With all the complaining fans do about the Islanders (all warranted) not making the big splash or spending money let me tell you they just hit a homerun in my opinion. Garth Snow, for all the negativity I put towards him made two great signings, signing Nikolai Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski to four year deals worth $16.75 and $20 million respectfully. According to Arthur Staple, both players played for new assistant coach Greg Cronin in Toronto.
Signing both players adds an instant upgrade all throughout the line-up. However, the Islanders have a log jam on their roster and players need to be moved. Who those players might be no one knows but Garth Snow, but I can tell you one thing this team has been completely redone.
During his time with the Washington Capitals, Mikhail Grabovski put up decent numbers. He had 13 goals and 22 assists for 35 points in 58 games. His best years were when he played with the Maple Leafs where he would score 29 goals twice. He inevitably will take over the second line center position moving Nielsen to the third line barring any trades.
Nikolai Kuleman is another gifted player. He has the ability to produce 15-20 goals a season when he plays a full season under the right coach. Is Capuano the right coach…time will tell. In 70 games this past season with the Leafs he put up nine goals and 11 assists for 20 points. In theory he would slide in next to Tavares on the first line or on the second line and Brock Nelson will take that honor of being next to Tavares.
As someone on Twitter pointed out Kulemin and Grabovski were line-mates in Toronto and thrived together and should they be paired together on the Island, hopefully they find that magic and bring that dynamic style of play and lead help lead the Islanders back to the playoffs.
Now that the Islanders have shored up the problem of scoring and goaltending the focus now shifts to the defense which will likely come via a trade. They now have an abundance of players on the roster and the only problem is who gets moved? Nielsen? Strome? Bailey? Grabner? Who and who would you trade them for.
Players will be traded this off-season and the team will continue to be reshaped as this season is win now and no looking back…so we hope!
Garth Snow has redeemed himself today, but I will hold full judgment until September.
Next up…a trade for a top four defenseman…