The New York Islanders may have come up short in their attempt to sign Christian Ehrhoff, but that doesn't mean they are done trying to make a splash. The Ehrhoff news was only the beginning. With the free-agent market opening in just a few hours, the Islanders will be players, but they have their minds set on something much bigger.
The fact that Islanders general manager Garth Snow made a big pitch for Christian Ehrhoff (who just signed a 10-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres), is a telling sign. He let the NHL know that the team from Long Island intend to be players, not only in the thin free agency department, but the trade market as well.
Snow and team owner Charles Wang understand that they need to reach the salary cap floor, but they also understand that it is important to make a public relations splash as well. The referendum vote is just about a month away, and any positive news regarding the current team will only create more good vibes with fans in Nassau County, which will only help promote the "yes" vote for a new arena on August 1.
More importantly, Snow understands the Islanders are improving greatly and now is the time to start spending on pieces that will not only earn the team a possible playoff berth this upcoming season, but make them contenders for years to come. That is where the trade market comes in. If Snow is going to throw $6 million around for a very good, but not a No. 1 defenseman in Ehrhoff, he will certainly go after star talent, and salary won't be an issue.
That being said, let's throw the name Alexander Semin into this mix. Start the rumor mill now. The Capitals are looking for different chemistry. They are too good of a hockey club to have their season end after the second round of the playoffs. Capitals GM George McPhee is looking for a different type of team structure—a grittier team that would be able to handle more of an Eastern Conference style of play.
Alex Ovechkin is the best player in the NHL (nothing against Sidney Crosby), with the right mix, he can carry the team on his back and take them to the Stanley Cup finals in any given year.
Washington made a very interesting move this past week. They locked up forward Brooks Laich to a six-year, $27 million contract. Many think the Caps overpaid, but at the same time, Laich plays the exact style the Caps want every other teammate to play. He is a gritty second-line player who doesn't mind grinding it out in the corners. That is the style that wins lengthy playoff series.
If you listened closely, Semin trade rumors have been around since last season. Some rumors included the Islanders as one of the interested parties. Where they true? Who knows?
Here are the facts that we do know: The Islanders want to add star power. They already proved they are willing to spend with the Ehrhoff offer. Wang wants to create a buzz prior to the August 1 arena vote. They sit very low below the salary cap floor. George McPhee wants to change the atmosphere and the Caps' style of play.
I'm not one to start trade rumors or take any rumors seriously. In this case, i believe it's a perfect situation for the Islanders. What would they give up? That is the million dollar question. Just to throw out an example, let's say Josh Bailey, Blake Comeau and next year's first rounder. Is that too much? Not enough? That is up to Snow and McPhee to decide.
I'm sure I will get a lot of positive and negative responses to this article, which is fine. Either way, it should be a fun few months in Islanders country.