Today marked the annual beginning of NHL free agency. While teams were out there acquiring talent to improve their team the Islanders in typical fashion signed a hand full of depth players.
While depth players are certainly needed and useful for a multitude of reasons signing them today rather then in a couple weeks is puzzling to me.
The Islanders signed forwards Cory Conacher, Kael Mouillierat, Jack Skille, and Harry Zolnierczyk to 1 year contracts. Additionally, they signed defenseman TJ Brennan to a one year contract and goalie David Leggio to a 1 year contract.
Starting with Conacher whose contract also happens to be a one way deal meaning two things: he gets paid the same amount of money regardless if he is in the NHL or the AHL and he has to pass through waivers in order to be sent down. Conacher emerged on the scene with Tampa Bay a couple years ago putting up stellar numbers alongside Martin St Louis and Steven Stamkos. With his value high Tampa shipped him off to Ottawa in exchange for Ben Bishop. Since then Conacher has just fallen off the face of the earth and last season had only 26 points in 79 games splitting time between Ottawa and Buffalo.
The fact that this is a one way contract screams of another project like Pierre Marc Bouchard and Peter Regin last season and we see how well those worked out. Given his track record of success alongside Stamkos and St Louis could we be looking at our first line winger?
The Islanders also signed Kael Mouillierat to a 1 year 2 way contract. This isn't Mouillierat's first go around in the organization as he played 44 games for Bridgeport in the 11/12 season. Following that he departed to the Jets AHL team in ST Johns. In 60 games for them last season Mouillierat put up 53 points.
Mouillierat seems as though he is a pretty good depth player for us so I have no issue with the signing. What I have issue with is when it was done. I have a hard time believing that he was such a hot commodity that he wouldn't have been around in another couple weeks.
The Islanders last signing of the night was forward Jack Skille to a 1 year 2 way contract. Skille, a former first round pick of the Blackhawks has never been able to find a full time role in the NHL. Last season, in 16 games for Columbus Skille had 4 points. Additionally, in 22 games for the Blue Jackets AHL affiliate in Springfield Skille had 24 points including 13 goals.
Again, like mentioned above I don't have an issue signing depth because it can be valuable. However, I don't feel as though especially for a team like us with all the holes we have that this is something we should be doing at a time like this.
Between Mouillierat and Skille the Islanders signed another forward. Former Flyers farm hand Harry Zolnierczyk was signed by the Islanders to a 1 year 2 way contract. If Zolnierczyk plays with the Islanders his salary is 600K, meanwhile if he is in the AHL that is cut in half to 300K. Zolnierczyk had a break out season in the AHL for the Phantoms last season putting up 18 goals and 18 assists in 57 games to go along with 75 penalty minutes.
Bridgeport was in dire need of people up front so he makes sense. Like the others though, I can't imagine that he would've been off the board a couple weeks from now.
On defense, which was one of the Islanders most glaring needs last season they brought in TJ Brennan on a 1 year one way contract worth 600K. Brennan was the AHL defenseman of the year last season with the Toronto Marlies. In 76 games last season for the Marlies, Brennan had 25 goals and 47 assists along with 115 PIMS.
In general, I wouldn't mind the signing. However, because this was our backup plan to Dan Boyle is where we have some issues. Brennan seems like a low risk potentially high reward move. However, with all the question marks surrounding the Islanders defense already adding another one isn't exactly a very smart strategy if you ask me.
The Islanders last depth signing of the day was goalie David Leggio who was sign to a 1 year 2 way contract. In 45 games for the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League last season Leggio had a 2.63 GAA and a .913 save percentage. He was signed likely to platoon with Kevin Poulin in Bridgeport this season after the departure of Anders Nilsson.
Again, like the others I don't have a problem with the signing and in fact I like it so it doesn't guarantee Poulin a job and makes him earn it. All I question with it is the timing.
While there might be a lot of time left in the summer, if you believe Garth Snow's recent quotes it appears as though the team you see now is more or less the team you will see on opening night which is extremely unfortunate to say the least.