I have no idea why I did not think of this sooner, maybe because I despise gimmicks – but like they say “sex sell” (although this has NOTHING to do with sex, but I digress). I would like to introduce something new to Islesblogger – it’s a weekly feature I call “Hot Headlines“. My goal is to provide you with a recap of the current week’s Islanders related headlines. Sometimes so much stuff happens during a week that I hate having to post a handful of times, especially when the subject has already been spoken about in numerous places around the blogosphere. In the way I play to present it, I will likely link to the original news (press release, newspaper or official team site) and a blog or two – then present my own take. Obviously, there will be times when an announcement or news story will be big enough to warrant it’s own post – but this way all the smaller items can be posted at once – or be recapped in one spot. I plan to speak to Dom over at Lighthouse Hockey, as we are still knocking around ideas on how to implement my content over there too.
As you may or may not have heard, the Islanders have signed defensive prospect Mark Katic to a three year entry level contract yesterday. Chris Botta had this story exclusively, which as we have come to know – has happened on numerous occasions this season.
Katic is a smallish defenseman (6’0″ and 190lbs) who was 13-41-54 in 63 games this season with Sarnia of the Ontario Hockey League, but with purported offensive upside. Katic will likely join the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for the remainder of their season and playoffs.
My take on Katic: From the little bit of Katic I have read and seen, he is another defenseman who has the potential to fit the mold of the type of d-man who can thrive in Gordon’s system. With Campoli gone to Ottawa, it’s never a bad thing when you can stock up on defensive prospects.
Another signing fresh off the presses, the Islanders TODAY signed another Sarnia product in Justin DiBenedetto to an entry level three year deal. The 6’0″ 200lb DiBenedetto went 45-48-93 in 62 games this season, and finished FOURTH in scoring in the OHL. Once again, Chris Botta broke this news and goes into some detail regarding the player. DiBennedetto will also join the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for the remainder of the season.
My take on DiBenedetto: Drafted in the 6th round of the 2008 entry draft, Justin was a linemate of number one overall draft pick Steve Stamkos on the Sarnia Sting. It was speculated at the time that DB’s great season last year was the result of playing with the OHL powerhouse of Stamkos – but this certainly wasn’t exactly the case being he had another terrific season. When Tom Liodice and I were at the draft last year in Ottawa and DiBennedetto’s name was announced – I remember having this exact discussion. It should be interesting to see how this player can perform at a higher level with some other skilled players.
Doug Weight was signed to a contract extension earlier in the week and I posted what I had thought about it as it happened. Since then, news has trickled out and there have been a great deal of quotes from Weight since then that have only made my opinion that much stronger.
Such as these from Greg Logan’s blog:
“I’m old school maybe to a fault, but I believe in having a team that does everything together, a team that will do anything for each other and just wants to succeed for each other,” said Weight, who has demonstrated vividly since his return to the lineup just how feisty a 38-year-old guy can be. “I think we’re building that here, and we’re getting past the cliché of the ‘young team’ and a ‘youth movement.’
“These are really good people, good guys that I really enjoy even in my old age. You know, I’ve got the wrong music playing in my car and I can’t stay out as late as they can, but it’s fun. You’ve got a guy like Kyle [Okposo], the way he’s played, and we’re going to get a key draft pick. We’ll see about the health of Ricky [DiPietro], and hopefully, we can turn things around that way. We’ve had some good play.
“Obviously, Mark [Streit] has been unbelievable. We’ve got one of the four or five best defensemen in the world on our team that can log minutes. That’s a strong opinion, but I’ve played with a lot of the best. I think we build around him, and we’re going to be a balanced team and I think we can be a playoff team.”
Last week at home the Islanders lost one of their brighest stars this season in Kyle Okposo to a groin strain – it’s unlikely he will finish out 2008/2009 and with that, the potential to reach the 20 goal plateau.
Near the end of last week, Islanders forward Andy Hilbert suffered injured ribs and has been out ever since. Hilbert is a key minute cruncher and his strong presence on the penalty kill was sorely noticed during the 9-0 romping the Islanders received on Tuesday in Carolina. It’s just another tally in the long, long, long list of injuries suffered by this team in 2008/2009.
In other injury news (yea, there is more) forward Blake Comeau was lost after the first period in Carolina – the injury? A fractured wrist. Prognosis: Blake will miss the remainder of the season and likely will not be sent down to Bridgeport to help in their playoff games. Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse at this point….
In the past week, we have seen the return of three injured players: Doug Weight (multiple injuries, knee most notably), Sean Bergenheim (groin) and Mark Streit (groin). Two of the three players returned for the Carolina game and played significant minutes – obviously they were a step off – we will leave it at that.
Ex-Isled Bill Guerin talks Isles with Greg Logan
Greg Logan caught up with the recently departed ex-Islander and former captain Bill Guerin and got a beauty of a quote from him:
Guerin was pleased that close friend Doug Weight signed a one-year extension for $2 million with the Isles. “He likes playing there, he’s great with the young guys on the team, and they need somebody like him,” Guerin said. “He doesn’t want to move his family again.”
Occasionally, Guerin watches an Isles game, and he’s seen improvement, mentioning forwards Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, Blake Comeau and defenseman Mark Streit as key pieces. Asked if he thinks they can turn it around anytime soon, especially if they draft goal scorer John Tavares, Guerin hesitated.
“Well, I don’t know the Tavares kid,” he said. “I don’t think he’s like Sid . . . If Ricky gets healthy and if they can get another guy on the back end, I don’t think they’re that far off. I don’t.”
Bill Guerin was a consummate and passionate captain for the New York Islanders – he was the first captain with a backbone for this organization in a long, long time. He brought respect to this organization at a level that it sorely needed, perhaps it jump started the rebuild in a sense. I am glad that the split was amicable and that he has no ill feelings – we need all the good talk from veterans as we can. Spread the word Billy, spread the word.
Scott Gordon named Team USA assistant
The Tampa Watch
Tonight is a tough night as a hockey fan, if Tampa gains points in Washinton – they cannot “clinch” the 30th spot. If the Islanders win tonight and Tampa loses – they make things that much tougher for themselves and the “best chance” at the number one draft pick – and John Tavares.
29: 66 pts 2 games remaining
30: 61 pts 3 games remaining
Watch the score live: