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Islanders seek defense

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

New York Islanders GM Garth Snow said he didn't expect to add any veterans to his forward lines, though he may be looking for an experienced defenseman.

Chris Botta of Islanders Point Blank recently spoke with four NHL scouts who suggested Snow would shop around for blueline depth.

One scout told Botta he knew Snow had been trying to add a defenseman throughout the summer, going back to his failed effort to sign Christian Ehrhoff after acquiring his rights from Vancouver in late June. Ehrhoff went on to sign with the Buffalo Sabres.

Another scout claimed he knew “for a fact” Snow sent a training camp invitation earlier in August “to a pretty good veteran,” that was subsequently rejected “for now.” This lead Botta to speculate the target was Bryan McCabe, the best defenseman left on the free agent market.

The Isles’ lack of experienced depth on defense is a legitimate concern. Their blueline currently consists of Mark Streit, Milan Jurcina and Mark Eaton, followed by Andrew MacDonald, Ty Wishart and Travis Hamonic.

Snow's payroll currently sits about $2.3 million beneath the salary cap floor, though the Isles would become cap compliant if right wing prospect Nino Niederreiter cracks the lineup this season, as expected.

If he wants, Snow has more than enough cap space to add an experienced defenseman or two via free agency or trade.

That will stoke blogosphere speculation of Snow trying to land Long Island native Mike Komisarek from the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Bear in mind the Isles GM is likely under orders to keep payroll as low as possible, meaning there won't be room for a blueliner like Komisarek, who carries a $4.5 million per season contract for three more years, even if Snow sent salary the other way.

Snow’s best trade option appears to be the Sabres, who are rumored to be trying to move Shaone Morrisonn and the last year ($2.075 million) of his contract. ��

Besides McCabe, free agent options include Anton Stralman, Steve Staios and former Islander Chris Campoli.


Veteran right winger Teemu Selanne won't make a decision on playing this season with the Anaheim Ducks until mid-September, but he recently expressed his optimism about returning to the lineup to the Orange County Register.

Selanne, 41, has been recovering from off-season left knee surgery. He admitted how his knee feels will determine if he returns, but believed he can still play if he builds up the muscles around the knee.

Despite his age, ‘The Finnish Flash’ had a very productive performance last season, scoring 31 goals and 80 points in 73 games. If he doesn’t play this season the loss would be felt by the Ducks and it would push them towards the trade or free agent market to find a replacement.


Another Finnish forward, left winger Jarkko Ruutu, is still a free agent, but he's continuing to train in his native land.

Ruutu, 36, recently told a Finnish paper he wasn’t concerned about his situation, saying he's received offers from NHL teams that, in his opinion, weren’t satisfactory, but didn't rule out the possibility of signing an NHL contract.

He did, however, rule out returning to the Ducks. Ruutu was dealt to Anaheim from Ottawa midway through last season and wasn't offered a new contract.


Former Dallas Stars great Mike Modano still isn't ready to announce his retirement.

In a July interview, Modano hinted he would likely decide on his future in August, but he recently told Richard Durrett of he would wait until mid-September to reach his decision.

Given Modano hasn't received any contract offers, odds are he'll be announcing his retirement in a few weeks.

Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website,, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and Kukla's Korner.


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