24 June 2012
On draft day, the New York Islanders were the first ones to make an impact as almost immediately following the drafting of Nail Yakupov as the first overall pick, it was announced that the Islanders had traded their 2013 second round pick to the Anaheim Ducks for veteran defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky.
The following day, an article started making the rounds in which Visnovsky, in an interview with a European newspaper, stated "I get offers from Russia and I think about them.” Fans were, as to be expected, shocked at these comments and everyone wondered if this was going to be a sort of Evgeni Nabokov repeat, where the player is, in Visnovsky’s case, traded for but doesn’t report to the team.
However, earlier today Arthur Staple of Newsday took it upon himself to personally call the Slovakian defenseman and find out the full story. Visnovsky stated that the famed interview had actually taken place before the trade itself, and he’d been asked about whether he’d play in the KHL or Slovakia in case of yet another lockout. He confirmed to all fans that he would be present at training camp, and stated that “this is my first choice, to play for the Islanders.”
The 35 year old, 36 in August, has a cap hit of $5.6 million, but only a $3 million salary in the last year of his contract. Visnovsky will give a definite boost to the Islanders power play, take some of the pressure off of Islander captain Mark Streit, and also helps the Islanders fill one of the defensive holes as it seems obvious that Mark Eaton, Milan Jurcina, and Steve Staios (now a front office employee of the Toronto Maple Leafs) will not be back next season.
The Islanders will likely fill the other two spots left on the blue line with one free agent signing, and the promotion of one of Matt Donovan, Aaron Ness, and/or Calvin de Haan with Donovan and Ness the likeliest candidates. After said promotion and signing the Islanders defense should look something like this:
A major improvement from last year’s:
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