losing streak. Each loss that followed only served to make my question less relevant. I was ready to SELL, SELL, SELL! A bag of pucks for Comrie? Sold! New t-shirt guns for Sillinger? Done and done.

I'll admit, I was ready to write-off the season. A big contributor to that feeling was the Giants victory in Super Bowl XLII. What does one have to do with the other, you ask? Well, neck-and-neck with my love for Long Island's hockey team is my devotion to NJ's Big Blue. I didn't miss one snap from the Giants 2007 season, and only a handful over the past several years. And while I'd always take a Stanley Cup over a Super Bowl win, I was in a state of constant euphoria ever since Eli hit Plaxico with the go-ahead TD. I barely noticed that the Isles kept on losing, as I spent all my free time watching Super Bowl highlights and reliving that amazing game in my mind.

Finally, by last weekend I made my way back to reality and what I found was depressing. Not only the losing streak. The Giants reminded me of what it can feel like to be a fan of a winner. As crazy as I got watching the Giants win it all, I can only imagine the feeling if (and hopefully when) the Isles bring the Cup back to LI. Facing the dim truth that we are realistically a long way from experiencing that feeling made me...sad. There's no other word for it.

I was 7 years old when we last won the Cup. I have memories of those days, but was far too young to have any real appreciation for it. The Super Bowl reminded me that, for a die-hard fan, you can't put a price on a championship. As much as the Giants' win took my short-term focus away from hockey, it's now increased my appetite for the Stanley Cup.

So even though we've rebounded a bit with three wins in a row, including a dominating performance against Atlanta, I'm still ready to sell. I'm willing sacrifice the next few seasons if it's clear we are moving in the right direction towards building a winner. I don't want to waste too may of DPs prime years, but I don't want to continue to cheer for a team where a first round playoff exit is considered successful. As a fan, all I can do is hope the Snow/Wang/Nolan braintrust has a plan. I can hope that Wang is not only interested in getting the Lighthouse project done, and that he really is committed to building a winner on Long Island. I can hope that I will get to re-live the euphoria I felt two weeks ago, as our Captain of the future lifts the Stanley Cup over his head in front of my disbelieving eyes.