Friday, July 6, 2007

Relax, you guys only play 42 times at the Coliseum.

Normally I'd introduce myself to the faithful Battle of New York readers, but we'll have to save that for another time. Any introduction I could offer would be grossly overshadowed by the huge free agent signings of Bill Guerin and Mike Comrie. As you can see, I am an Islanders fan and a pessimistic one at that.

At first news of these signings I could already hear the snickering from the Ranger fans and the comments from every other hockey know-it-all mocking the Islanders for overpaying to land an aging, past his prime free agent and an under-achieving, diminutive center with attitude problems. I decided to let the dust settle and do some homework before rushing to judge Garth Snow's first free agent signings.

$9 million dollars over 2 years is a lot of money to you and I, and it would probably net you a nice house in Syosset, a Land Rover, and all the Ralph's Italian ice you can eat. To other NHL franchises who don't have the cap room (I'm looking at you Vancouver) this is also a lot of money. But for the Isles who lost 5 of their top point producers from last year and had the money and cap room to spare, it’s a good a deal. No really, that’s not sarcasm, it’s a good deal. Argue all you want about Jason Blake being younger and the Isles losing him for only $500K more and that Guerin is older, but the reality of it is, signing Bill Guerin to this contract is a good deal. The Rangers and Flyers have already gone out and proved that in the "New NHL" teams are going to shell out top dollar to the higher end Free Agents, so the Islanders are just following suit.

Billy Guerin is a solid contributor. He's a goal scorer and is good to light the lamp about 25-30 times a year. I'm leaving out his two 40 goal seasons with the Bruins as I'm pretty sure I could pot about 15 goals in the show if I was playing on a line with Joe Thornton as my center. Even if Guerin is turning 37 in November, he is still durable and his track record will prove he's a shoe in to be in the line up every night. Not to mention if this signing doesn't work out, the San Jose Sharks showed that a team will shell out a prospect and high pick for Guerin's less then stellar playoff services. I actually like what Garth Snow has done here, it's not a quick fix, it's not that long of a contract, and if its not the right fit Guerin can be shipped out for future parts.

Let's move on to Andy Hilbert's one time Michigan Wolverine teammate, Mike Comrie. Once again, everyone is going to focus on his price tag ($3.375-million), his lack of consistent production and games played, his lacking defensive game, and we can't forget his bad attitude. I'm hesitant on liking this pick up, but there is an upside with Ted Nolan who has proven in the past he can get the best out of his players. Is Comrie an ideal first line center? No, Not at all. But was Derek Plante or Brian Holzinger for Buffalo back in '96-'97? I think not. With any luck and Ted Nolan cracking the whip, Comrie may just turn out to be a nice pick up who uses a solid year on the Island only to skip town next summer for a better deal. (Hey, I said I was a pessimistic Islander fan.)

These are baby steps Garth is taking and they are baby steps in the right direction. Both signings have potential and for Islander fans, that’s a lot more potential then we had a few days ago.


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