Talks with Yashin Highlight How Crazy Things Are on Long Island
In 2001 Alexei Yashin signed a 10 year, $87.5 million deal with the New York Islanders. In 2007 Yashin headed for the KHL and the franchise bought out the remaining four years of that contract, and will be on the hook for $2.2m until 2015.
Given the Russian’s less than glorious departure from New York four years ago, you’d think he’d be the last player Isles GM Garth Snow would be looking at surely? Well, you’d be wrong.
Yes, as crazy as it sounds – the Islanders are talking to Alexei Yashin!
Lets give Yashin his dues – his skill and ability was never in question. With a puck on his stick he was a fine player, and still is in many respects. He could do a job as a depth center.
The issue was, and potentially still is, his attitude. He doesn’t exactly do his fellow countrymen any favours when it comes to stereotypes about difficult, lazy or otherwise awkward Russian forwards. So why on Earth would Garth Snow go back down that road?
Despite several good young players – Tavares, Okposo, Grabner etc – and a couple of decent veterans like Mark Streit, they are still a basement team. Having Streit back and the young guns a year older and wiser may help them move forward a little, but ultimately you wouldn’t be expecting to see many post season games if you’re an Islanders fan next spring.
Should Evgeni Nabokov ‘man up’ and follow through on his promise to play this season then again they’ll be a little better – Nabokov is certainly better than anything else they have goaltending wise in my mind; despite his desire to leave the club before he’s even pulled the jersey on!
Whatever happens on the ice, even the best case scenario won’t see the Isles as a regular post season participant any time soon, let alone a Cup contender!
The other issue is the salary cap. With the cap floor at just over $48m, the Isles currently sit $9m shy with 20 players signed.
Whilst sound financial management is necessary for the club, that’s a lot of dollars to shell out just to reach the required cap floor – and an increasingly small pool of decent quality players to spend it on.
So what do you do?
‘Easy’ options involve over paying players – an extra million here, and few hundred thousand more there. It’s not like there are not some players the Isles could go after; but unfortunately that again leads us back to the insane situation they find themselves in by negotiating with Yashin! A further option is another former Islander, Bryan McCabe. Need I say more?
Making a trade is another possibility – and maybe the ‘best of a bad bunch’ in respect of the options available. But with whom, for whom and what do they give up? The Isles do not exactly have an embarrassment of riches that they’d be wiling to give up with which to negotiate.But equally they could take advantage of a similar situation which Dale Tallon used in Florida recently; i.e. they have cap space and can take ‘problem deals’ off other clubs hands.
This is the point where I mention Wade Redden of course…
The other spectre hanging over the club is where it will be playing it’s hockey in X years time. This should be a little clearer come August 1st, when the vote is held over a new arena which the team could move to. But the situation does not exactly help when trying to attract players – “well we might be playing in front of a half empty Coliseum, or we might be a nice new arena. Oh, or we might be in Kansas City if owner Charles Wang follows through with his threats to move the franchise”
Either way, it’s a pretty desperate situation when a team in NEW YORK CITY is struggling. It’s not like there is a shortage of potential fans/customers, or it’s a rubbish place for players to live or even a ‘small market’.
I don’t want to use the word ‘desperate’ – but the Isles situation right now is not exactly rosy. I’m continually impressed Garth Snow holds on to his job and the next week could either bring joy (a new arena) or despair (Alexei Yashin back in an isles shirt?!?!?) to the teams fan base.
The more I think about what the Islanders have been through over the past 12 months, and even going further back, the more my mind boggles at the entire situation!