Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tavares Extension and Rookies to Watch

I had been waiting until something official was announced, but it seems that whispers of a long term extension for center John Tavares are true. TSN is reporting the contract as a 6-year, $33 million deal. That's quite an early birthday present from Garth Snow. Tavares will turn 21 years old next Tuesday (September 20th).

I have no idea what John's beverage of choice is, but I imagine he'll be able to afford plenty of it now.

Garth Snow has done an excellent job of acquiring and keeping his young core of players on Long Island. This is another feather in his cap. In the last several months he has locked Kyle Okposo, Michael Grabner, Matt Moulson, and now Tavares in to long term deals. Well done, Garth.

I didn't think much of it at the time, but yesterday I noticed the players' dressing room at Nassau Coliseum had been freshly painted. Over the door sit images of 4 Stanley Cups and the word COMMITMENT beneath.

Mr. Snow has certainly taken the word to heart and put his trust in what he has assembled.

Speaking of assembling a championship caliber team, the pieces of future Islanders teams were on display the last two nights.

The Islanders held two rookie games against Boston's rookies, and while the first game didn't go so well for the young Isles, Tuesday night's showing was much better. They won 7-2, and a few players really shined.

Without too much analysis, here are some young guys who impressed me:

Nino Niederreiter - He is going to make the Islanders out of training camp. After a decent 9 game look last season, he is poised for a full time role in the NHL. Am I crazy to think he might even have a big impact at the NHL level? Could he score 20 goals? I wouldn't rule it out.

Ryan Strome - The early returns have it looking like Garth and company have struck draft day gold. He's a long shot to make the Islanders right now, but I wouldn't rule out a nine game trial with the big club at some point this season. He put up 106 points in the OHL last year. Can he improve upon it?

Casey Cizikas - A center taken in the 2009 entry draft. He's not John Tavares, but who is? He played a really nice two games, scored some goals, and didn't shy away from contact.

David Ullstrom - Another center that looked pretty good to me. The young Swede wearing the 41 sweater scored 41 points (17-24-41) at Bridgeport last season.

Tyler McNeely - The Northeastern University product took me by surprise this week. I would imagine he'll see a lot of playing time at Bridgeport (AHL) this coming season after a short 10 game stint there last year.

Anders Nilsson - The Isles have a logjam at goal, but the large Swede has been working with goalie guru Sudarshan "Sudsie" Maharaj and looked really solid in the win. He squared up nicely against Boston's shots and made some nice saves when his team was on a 5-on-3 penalty kill.

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