So for the first time I went to Long Island to experience the Islanders Draft Party and I have to say it was fun to go to. While I was talking to a few fans, my colleague from Isles Talk Gary Harding and I noticed two guys in Islanders Polo's and they were hockey players signing autographs. We had no clue who they were. Then Chris King made the announcement that they were in fact newly signed players, one of them was Parker Milner, a goalie from Boston College. "Wait a minute!" was the first sentence in my head. I had known about Kenny Reiter resigning in Bridgeport, but now I thought to myself there's a lot of goalies in Bridgeport this year. I knew something was going to happen.
Before the Isles picked, fans found out that Nino Niederreiter was traded to Minnesota for Cal Clutterbuck. Now, being a fan who likes to win through the development of draft picks, I was scratching my head a little. I knew there was differences between the Isles and Nino, but I guess things could not be worked out. I've been reading that this was the best deal the Isles could get, so OK. Did the Isles make the playoffs without him? Yes. Can they do it next year? Probably, & I know Clutterbuck certainly solidifies a bottom six that just looks mean at this point, but he can score as well. Did the Islanders improve their team? Absolutely. My hope is that Ryan Strome can come in at some time and produce better than Nino.
Then came the actual draft and yes I was rooting for Ryan Pulock to be drafted. I was in Section 203 dead smack in the middle so I was eye level with the jumbo-tron and when I heard Pulock's name, I was the only excited fan there. I was asked what kind of a player he was and as I started to describe Pulock, more and more fans really started to like the pick. So after a few thank you's from the fans I went down to "ice-level" got my tour of the locker room, had a great conversation (and dinner) with Matt Clausen over at Islanders University then made the two hour trek home.
Then after a 16 hour shift at work, I come to hear the news I was not surprised to hear after what occurred at the draft party: the buying out of Rick DiPietro. Now for those that follow me @Netminder39, yes part of that is due to DP, but my original Jersey number was 39. I was a goalie up here in Pa for a few years and I was looking for Billy Smith's 31 (Tommy Salo didn't have a number yet) but they only had 39, so I took it. When DP got drafted and he wore 39, of course he turned into my new favorite Islander. I will say this about Rick, having never met him, you won't find a player with a bigger heart or passion for this Islanders team in the last decade. Period. No player wanted to be on Long Island for that long and the mere thought of anyone wanting to stay the way he genuinely wanted to deserves respect. It was a sad day for me when the Coliseum crowd booed him during the intros when all he was trying to do was to comeback to a team he truly believed in all these years. I wish him nothing but the best of luck and if he does play on the Coliseum ice one more time in another uniform, I just hope the crowd gives him a different reception for what he tried to do for this franchise and it's fans. Passion never dies.
Finally as for free agency, I'm looking forward to see what Garth can do in the coming days. It's certainly setting up to be exciting, I'm just hoping it's not at the cost of too many prospects. My personal pick for a goaltender would be Jonas Hiller & for my RW I wouldn't mind a bought out Danny Heatley for say two years. Bobby Ryan? Maybe, but not losing the farm. Enjoy!