Waiting Game Begins as Isles look for Missing Pieces
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Monday, July 2, 2007

The following is taken from NY Sports Day senior writer Patrick Hickey Jr.’s New York Islanders Blog on TheDriveForFive.com.

Well, that was interesting.

Ryan Smyth, Tom Poti, Viktor Kozlov, Jason Blake and Richard Zednik…gone.

Jon Sim… welcome to the Island.

Your toughness and grit will help the Isles and you may even be able to score more than the 17 goals you did last season, but something more needs to be done before I’m happy about the progress of this team.

Rather than flip out like the dozens of other Islander fans on the message boards that have either renounced their fan status or moaned about their season tickets being worthless, I’m going to be brutally honest and assess what was done yesterday.

Obviously, he with the most money doesn’t win.

Wang offered both Scott Hannan and Ryan Smyth more dough and instead they both went to Colorado. Not good signs if you’re the owner of this team that wishes to maintain a winning pedigree. While Hannan had no intention of leaving the Western conference, Smyth’s decision to leave kind of sends a shiver down my spine. While conference rivals like the Rangers and Devils managed to stock pile their teams, the Isles right now look like their near the bottom of the conference offensively. If they want to challenge for a playoff spot, something needs to get done and soon at that.

While I have the utmost confidence in our defense, with up and coming guys like Campoli and Gervais being ready to have more minutes in clutch situations and feel that Martinek, Bergeron and Witt are steady D-men, I still feel we still need one more experienced guy back there [maybe Andy Sutton, Sheldon Souray or Teppo Numminen?] before I can be completely comfortable with our defensive situation.

Again, while it would have been nice to pick up a guy like Brian Rafalski or Mathieu Schneider, there are still plenty of unrestricted free agents out there the Isles can snatch up that fit into what Ted Nolan is trying to do with this team. Who you ask? For all you upset and miserable Isles fans out there that don’t have the same unshakable patience [maybe my worst enemy] as I do, here are just of few.

I’ve already mentioned Sutton, Souray and Numminen, but there’s also Roman Hamrlik, Brad Ference, Brad Stuart, Patrice Brisebois, Bryan Berard, Aaron Miller, Brad Lukowich, Sandis Ozolinsh, Karel Rachunek, Josef Melichar, Brent Sopel, Janne Ninimaa, Jon Klemm and that’s just the unrestricted guys. Like I said, I’m not worried about the defense and as far as I’m concerned, the Isles have one of the best goaltending tandems in the league.

With that being said, right now however, the Isles also need a primary scorer worse than a hippy needs his daily fix of Bob Dylan and marijuana.

Rather than go out and sign someone older that is going to give us 30 goals for two seasons and then leave, I think the Isles should take their chances on some guys in the need of a change of scenery that can be bought cheaper than others. Guys like Jeff Friesen, Mike Peca [do you give him another shot?] Kyle Calder [I think he’d be a great fit here] Nils Ekman, Ville Nieminen [who’s never developed into the offensive player many thought he’d be, but could still score a dozen goals and be a solid two-way player] Denis Arkhipov, and Ladislav Nagy, who looked absolutely out of place with Dallas last season immediately come to mind and I can see all of these guys contributing somewhere between 35- 45 points or more on the Isles.

Also, there are a host of other intriguing possibilities, such as Mike Comrie, who the Isles were interested in during the season, Martin Gelinas, Darren McCarty, Brendan Shanahan, Todd Bertuzzi, Jeff O’Neill, Bryan Smolinski and Slava Kozlov, who could all ad the scoring depth the Isles need in order to be competitive.

Having not even mentioned the restricted free agents, it’s obvious that things still have room to change, Isles fans just need to be patient.

Within the next few weeks, I guarantee the Isles make some moves and this team starts to take shape more. They’ve done too many things right the past few months to let this team go down the drain for next season.

We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully Isles fans won’t have to play the waiting game for too long, because chances are many of these guys won’t be on the market for too long.