Is the Free Agent Frenzy (FAF) over, just three days after its frenetic John Tavares opener?
If nothing else, JT’s headline-grabber has left a fallout of fan fury; at least in Islanders Country but that will diminish along with the free agent list.
Still, there’s more FAF ahead but with diminishing returns and some compelling characters to consider.
The likes of defenseman Calvin (I Block Shots) de Haan, right wing Patrick (The Marvelous) Maroon and goalie Robin Lehner remain available; all worthy of consideration.
(Editor’s Note: The Islanders signed Robin Lehner to a one-year contract)
Looking for Cup-winners; try defenseman Brooks (Babbling) Orpik, fresh from his Capital Gains. If you want to get picky you can say that Brooks is beat-up after years of warhorse hockey. But he’s got winner all over him.
Any of the above could inspire a double-take from Isles boss Lou Lamoriello.
No question, Lamoriello still must fortify his blue line corps; not to mention a back-up — or for-up — in goal where Thomas (Don’t Forget Me) Greiss remains the club’s lone experienced puck-stopper.
(Just A Thought Department: Remember, Lou was the chap who dealt for Cory Schneider, importing him from Vancouver. With Keith Kinkaid, looking very much like New Jersey’s numero uno in goal, Schneider could be available.)
Meanwhile, a healthy deHaan would be a blue line boost for the Brooklyn-Uniondalers but Cal, a commendable shot-blocker, is coming off a shoulder injury that removed him from most of the 2017-18 season. Put Cal in the “Iffy” category.
Ditto for the tempestuous Lehner — a onetime Calder Cup-winner with the Binghamton Senators — whose flashes of greatness were well-dimmed this past campaign in Buffalo.
Just 26 years-old, Lehner has “sleeper” qualities and could thrive in a revitalized Isles environment. Trouble is that Robin’s arithmetic is unimpressive. A .908 save percentage and 3.01 goals against average with the Sabres could give Lou pause.
Acquired from Edmonton at the trade deadline this past February, Maroon was impactful during New Jersey’s successful playoff drive. Having turned 30, Patrick might be worth a Devils re-visit.
A couple of still-young potential prodigies out there grab my attention, especially ex-Ranger Anthony Duclair, very reminiscent of Josh Ho-Sang; lots of talent but can’t seem to get it together. Ah, but there’s still time.
And if that doesn’t remind you of once top-overall pick Nail Yakupov, then try another hammer.
As for deals, the Blockbuster-In-Waiting remains Ottawa’s spectacular Erik (C’mon, Already) Karlsson on the assumption — by just about everyone — that Senators G.M. Pierre Dorion must pasteurize his Milquetoast franchise.
Apart from the well-chronicled Tale of Tavares, there have been a few arresting moves. I mean, who could figure James (Piling Up Airline Miles) Neal forsaking the fortunes of Vegas for a five-year deal in Cowboyland — of all places — Calgary?
But let’s not minimize the effectiveness of Flames GM Brad Treliving who also roped in center Elias Lindholm and defenseman Noah Hanifin from Carolina in exchange for Dougie Hamilton, Adam Fox (NCAA) and Michael Ferland, a left wing.
The Maven likes what the Blues have been doing, especially nabbing center Ryan O’Reilly in a deal with Buffalo.
Further fishing around, Blues GM Doug Armstrong also hooked free agent center Tyler (Don’t Call Me Bozo) Bozak from Toronto, goalie Chad (Boy, Do I Get Around) Johnson and ex-Vegas sharpshooter David Perron.
Here are The Maven’s thought-twisters involving other prominent puck-chasers.
RYAN MCDONAGH: The not-so-old ex-Ranger still has some good hockey in him but for the kind of dough he’s getting — and long-term — it’s a good thing that the Lightning vault is full of dough.
JAMES VAN RIEMSDYK: The Jersey Boy comes home to his old digs and it looks to me like he’ll team up with tough Wayne Simmonds to give Philly a stake — if not a steak — at a playoff berth. As they say on Broad Street, “Not too cheesy!”
MATT CULLEN: Hustlers who have won three Cups — two in Pitt — always get another gig. Penguins G.M. Jim Rutherford did well to bring Mad Cap Matty back to Marioland (not to be confused with Maryland).
CAM WARD: I kid you not, this Cam can still ward off pucks. He should be a good alternate to Corey Crawford.
CARTER HUTTON: Better than Ward, in my book, Hutton winds up in a rapidly rebuilding Sabres outfit, the ex-Blue was the best puck-stopper available. Nice going. Buffalo!
RILEY NASH: The Bruins loss is the Blue Jackets gain. My buddy, John Tortorella should be laughing now that he has a gung-ho forward who was able to replace Patrice Bergeron when the latter was injured this past season in Beantown.
OLIVER EKMAN-LARSSON: This guy has been in Arizona almost as long as the Gila monsters. And now, he’s going to be hanging out as a Coyote even longer. My buddy, Danny Rios-Farrell, says, “Oliver’s commitment should bring a rush of renewed enthusiasm to the team.” (I can now visualize those gorgeous Gilas doing a cha-cha-cha across the desert.)
LOGAN (NOT THE BOSTON AIRPORT) COUTURE: Since the Sharks couldn’t troll John Tavares, signing the future captain long-term is special for San Jose. To quote that man Rios-Farrell again, “Couture gives the Sharks a big bite.”
IAN (ICE) COLE: Having never met an Ian defenseman that I didn’t like — dating back to Chicago’s Ian Cushenan — I’m a big King Cole fan. He’ll help the Avs as he did the Blues and Penguins before. (How can you not like an Ian who blocks shots with his face?)
MIKE GREEN: Almost — but not quite — as old as the Maven, this offensive D-man still is worthy of the deal he’s gotten to help the Detroit rebuild. There’s nothing Green about this veteran except his name.
DREW DOUGHTY: Take away the t-y and you got big dough and long years — and why not? Double D and newly-acquired Ilya Kovalchuk could turn the LA power play into A-1 in the West.
JONATHAN BERNIER: I remember when he was neck-and-neck with Jon Quick as the Kings starter when dinosaurs roamed California. Give the Wings credit — G.M. Ken Holland is an ex-goalie — for hauling in Jovial Jon.
PAUL STASTNY: Well, since James Neal left Vegas for Calgary, Hall of Famer Peter’s son could be a better fit with the Golden Knights than he was in frigid Winnipeg. Or, as Funnyman Farrell puts it, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”
MICHAEL GRABNER: Kid Lightning may not be a kid anymore but he still has Indy 500 Wheels and knows where the back of the net is; except, that is, when he was a Devil. This is another Coyotes get that might even get them back into the post-season.
ISLANDERS ADDS: Lou added Tom Kuhnhackl and Mike Sislo up front with Chris Gibson adding goalie depth and Seth Helgeson on D.
I like Kuhnhackl. He played on two Cup-winners in Pitt and offers third and fourth-line options.
P.S. ON TAVARES: Many precincts — and personalities — still are being heard from now that the immigration of John Tavares to Canada has been completed.
Viewer Jonathan Liss of Milburn, New Jersey writes, “Tavares leaving is the best thing that could have happened to the Islanders. It’s a terrible decision to base all your future on one player; as the Devils did with Ilya Kovalchuk.”
Even more acidic, ex-Newsday columnist Joe Dionisio writes from Block Island: “The overrated Tavares is not remotely worth an $11 million cap hit. I’d argue that his actual value is about half of that.
“Tavares averaged 69 points over the last six campaigns. This past season’s 69-point scorers were Rickard Rakell, Jon Huberdeau and Mitch Marner. Rakell’s cap hit is $3.8 million.
“Nobody is accusing #91 of not being an excellent player. Still, the reality is putting his paycheck in Connor McDavid territory is sheer lunacy. Have no fear, replacing a 69-point player won’t be as challenging as you think.”
Reader Michael Rudman of Syosset agrees. “I’m happy Tavares is gone; he was a distraction. Tavares may be a star in Toronto but the Islanders will become winners again.”