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From the 8th Seed to a Netminding Need

Goodman Sports hockey specialist Robert Wranovics reports:

The New York Islanders have been quite active this offseason. They traded their 2010 first round pick Nino Niederreiter to Minnesota for Cal Clutterbuck and a third rounder. Not a big move and not what we should be focusing on, but more importantly, many Icelander faithful are breathing sighs of relief as the Rick DiPietro era has officially ended. The Isles opted to buy out his massive, 15 year, $67.5 million contract that was signed in 2006 and will pay him some $1.5 million per year for the next 16 years. Perhaps this contract was Alexei Yashin version 2.0 but it is no longer a monkey on the teams back. Ending the DP Era was also evident in the Islanders recent success; the Islanders made their playoff push once it was announced that DP would be heading to the minors in Bridgeport, and so this buy out essentially offers a fresh start for John Tavares moving into Brooklyn.

More importantly, while the Islanders are one of the top teams in terms of cap space, they are in a bit of a netminder dilemma. Tim Thomas was acquired by the Isles mid-season but refused to report and did not play a single game, as he was on a hiatus from the NHL. The trade was simply to meet the salary floor and to never actually put Thomas in the net. Thomas has expressed interest in returning to the NHL since his hiatus last year, and will test the Free Agency waters and most likely land a starting job being, a former Conn Smyth winner. Either way, The Isles and Thomas have gone their separate ways. So that takes care of 2 goalies; who's still left?  

Now that Tim Thomas is ruled out to mind the pipes in Nassau, what about Evegni Nabokov? He too is opting to test the Free Agency market as well, which furthers the conundrum that the Isles will have to face. If no moves are made, this leaves Kevin Poulin in net. Poulin went 1-3 this past season allowing 13 goals, obtaining a .893 Save % and a 3.02 GAA. These numbers are mediocre at best and would mean a long season for this team. Let's not forget though that the Islanders have cap room and can make moves. Perhaps Ryan Miller is on the radar? Maybe Ilya Byrzgalov who is now a free agent? No matter what way you look at it, the Islanders MUST make SOME kind of an effort to get a goalie if they expect to return to the playoffs. If the Islanders do get the goaltending they certainly need, be very cautious of this team as they are young, talented, can score and will most definitely be back in the mix of things by the playoffs.