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Aaron Ness Signs Entry Deal With Islanders!

Posted by on 16 Mar 2011 | Tagged as: Draft, Hot Headlines, News, Prospects, Signings, Sound Tigers

Reports were running rampant over the last several days about Islanders defensive draft prospect and Minnesota Golden Gopher Aaron Ness being close to signing his pro contract with the Islanders. His agent, in response to these reports – claimed the rumors as “irresponsible journalism” directed at both blogs and the mainstream media reports alike, in clear denial.

But the rumors just did not stop.

Aaron Ness on Draft Day 2008

Earlier today, Newsday’s Katie Strang said via Twitter that there was something up with the Islanders and Ness once again.

[blackbirdpie id=”48077192164417537″]

We all knew how a previous situation played out with the Golden Gophers and Kyle Okposo being lured to the Islanders – this was aired out in the media all over the place, with Garth Snow and Gopher’s head coach Don Lucia verbally sparring. After Ness was drafted and committed to Minnesota – Islanders fans raised an eye brow, and ear marked that page out of curiosity.

Aaron Ness skates for Minnesota Golden Gophers

Flash forward to today – and the rumors and speculation turned out to be correct. The Islanders announced around Noon today, that they had agreed to terms with Ness on his entry level contract and would be reporting to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Islanders AHL affiliate.

Per the press release and Islanders website:

The New York Islanders announced Wednesday that they have signed defenseman Aaron Ness to a three-year, entry-level contract. Ness will report to the Islanders’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and play out the remainder of the 2010-11 season on an Amateur Tryout Contract (ATO). The entry-level contract will commence in the upcoming 2011-12 season.

Ness, the Islanders second-round selection (40th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, signs after completing three seasons of collegiate hockey at the University of Minnesota. The 5’10”, 177-pound defenseman appeared in 35 games this season with the Golden Gophers, recording 14 points (two goals, 12 assists) and 41 penalty minutes. The 20-year-old blue-liner concludes his collegiate career with 111 games played and 43 points (six goals, 37 assists).

So, Bridgeport will get to see how Ness could help their defensive and offensive woes – the Islanders get to take a look at another one of their defensive prospects, all the while not even burning the first year of his contract in the process. Lastly, Ness will now be under the watchful eye of the Islanders and Bridgeport coaching staff which will help in his development.

Seems like a win, win, and WIN situation to me.


An Inactive Deadline For Islanders

Posted by on 01 Mar 2011 | Tagged as: Gameday, General, Sound Tigers, Trade Deadline, Trades

I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t get excited about the NHL Trade Deadline. I understand and respect the logistics of the day, the same can be said for the necessity of wheeling and dealing for some, as well as the uneasiness for the players involved.

I still remember quite clearly, spending an entire day from morning to night at Nassau Coliseum on deadline day – my first year blogging about the Islanders. The Penguins were in town, we watched their morning skate from section 206, and then watched as several players ran the stairs on either side of our perch. Two players stopped and asked us for updates – it was a bit unnerving to inform Colby Armstrong he was likely going to be traded. Crazy stuff. (Another crazy bit was Garth Snow extending Mike Comrie another year…but hey – live and learn).

As a fan of the Islanders, you never want to see players you have grown to know and respect moved. But, as it has been said elsewhere thousands of times – that’s the nature of the business. At the same time, you always get excited at the prospect of adding to your core players, as the hope is to ultimately improve your chances at winning the Stanley Cup.

I came into this years deadline with little to no expectations. Garth Snow had already moved what I considered (you know – I was playing armchair GM here) – the teams most tradeable assets in Dwayne Roloson and James Wisniewski. Sure, he could infuriate the the fanbase by trading a struggling prospect like Josh Bailey if he was blown away, but at most I figured he would trade a pending unrestricted free agent or two.

Throughout the day yesterday I was glued to my iPhone – checked Twitter, TSN, watched NHL Network via Slingplayer, checked the TSN Tradecentre app, message boards, blogs – the whole nine.

Seemed as if nothing was going on – and it stayed that way all day.

At one point, it appeared that an Anaheim deal for Zenon Konopka was imminent – but big Z himself headed off that rumor with TSN directly. Radek Martinek was also spoken about as well – but Garth was apparently asking too much for each of these players. Good thing too, Martinek is one of the teams only healthy veteran defensemen and Konopka is way too important for the locker room.

As it would turn out, the only player moved from the Islanders yesterday was Rob Schremp – who was placed on waivers late last week. He was claimed by the Atlanta Thrashers. In his place, Justin DiBenedetto was called up from the Sound Tigers and makes his debut tonight against the Washington Capitals.

Kudos to Garth Snow for not wanting to disrupt what chemistry he has in his current roster for the sake of adding a draft pick or two for the upcoming draft. In addition, I am happy he decided, once again – not to mortgage the future for the sake of going after a rental player. This team isn’t quite ready to go that route – the promise land is still a ways off on the horizon.

Instead Garth Snow will likely look to add a piece or two this coming July when the free agency period opens – which for the sake of the team, I hope to be a little different this year than in years past.

When the Islanders take on the Capitals tonight in Washington, D.C. – Nathan Lawson will be the starter and DiBenedetto will be paired with Josh Bailey and Blake Comeau. I highly doubt the Capitals will be the same team the Islanders saw this past weekend, I hope they bring their A game.

Islanders Defend Their Image, Score Nine

Posted by on 12 Feb 2011 | Tagged as: General, News, Sound Tigers

Of all nights I pick to skip an Islanders game!

I went out to dinner with my girlfriend and some friends of mine last night, so I couldn’t attend the game. I checked on the score via iPhone and much to my surprise the Islanders were up 4-0 after the first period. I got a little involved in dinner and talking…..

Then my phone rang.

It was my Uncle – telling me what I was missing, I could just tell it was something of a spectacle. 9 goals for, countless fights, ten game misconducts, another altercation involving Johnson – outright mayhem it seemed.

After dinner I got home and had to turn on MSG to catch the highlights…..and well, you know some lowlights too.

Where do we start? I’ve been trying to digest what I have seen today both online and on Twitter – so here goes.

A few weeks ago, the unofficial Islanders leader Zenon Konopka gave an earful to some writers in the stands watching their practice – he said “We’re no longer going to accept being called the doormats of the NHL”. I certainly don’t blame him for saying that – the Islanders have been heckled both on and off the ice by their fellow players, the press and even fans for far too long. Sometimes it takes that one spark, the one player with the gusto and personality (and most importantly the mouth) to begin a change. That change is upon us.

In my four and a half years writing about the Islanders, I have seen a lot. I’ve seen leaders come and go, even players you wouldn’t expect, rise up and have a voice. The team has had a high turnover, changing gears, direction, coaches – and often being unable to lure big ticket players for reasons we won’t go into now. For the first time in as long as I can remember, there is a fire and more importantly a DESIRE – to change the perception surrounding the team.

For all the lumps the Islanders have taken over the last few years, Garth Snow has sat back and taken those high draft picks, scooped up players via waivers and free agency – and most importantly, drafted very well. He’s now assembled a team that for the most part, is homegrown. A team born out of necessity, in the image of what a future contender will be. What happens is players begin to buy into the direction, to team mantra and protect one another.

All that starts with a leader. No knock on Doug Weight, he’s been that calming veteran player for the team the last few years (and well, 53 games or so) – but maybe he hasn’t been what this team has needed. I feel as though the Islanders have been waiting for a player like Konopka far too long. A player that isn’t afraid to scrap, to yap, to yell at the press – and the best part, align his team and get them to stand up for themselves. The Islanders have been like that kid who has always been picked on, waiting for their moment to change. Konopka is that kid’s big brother, who teaches them how to stand up and defend themselves.

Just this past week, the Islanders were incensed with the lack of calls and respect for their star players. They spoke of far too many instances of liberties being taken and should it continue; they would make a statement by showing the league they mean business. I guess what occurred last night is a testament to that.

The Game Heard Round the League

I’d like to preface this by saying the fireworks last night weren’t totally directed at the Penguins, Talbot, Johnson or any one particular player. This has been something in the making the last three or four seasons.

Having said that; the Islanders suffered some humiliating losses to the Penguins the last few weeks. They were shut out twice, DiPietro got his face broken and the Penguins just laughed at their expense – on camera, on the bench and in the press.

You mess with one of us, you mess with ALL of us. That is the new mentality the Islanders have taken on for the rest of the season; and my guess is the remainder of Konopka’s tenure with the club. For this, and because he came out and openly said he WANTS to be part of the Islanders future – I hope Garth Snow signs him to an extension. Zenon Konopka is everything you want from a veteran leader – oh, and he’s clutch with faceoffs too.

In a show of support for their oft-injured goaltender Rick DiPietro, and to Blake Comeau who is concussed do to a hit that was deemed clean by Pittsburgh’s Max Talbot – the Islanders made it look mean last night.

The boxscore is chock full of info – goals, assists, penalties, game misconducts, fights – it’s likely the longest and most complex boxscore the NHL has seen this season (aside from Montreal – Boston last week). It’s actually so long, you should just go read it for yourselves.

After that bit of light reading, I think we need to watch some highlights.

And some more:

I think Butch Goring said it best on the telecast, calling it “Old time hockey” – because that’s what it was. There will come some suspensions because of this, no doubt – but the Islanders will take them in stride this season, because they made their intentions known. “We will not be walked on, or laughed at anymore – you mess with one of us, you deal with all of us”.

The Islanders have been through a lot this season – namely injuries being the biggest obstacle to overcome. I find it silly that a team who’s collectively lost over 350 man games to injury and featured almost their entire AHL club in the NHL being called out and “congratulated” for defeating an injured Pittsburgh team. The Islanders scored nine goals on their NHL goaltenders….then beat up the rest.

Grabner, Moulson and Tavares all scored their 20th goals of the season, Micheal Haley had a goal and assist, and something like 400 penalty minutes in his season debut, Jesse Joensuu got on the board after some strong play in Montreal, Josh Bailey and Travis Hamonic mixed it up with some Penguins and had a few points each. I liked what I saw for the most part – the Islanders definitely showed the league they won’t be taken lightly any more.

Keep in mind the Islanders have one game against Pittsburgh remaining – that’s one I will certainly have marked on my calendar.

Islanders Acquire Al Montoya From Phoenix

Posted by on 09 Feb 2011 | Tagged as: News, Sound Tigers, Trades

Dealing with the injury to rookie netminder Kevin Poulin, who suffered a dislocated kneecap last night during warmpups, the Islanders suddenly found themselves in serious need of veteran goaltending.

The rookie who’s job it was to back up the rookie Poulin; Mikko Koskinen – was thrust unexpectedly into the Islanders lineup in relief of his fallen Bridgeport and Islanders teammate. Koskinen did not fair well though, allowing two goals on his first four shots and then allowing five before the night was over. The Islanders summoned Joel Martin from Bridgeport on an emergency basis and he arrived at the start of the third period of last nights game.

Earlier today, Islanders General Manager Garth Snow said he was actively searching for veteran goaltender help today – apparently finding Al Montoya.

The cost? A sixth round draft choice in 2011 went to the Phoenix Coyotoes in exchange for Montoya, who coincidentally was involved in a fight with Rick DiPietro during a preseason Rangers game a few seasons ago. The Islanders immediately assigned Montoya to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers where he will most likely wait for the Islanders to return home from Montreal.

Per the Islanders press release:

Montoya, 25, has an 11-8-0 record with a 3.19 goals against average (GAA) and a .891 save percentage (sv%) in 21 games this season with the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL. The Chicago, IL, native has played in five career NHL games, all with Phoenix, and posted a 3-1-0 record with a 2.08 GAA and a .925 sv%.

Originally selected by the New York Rangers in the first round, sixth overall, of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Montoya has played in 197 career AHL games with the Hartford Wolf Pack and San Antonio, compiling a 96-72-7 record with nine shutouts. Prior to his professional career, the 6’2”, 195-pound goalie enjoyed a three-year career at the University of Michigan. He led the nation in minutes played (2358:51) in his final season (2004-05) and finished his college career tied for the all-time best career save percentage (90.8) in U. Michigan history, third in GAA (2.36), third in shutouts (13), and fourth in wins (86).

Streak Over, Weight Coaches Power Play, Colliton Signed, Earthquakes

Posted by on 30 Nov 2010 | Tagged as: General, Hot Headlines, Signings, Sound Tigers

This is a really late recap – I know Michael, shame on you uh..I mean yourself.

Let’s chalk it up to a turkey hangover. Perhaps even a hockey hangover, because I attended several NHL games and played in three myself the last six days (in case anyone wants to know I had 4 goals and 2 assists). I am available for that PTO at any given point Garth……

Well, where do we begin – I got your attention with quite a headline, hopefully a few laughs too because I am in a good mood.

By now mostly everyone knows that the Islanders beat the New Jersey Devils on Friday last week 2-0, effectively ending their FOURTEEN game skid and extending Capuano’s point streak to three games. His record in the NHL is now 1-2-2. While he has the Islanders playing much better, they still need to work on their special teams – it’s funny that you can watch a teams struggle at even strength, then with a man advantage and then back to even strength over the season.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Maybe that’s where the Captain, Doug Weight comes in. It seems he was coaching the power play today during practice. With the Islanders putting up a big fat 0-fer the last 31 chances, I guess you can say anything could help – but that’s not saying Capuano is incapable of handling this himself – in fact, this was HIS idea.

Just read the paragraph below taken from the story on the Islanders website:

“I actually talked to Dougie and I thought it would be a good idea (to have him give the players some pointers),” Capuano said. “I saw him at the rink because he was getting some therapy and I picked his brain a little bit. I wanted to get a few ideas from him so we can build off it as well.”

Since Weight hasn’t played in the last four games, he’s watched from the press box. Sometimes watching games from above gives players a better view of the game and different areas the team could improve upon because they can see the play develop.

“He’s been around a long time,” Capuano said. “(He talked to the players about) what he sees up top during the game, puck movement, player movement not being so stagnant, getting pucks to the net, having a better net-front presence. These are things that we talk about, but sometimes a different voice is good too.”

To me, THAT is a quality that makes a great coach – he recognizes the value in a veteran player like Weight and sought out some advice on what could be done to implement change. Reading some of the message boards, many fans disagree and just chalk this up to another loony move the organization likes to make. Obviously I disagree here, and I guarantee you that this happens in varying situations throughout the league – ESPECIALLY when it involves young teams.

Jeremy Colliton Signed

Getty Imagages

With some trade activity in the Eastern Conference today, the Islanders announced the signing of Center Jeremy Colliton, whom they selected 58th overall in the 2003 draft – to a two way deal. In spot duty for the Islanders, Colliton has one goal, two assists and sixteen penalty minutes in 42 games. Down in Bridgeport, with the Islanders AHL affiliate Sound Tigers, Colliton has scored 134 points (50 goals, 84 assists) in 250 career games.

Although there are numerous injuries to the Islanders, this signing is likely a depth move. It keeps Colliton down in Bridgeport and gives the Islanders another option at center should they want to try a different look. I shouldn’t have to remind anyone that the Islanders have quite a few centers already however.

Speaking of centers, Josh Bailey was injured this weekend down in Bridgeport where he is on loan to the Sound Tigers. Apparently, the injury bug follows the Islanders players to their farm team. It’s a shame too, because reports from CT were good, as Bailey had been working hard and racking up some assists. All that is reported thus far, is that it is a strained pectoral muscle – and nothing more.

But wait, there is more – Bruno Gervais suffered a fractured cheekbone in his fight with Colin White on Friday. Surprised? Maybe you didn’t see the fight….

Wait, did you feel that? Too bad the earthquake today didn’t happen when Gervais was felled in two punches.

Scott Gordon Fired, Jack Capuano Moves Up

Posted by on 15 Nov 2010 | Tagged as: General, News, Sound Tigers

Much happier times for Scott GordonBruce Bennett - Getty Images

Over the course of these last ten losses the Islanders have been handed, you could feel the pressure building from the outside. With each step, each mistake and each time the hole got deeper and deeper it was only a matter of time before someone suffered. That person was Scott Gordon, as we found out this morning.

Ten losses in a row is unacceptable in professional sports, although it is a little easier to cope with in the NHL with the long season and parity in the league. Regardless, when teams are spiraling out of control management will do all it can to right the ship by shaking things up, more often than not that starts with a coaching change.

News first hit this morning via Twitter and then an announcement on the Islanders home page. Islanders GM Garth Snow was quoted as saying: “We believe we need a change in direction and, with the majority of the regular season still ahead of us, our goal remains to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs”. And followed with “Scott has made tremendous strides with our team the past three seasons and I look forward to continuing our relationship in an advisory capacity.”

Yes, although technically “fired”, he was reassigned to a front office gig.

Gone now are the days of “overspeed”, or are they? Jack Capuano has been coach of the Islanders AHL affiliate since the 05-06 season, but when Gordon was hired by the Islanders – the Sound Tigers adopted the same systems so the players would be familiar with the big clubs system once they were brought up. It was a good idea in theory, with just one problem – the system clearly had some flaws.

Arguments are already being made that switching coaches with the same players playing the same flawed system isn’t much of an answer or a change. What I want to point out however, is that Capuano could revert back to his systems utilized prior to switching in Bridgeport. I guess time will tell. If I could offer any advice for Wednesday – it would be that he allows them to go out there and play hockey.

Garth Snow Press Conference

So, I happen to be home sick today (I am always amazed that this stuff happens when I can barely breathe and have no voice…) and lucky for me I got to call into the press conference this morning.

When I signed in at 11am, there were already 31 other people on the call – with more coming before the 11:15 am start.

Garth Snow shot right out of the gate and began his press conference by saying their focus was on a big game coming up against Tampa on Wednesday. He wants a big win in front of the home fans. When asked why he chose Jack Capuano, he said “Capuano has experience with our organization and our players so he can come right in and feel comfortable so there is no “feeling out” period”.

Garth was then asked if he was disappointed it had come down to a coaching change and if the decision was a difficult one to make. Garth replied by saying “Yes, it was disapointing as Scott is an excellent coach and a good friend, it was an excellent experience these last three years. Sometimes, decisions are tough and you have to go with your gut”.

When asked what the biggest issues the team would have to overcome, Garth said “I think the biggest issue is confidence, we are looking to get that swagger back that we had early in the season”.

When asked if he had spoken to any available NHL coaches, Garth skirted the question and said he wasn’t really looking past Wednesday and reiterated he was comfortable with Capuano because of his familiarity with the team and players.

Jack Capuano cannot be expected to be brought in and work miracles, however from what I have seen of him down in Bridgeport he is a likeable and talented coach. As we have seen before, the Islanders have promoted their AHL coaches with mixed results (See Steve Stirling). For once, as a fan – I wish to see a coach turn the team around and give some stability to a franchise in desperate need of stability.

Islanders Make Cuts, Release Five

Posted by on 03 Oct 2010 | Tagged as: General, Preseason, Roster Moves, Sound Tigers

With training camp all but over, it’s time to trim the fat – an inevitable part of camp that many players likely do not look forward to. In my mind, (well my imagination anyway) – I picture Manny Legace or Dean McAmmond going to their locker after the split squad scrimmages last night and finding a big fat red card. What follows is a stream of obscenities or in other cases maybe even some tears.

In all seriousness, I am sure that’s not how things are handled, but it’s fun poking fun and referencing sports movies. No?

The Islanders today announced that they have cut several players from the roster and assigned them to their AHL affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers and have also released several players who were invited to camp on tryout agreements.

Forwards Justin DiBenedetto, Micheal Haley, Rob Hisey, Jesse Joensuu, Mark Katic, Tomas Marcinko, Rhett Rakhshani, David Ullstrom, and Jeremy Yablonski, along with defensemen Dylan Reese, Travis Hamonic and goaltender Mikko Koskinen have all been assigned to the Sound Tigers.

Veterans Dean McAmmond, Jed Ortmeyer, Anders Eriksson, Manny Legace and Krys Kolanos, who all accepted invitations on PTO contracts for Training Camp, all hit the unemployment line and will be looking for employment elsewhere in the league.

This round of cuts, follows a smaller cut earlier in the weekend when the Islanders placed defenseman Dustin Kohn on waivers, and assigned Robin Figren, Kevin Poulin, Anton Klementyev and Tony Romano to the Sound Tigers. Also hitting the unemployment line was Joel Martin, when he was released from his PTO – but he will be attending the Sound Tigers training camp.

It was a busy weekend, but the Islanders are that much closer to setting their final roster of 23 players – and they have until Wednesday to do so. The Islanders have five days of practice until their home opener next weekend the 9th when they take on the Dallas Stars

Rhett Rakhshani Agrees to Deal

Posted by on 01 Apr 2010 | Tagged as: Signings, Sound Tigers

I know this is yesterday’s news, but I just wanted to direct you all to the entry I had posted as it happened last night on Bleacher Report.

I just received word from the New York Islanders that they have come to terms with forward prospect Rhett Rakhshani.

Rakhshani, who just recently completed his collegiate hockey career with the University of Denver, has agreed to a three-year entry-level contract with the Islanders.

The 24-year-old Rakhshani, who was drafted 100th overall in the fourth round of the 2006 entry draft by the Islanders, played for four years for the Pioneers, finishing his career with 60 goals and 91 assists for 151 points in 156 games. Rakhshani averaged more than a point per game in his senior year—scoring 21 goals and 29 assists for 50 points in 41 games.

Head on over to Bleacher Report check out the rest of the article.

Brendan Witt on Waivers

Posted by on 03 Feb 2010 | Tagged as: News, Sound Tigers, Waivers

I cannot say that I saw this coming, at all.

Brendan Witt who has been tough as nails for the New York Islanders the last few years (including a run in with a Chevy Tahoe in Philly this season) has found himself activated from the IR and right onto the waiver wire.

Newsday’s Katie Strang has some great stuff on her blog today regarding this development.

In 42 games this season, Witt has 2 goals and 3 assists for 5 PTS and is a -18. Witt’s play this season has fallen off to what we have seen in recent years – likely attributed to the knee that has bothered him for the last few weeks (he also played through the injury for an unknown amount of time).

Witt has one year and $3-Million left on his contract and was apparently shopped around by Garth Snow for some time. Should Witt clear waivers, he will join Martin Biron in Bridgeport who was recently sent down for conditioning. When and if Witt is recalled, he will be exposed to re-entry waivers where a team could pick him back up at half the price of his contract.

According to Chris Botta of Islanderspointblank, the Islanders could eventually wind up trading Witt at his bargain basement cost of half price.

Something that bothers me a little, is what Snow explained to Katie Strang today:

Snow said the move is less of a knock on Witt’s play and more of an indication of how far along some of the Islanders young defenseman have come and the organization’s confidence in their play

As I said in the Nick Boynton post earlier this week, while the play of MacDonald has been outstanding, giving Dustin Kohn MORE time now isn’t the best option for this club. The team needs help and they need EXPERIENCED HELP.

What do I know though.

Odds are that we will see some moves made with our Islanders before the Olympic break, stay tuned.

Martin Biron Off to Bridgeport for Conditioning Stint

Posted by on 02 Feb 2010 | Tagged as: News, Sound Tigers

Breaking news folks!

Just received word that Islanders goaltender Martin Biron is en route to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League for a two game conditioning stint.

Biron, who dressed in the last two Islanders road games as a backup, last played December 27th in a loss against the Flyers.

Biron left the team in Florida today and will begin practicing with the Sound Tigers for their game on Friday against Springfield and Saturday against Manchester. Biron is expected to dress in both games.

Rick DiPietro’s Return!

Posted by on 05 Dec 2009 | Tagged as: Gameday, Injuries, News, Sound Tigers

Just posted a little something over at the Bleacher Report about Rick DiPietro’s return to the AHL tonight as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers take on the Springfield Falcons. I will be at the game tonight, trying to live blog and tweet DP’s progress during the game, so be sure to check it out.

Here is the post over at the Bleacher Report:

Cue the pomp and circumstance folks, there is an All-Star goaltender making his triumphant return to hockey and it starts tonight for Rick DiPietro.

DiPietro has missed all but five games in the 2008-2009 season and all of the current season due to numerous hip and knee injuries. His landmark contract aside, many feel DiPietro was rushed back into playing too quickly after a series of unrelated injuries and was unsurprisingly re-injured. Islanders management has really stepped up the protection of their franchise goaltender and given him ample time to heal and get the rehabilitation he needs to stay healthy. Tonight’s game for DiPietro will not be in Tampa Bay against the Lightning, where the Islanders are set to play—instead it will be in Bridgeport, Connecticut for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League as they face the Springfield Falcons.

DiPietro’s last appearance for Bridgeport came under similar conditions on a conditioning stint in 2003-2004 where he played two games and suffered two losses.

For those worried that throwing him into a game situation after missing 11 months of hockey is too much too soon, rest assured—he will play at most a half of game tonight and depending on how he has responded to practices and the game, will likely play out several road games for the Sound Tigers.

Sound Tigers beat writer Michael Fornabaio also reports that DiPietro will not wear the number 39 as he has for his NHL career, instead will wear the number 29 as he did throughout his playing time on the Sound Tigers.

Rick DiPietro’s eventual return to the New York Islanders also gives them some trade options, Martin Biron has not play exceptionally well this season, but is on a one year contract and 40 year old Dwayne Roloson has been rock solid for the Islanders and is in the first year of a two year contract. With DiPietro’s tainted injury history, it may prove to be a tough decision for Islanders GM Garth Snow. It’s certainly a good position to be in though, having three NHL goaltenders who are all capable of stealing games.

I will be up in Bridgeport tonight to watch Rick DiPietro’s return to hockey, so I should have some great follow up material tomorrow.

It’s going to be an exciting night, for sure!

AHL Depth Charges

Posted by on 09 Jul 2009 | Tagged as: News, Signings, Sound Tigers

You know how we do things here at Islesblogger – we like to play with our titles to poke-fun point out the obvious. This case is no different, referencing the lack of free agent signings by our New York Islanders. The blockbuster depth signings that this team has made over the last few days has certainly bolstered one area – the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL.

Here is a list whom they picked up over the last few days:

Center Greg Moore, left wing Matt Moulson, right wing Greg Mauldin and defenseman Mark Flood, Goaltender Scott Munroe, left wing Jeremy Reich and defenseman Brett Westgarth. All seven players were signed to one year two way contracts.

Some background on each player, as found on the Islanders Website followed by my own brief opinion or thoughts:

Greg Moore

Greg MooreMoore played within the New York Rangers’ organization the past four years, skating in a total of six games for the big club during the 2007-08 season. While playing for the Rangers’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack, the 6’1, 210 pound center compiled 58 goals and 74 assists for 132 points in 224 games during his four seasons. The native of Lisbon, Maine, was selected to represent the Wolf Pack in the 2008 AHL All-Star Classic game for PlanetUSA. Moore is a graduate of the University of Maine where he played four years, accumulating 66 goals and 41 assists for 107 points with the Black Bears. In his senior year, Moore led Maine in scoring with 45 points (28 goals and 17 assists). He was originally drafted by the Calgary Flames in the 2003 National Hockey League Entry Draft where he was selected 143rd overall in the fifth round.

Islesblogger’s take

Key words, product of Maine – we know how Garth Snow loves to take from familiar areas, but there could a diamond in the rough there with Moore. Firstly, Moore has SIZE – 6’1″ and 210 lbs makes the current crop of centermen with the Islanders look a bit small. Skill wise, Moore seems to have put up decent numbers in College and in the Minors – so it’s a bit of a crap shoot to expect him to do anything more then get his cup of coffee with the Islanders should dare I say it, injuries arise.

Matt Moulson

Matt Moulson Moulson has totaled six goals and four assists for 10 points in 29 games with the Los Angeles Kings during the last three seasons. A native of North York, ON, Moulson played the majority of his time in the Kings’ organization with the team’s AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs, where he tallied 74 goals and 86 assists for 160 points in 188 games. Prior to his professional career, Moulson attended Cornell University, where he graduated in 2006 after accumulating 138 points (71 goals and 67 assists). Moulson led Cornell in scoring his sophomore, junior and senior years. He was originally a draft choice of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft where he was chosen in the ninth round, 263rd overall.

Islesblogger’s take

I get nervous when I read how players had scoring prowess in college and juniors – I really do. Here we have a player who lead his college team in scoring and then came to the AHL and put up just under a point a game. Taken in the ninth round in 2003, Moulson is an older player who has very little NHL experience, but could be a potential surprise – much like Tambellini (any coincidence with the Kings? Hmmmmm). Worth a shot checking him out for a season, another decent depth player for Bridgeport.

Greg Mauldin

Greg Mauldin Mauldin has spent the past two seasons with the Binghamton Senators, AHL affiliate of the Ottawa Senators. In 151 games with Binghamton, Mauldin scored 39 goals and 45 assists for 84 points. The 5’11, 197 pound left-wing was selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets, 199th overall in the seventh round of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. He was born in Holliston, Mass., where he went on to play college hockey at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst. Mauldin played three years for the Minutemen, scoring 94 points (48 goals and 46 assists) in 98 games. At the completion of his junior year, Mauldin skated in six games for the Blue Jackets. He played the following two years for the organization’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, recording 19 goals and 37 assists for 56 points in 122 games. Mauldin was traded to the Houston Aeros at the end of the 2005-06 season, playing in 11 regular season games and scoring 4 points (1 goal and three assists).

Islesblogger’s take

Key words again – Holliston, Massachusetts – Garth sure does like those Mass natives. This is a player whom is hard to judge just by reading into his stats. Obviously the team sees something there by way of scouting, he doesn’t exactly scream out goalscoring machine – but could play well in a role player situation. However, being listed at 5’11” and 197lbs sort of limits what type of role he can actually fit in and play. More Bridgeport depth.

Mark Flood

Mark Flood Flood, a native of Charlottetown, PEI, has played for the Albany River Rats, AHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes, the past three seasons, racking up 63 points (19 goals and 44 assists). The 6’1, 195 pound defensemen began his pro career with Syracuse in the 2005-06 season. He spent the next two seasons with the Crunch, scoring two goals and two assists in 17 games. Flood also saw time with the Dayton Bombers of the ECHL during the 2005-06 season where he played in 50 games and totaled 25 points (11 goals and 14 assists). Prior to his pro career, Flood skated four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League with the Peterborough Petes scoring a total of 25 goals and 94 assists for 119 points in 253 games. Flood was selected in round six of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens, 188th overall.

Islesblogger’s take

Your typical puck moving defenseman, Flood is listed at 6’1″ and 195lbs – he is said to possess a heavy right handed shot and can pot you a few goals on the power play. As you can see above, Flood has yet to really be given his big break in the NHL. With our New York Islanders and a constant revolving cast of misfits players, we know it will only be a matter of time until his services are called upon. With the way Garth snow and the scouts have picked defensemen the last few years – this one seems like it could have a low risk – high reward type of impact in my eyes.

Scott Munroe

Scott Munroe Munroe, an undrafted goalie from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, has been a part of the Philadelphia Flyers organization for the past four seasons. He received his first call-up to the National Hockey League last year with the Flyers. The 27-year-old net-minder posted a career year last season with a record of 31-19-0-4, a save percentage of .926 and four shutouts. Munroe led the Phantoms to the Calder Cup Playoffs in each of the past two seasons. During the 2008 Calder Cup Playoffs, Munroe made 65 saves in a five overtime contest against the Albany River Rats to earn the victory in the longest game in American Hockey League history.

Islesblogger’s take

Another goalie? The Islanders have been doing their best to restock a much needed position in the organization. With the status of Rick DiPietro being up in the air (as if it ever changes around here), the Islanders selected two goaltenders at the 2009 entry draft last week and have now signed the Phantom’s Calder Cup specialist. Look for Munroe to maybe get a spot call on backup duty here and there, but mainly vie for a position down in Bridgeport now that Peter Mannino, Yann Danis and Joey MacDonald have not been brought back this season.

Jeremy Reich

Jermey Reich Reich has played in a total of 99 NHL games scoring two goals and four assists while compiling 161 penalty minutes. The Craik, Saskatchewan, native has been a part of the Boston Bruins organization for the past three years and played under Islanders head coach Scott Gordon his first two seasons with the team’s AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins. Last season, the 6’1, 196 pound left wing, served as the team captain of Providence, setting single-season career high numbers of 21 goals and 13 assists for 34 points in 76 games. Reich was originally drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round (39th overall) of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft.

Islesblogger’s take

You all asked for muscle, you got it – just not in the form you were expecting. Reich is another mid-sized enforcer poached from a familiar territory – the Providence Bruins. Scott Gordon must have been chomping at the bit to get this player, as you can see from his picture and some stats above the boy LOVES to scrap. He appears to be a leader and has quite a few NHL games under his belt at 99. I would look to him to play the role played by Nate Thompson and Joel Rechlicz last season and get the nod when there is a known need for enforcement. With a familiarity of the player by the head coach of the parent club – I wouldn’t be surprised if Gordon almost doesn’t give him a spot right out of camp.

Brett Westgarth

Brett Westgarth Westgarth played the last three seasons in the AHL. Last year, the 6’2, 215 pound defenseman played for the Worcester Sharks, AHL affiliate of the San Jose Sharks, scoring nine points (2 goals and 7 assists) while totaling 137 penalty minutes. Westgarth, a native of Amhertsburg, ON, is a Princeton University graduate who skated for the Tigers from 2002-2007 where he compiled four goals and 20 assists for 24 points.

Islesblogger’s take

Finally, more of what we DO NOT HAVE, a relatively decent size defensive prospect who could potentially take the role of a shutdown man (ala Brendan Witt). Obviously Westgarth isn’t known for his puck moving ability and with 137 penalty minutes – clearly plays his game a bit differently. Kudos to the scouting staff for finally figuring out that every defenseman we pick doesn’t have to have a strong offensive game. Of all the moves, I think taking a chance on a defenseman you think fits a DIFFERENT type of need in the position is a step in the right direction. If it doesn’t work out, he is on a one year deal – you walk away.

In closing, the Islanders have picked up a bevy of prospects for really nothing – which is a bit risky only in you never really know what you will get when you roll the dice. Picking up free agent players like this is really no different then drafting in a sense – it takes good scouting and research to find that “diamond in the rough” player who will be serviceable not only for your farm team, but eventually your NHL club.

For now, those whom were expecting the Islanders to land some marquee free agents or a player along the lines of Mark Streit last year, you will have to wait a few more days – or take solace in knowing our current number one goaltender is Dwayne Roloson. At least he finished last season with a winning record, that’s a plus right there folks.

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