Anyone who has watched Islander games all season have seen Peter Laviolette ride his top four defenders to big minutes. With Roman Hamrlik sidelined until likely after the Olympics and Radek Martinek out for the season, it has now become a two-man show on defense with Kenny Jonsson and Adrian Aucoin seemingly never off the ice for long, even on nights the Isles dress seven defenders. How long can this continue ?
With that in mind the Islanders added three forwards this week and are signed for the remainder of the season. Kip Miller (brother of asst coach Kelly Miller) becomes an Islander for a record third time, Ted Donato begins his second stint and Jim Cummins makes his Islander debut.
The only price for this tri–fecta is Dave Roche, who was leading the SoundTigers in scoring and was assigned to the Mighty Ducks AHL affiliate in Cincinnati in the Cummins deal.
Kip Miller, 32, playing center for the Grand Rapid Griffiths of the Ahl. Was the leading scorer in the league with 21 goals and 56 points in 41 games. If Miller is sent down he must play in Grand Rapids because they maintain his AHL rights.
Ted Donato, 33, playing left wing for the Manchester Monarchs of the Ahl. Had 13 goals and 32 points in 25 games and was the teams leading scorer.
Jim Cummins, 31, playing right wing for the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks of the Ahl. Is a natural right wing who is being brought in to replace Steve Webb. Cummins had five goals and 11 points with Anaheim last season before losing his role to Kevin Sawyer. Is a good defensive forward but is not aggressive on a consistent basis and has played for seven teams over his first ten seasons.
Miller cannot be assigned to Bridgeport, he is going to remain an Islander. Donato will see time on the Islanders forward lines, but moving these players off their natural positions with a jump to the NHL is likely going to hurt their ability to contribute in a faster game and has been their undoing in the past.
Cummins will see Webb’s time as a fourth line right wing and is an easy fit, only question is would Roche and his team leading offensive numbers in Bridgeport be a better alternative because Roche has never been shy about fighting in the past and is five years younger than Cummins ? If Mark Parrish is day to day with a rib injury someone has to step into that role also.
What’s Next ?
Interesting the organization did not try and sign Gord Murphy, who was willing to take a try-out contract with Boston. Or signing a veteran defender in the AHL, who has a little background ? Sergei Krivokrasov is a right-wing who lost his game in Minnesota’s system and was placed on waivers by the Ducks, what makes him interesting is his goal-scoring and energy when placed in the right situation as he was with Nashville. He is also only 27 and has reasonable contract.
Seven defenders are dressing for most games with Alexei Yashin double shifting, tonight that should change. Cairns and Sutton have been the second pairing, with Tarnstrom getting time with Ray Schultz and Marko Kiprusoff ?
With all these forwards on the roster, who is the odd-player out ? Someone who will bring back some help in a trade for a defender, to get quality you have to trade quality.
Lindgren: Isles are making a lot of noise to play him more but now he is seeing time at left wing, not his natural position of center. If he cannot adjust to right wing, why would he adjust to left wing ? How do you showcase a player who has two goals and a history of shoulder injuries ? Bet on teams saying thanks but no thanks.
Scatchard: It’s been a bad season, but there is some time left and he had a good finish last year. He is still at the age where his best is in front of him and showed a lot the previous two years. This is a player teams are going to ask for in a trade. He also has size and that is something the Isles cannot afford to give away because they are lacking in that dept. Has not been on the pk often with Blake, Peca, Lapointe and Bates doing as well as they have.
Lapointe: Anyone notice Kvasha take his spot killing penalties a few times ? That reduces Claude to a fourth line player and not what he was intended to be when he was signed to a 1.2 mil deal that lasts thru next season. This is the kind of player you need to win a championship because he brings those intangibles. Lapointe plays like he is 6′ 5 and has heart but considering the Isles lack of size with Bates and Blake and now Kip Miller how many smaller players can you dress with a finesse defense ? He may be the best alternative that other teams look for in a trade. Also wins big face offs and is a player you want on the ice to hold a lead, is a leader in every sense and a big gamble to trade.
Blake: The contract extension that locked him up over the summer will likely hold teams back. He has picked up his scoring lately and the Isles need that with his pk.
Yashin and Parrish were named to the all-star teams that will compete in Los Angeles, what is interesting is that many of the players good enough to represent their country in Salt Lake were not even named to the all-star game with the NHL making the statement that everyone named must be at the games unless they are injured. Seems like Joe Thornton and Mark Parrish got the NHL door-prize and that the supposed stars picked to represent their country (Mike York, Mike Richter, Michael Peca, Kenny Jonsson) should all be in Los Angeles also.
How Shawn Bates, Chris Osgood and Adrian Aucoin are not all-stars is another mystery.