The UFA market is far from fantastic. However, the cap bubble has burst – and will remain so for the next few years. This has caused teams to plan for the future and not be as generous with fringe players in the free market. Nobody is really willing to pay for these players beyond one year, if at all… preferring to wait until camp. This is why the UFA market has turned into UFA limbo for many of those players.
This might be the kind of situation that Garth Snow is waiting for to put in a line to see if someone will bite at a value cost on a short term deal.
Most of their young players before moving up to the NHL get some tastes of the big club. In the case of Ryan Pulock – this is a problem. He hasn’t had any. This tells me that his “taste” is more likely to come this year.
Moreover, the Isles seem to recognize that their defensive depth is a bit of a weakness. A depth and durability in their puck moving defensemen would have helped immensely in the playoffs.
This isn’t a rising team anymore. This is a 101pt team who is expected to be better this year.
A team needs to leave room for kids, but also needs to be smart about the reality here. There is no guarantee those kids are ready. Defenseman development takes time. Pulock could easily require another year of AHL time.
The Isles still need a puck mover, and Scott Mayfield is NOT that guy.
A one-year deal to some vet puck mover… like a Christian Ehrhoff (for example) could be in the cards.
Ehrhoff had a very poor year in Pittsburgh. His time is Buffalo was far from his signing expectation. However, he IS a veteran puck mover with potential upside. He might be the EXACT thing the Isles need in the 3rd pair just like they had with Lubomir Visnovsky. Ehrhoff was solid in San Jose and Vancouver in a more limited role.
If not Ehrhoff, there are others out there who might intrigue in the puck moving category:
Cody Franson is an analytical boon. Marek Zidlicky is 38 but still capable. Andrej Meszaros might work.
So keep an eye out because the Islanders are the kind of team who might see a good value and try to take advantage of this market. Tepid waters can still reap a reward for the patient fisherman. Something tells me that Garth Snow has a fresh can of worms.