Just when you thought things were morphing into some form of normal on Long Island, GM Garth Snow announces the Islanders have signed goalie Martin Biron.
The logic, as Snow told TSN.ca, goes as follows:
“Adding Marty gives us three bona fide No. 1 goalies. We learned about the importance of stability in our lineup from last year and he now allows us to have another quality starter.”
Where to start with this one?
From the Isles’ side, there’s really no risk here because Biron obviously knew the lay of the land before signing. Rick DiPietro and Dwayne Roloson were already on the depth chart, so playing time, as it stands right now, will clearly be at a premium.
There’s also little financial risk in a $1.4-million, one-year deal.
The most glaring question to come out of this centers around DiPietro and whether this move is confirmation the Isles have no faith in his ability to get/stay healthy.
Would anybody be really surprised if Biron and Roloson each got in about 35 games this year, while DiPietro was reunited with Snow, his former backup, in the press box?
From Biron’s perspective, you have to wonder if this contract represents the worst read of the UFA market in the history of summer lunacy.
Scuttlebutt suggested Biron was after in excess of $4 million annually, which may or may not have been the motivating factor in Philadelphia’s decision to walk away from him and sign Ray Emery for $1.5 million.
Maybe the Flyers believe Emery, who’s been to a Cup final, is simply a better goalie than Biron. The latter never fully seized the chance to show he was a true No. 1 in Philly over the past two seasons. His best work came in the 2008 playoffs when the Flyers advanced to the conference final. But too often his play fell short of that high-water mark and maybe the Flyers just got fed up with the inconsistency.
Surely the summer goalie shuffle would end with Biron bagging a multi-year deal based on nearly a decade’s worth of competent NHL work.
Edmonton turned to Nikolai Khabibulin, The Avs inked Craig Anderson, L.A. is sticking with Jonathan Quick and Erik Ersberg, and Atlanta believes Johan Hedberg and Ondrej Pavelec are sufficient insurance for Kari Lehtonen’s groin.
Best case scenario for Biron, one of league’s truly good guys, is he takes a positive approach, gets some quality games in and makes good on a do-over when he becomes a UFA again next summer.
Worst case is he gets caught in a Long Island log jam that limits him to a handful of games, completely negating his ability to drive up his value for another round of negotiations one year from now.
Biron will be 32 in a couple weeks and though he’s obviously benefited tremendously from the financially rewarding experience of being an NHL player, missing out on a long-term contract in the winter of your career is never ideal.
Now he’ll be chasing that deal in a tenuous situation on a team that’s sure to be terrible again.
All things considered, it’s tough to imagine him heading into next July 1 with more leverage than he had this year. That means, if the goalie market is anything like it was this summer, either Biron’s goals-against average or his expectations will need to drop severely before his next UFA experience.
Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey’s Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear regularly in the off-season and his column, Top Shelf, appears Wednesdays.
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