Monday, July 21, 2008

Nielsen Locked In

The Islanders announced on Monday that they have locked center Frans Nielsen into a 4-year deal worth $2.1 million or $525K per year. The announcement coincides with a string of new extensions that indeed seem to imply that the Isles are dedicated to youth. Last week the team signed contract extensions with Bergenheim, Tambellini, Colliton and Walter. Locking in these core young players to relatively low impact contracts means the team has more money in the future to pursue high end free agents as the team becomes more competitive or so one might imagine.

The 24-year old Nielsen, the first Danish national to play in the NHL (not to be confused with the first Danish born player, defenseman Poul Popiel), has played in 31 games over the last 2 seasons notching 3 G and 2 A for 5 points. Nielsen has a career -1 rating and 1 GWG with a 9.1% scoring rate. We look forward to seeing Frans wearing the Orange and Blue for years to come.

On a side note, you have to love the fact that the Isles are open about contract terms. It has become cliché to read time and again that a team "per team policy" has not released the terms of contracts. I applaud the Islanders for not falling into that trap. Real hockey fans do not judge teams for the reasonable price tags often associated with the signings of "everyday" players. What makes us upset is the ridiculous contracts that turn heads and make us wonder WHY? How come I have to wait a week to find out the Vancouver Canucks are paying Rob Davison $560K for next season but I know instantly that Atlanta is paying Ron Hainsey the GDP of Lesotho? For the sake of reporting the NHL might want to make the contract info a little more carte blanche and a little less smoke and mirrors.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How Kyle Spends His Summer

While it was a typical steamy July day outside, it was cool and relaxed inside today at Iceworks in Syosset, NY as Okposo Net visited Islanders prospect camp. It was a chance for us to get our first up close and personal looks at players like (2008 1st rounder) Josh Bailey, Jesse Joensuu, Tomas Marcinko, and Blake Kessel, but we also wanted to check in with Kyle and see what he's been up to.

As it turns out, Kyle is just like you and me (well, without an NHL contract, mind you). He's been spending his free time with friends, playing golf, and generally relaxing (no mention if that includes hours of PS3 time). He assured me that it's not all fun in the sun, though, as he has been working hard to improve his skills at the University of Minnesota's hockey facilities. He mentioned his quickness and speed as areas that he's focusing on (even though he looked plenty quick and agile to our untrained eyes as he darted across the ice in a white #21 sweater during the scrimmage). Improving his "first step" burst is an important factor to him in upgrading his game in order to excel at an NHL pace. With the uncertainty that currently surrounds this team, I suppose all he can do is make sure that he's in the best possible shape and preparedness come what may this season.

Other than the scrimmage and our brief chat, it was a pretty laid back and fan-friendly atmosphere, as these events usually are. Kyle and many other players took time to informally sign autographs, answer a few questions, and take pictures with those who wished. I noticed a few youngsters even came away with pucks, which goes farther than you can imagine in building player-fan relations. It's good to see the Isles do right by their loyal fans who have stayed with them through, frankly, a lot of rough road.

Before we head out, a few loose ends that didn't quite make their own blog entries:

Thanks to the ever-resourceful Greg Logan of Newsday, we recently learned that Sean Bergenheim and Jeff Tambellini re-upped with the Islanders. Please be sure to check out Greg's blog when you're done here.

Also, we meant to ask this at the end of last season, but we finally asked Kyle which rivalry, Islanders-Rangers or Gophers-Badgers, was more intense for him to take part in. He gave the slight nod to Isles-Rags, but acknowledged that the crowds at UW's Kohl Center can get pretty intense too.

Remember, keep checking this page as we learn who will lead the Islanders in 2008-2009 and for more interesting Kyle tidbits. As always, thanks for reading.

Monday, July 14, 2008

BREAKING: Nolan Out as Coach

Greg Logan breaks the story a little more than an hour ago. Ted Nolan is no longer Islanders head coach, as Garth Snow and Nolan "agree to part ways". The article mentions nothing about a buyout, so it would appear that since Nolan still needs to be paid for the final year of his contract, this was essentially a firing by Snow.

I'm sure Ken will be in with more details and opinion later today; perhaps I will expound more later when I have the time. Early candidates according to Logan include John Tortorella, Bob Hartley and Paul Maurice; Bryan Trottier is not considered to be a candidate as of right now.

Never a dull moment with this franchise.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Free agency: Isles sign Weight

TSN is reporting that the Islanders have signed Doug Weight to a one-year deal worth $1.75 million. Weight had been long rumored to be headed to the Isles in the offseason, and it seems the rumor was true.

Overall, the signing will eventually be measured in what Weight is able to teach the young Islanders. As long as Weight does not restrict the youth movement and takes an active role in helping shape the future, the signing should work out OK. Plus, the contract is fairly unobtrusive - it helps the Isles to get to the salary floor and does not lock them in for the 2009-10 season.

In terms of a signing that will propel the Isles into playoff contention - not likely.

This has been Breaking News from Okposo Net. Sorry we don't have a cool siren or anything.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Free agency: Isles sign Streit

After spending the whole day watching other teams load up, finally a blurb came across the free agency wire:

8:06 PM: New York Islanders sign defenseman Mark Streit to a five-year contract worth $20.5 million.

Not a bad opening salvo from Garth Snow, who had gone on record as saying that the Islanders were "not going to be very active" in the free agency market.

We like the move. Streit is not too old (30), is a power play quarterback that this team can sorely use, and his stats are pretty solid.

It's sensible moves like this that will speed along the rebuilding process.