Three injured Islanders skated Saturday morning and all of them -- Lubomir Visnovsky, Evgeni Nabokov and Travis Hamonic, who joined the skaters for the first time since suffering a concussion Jan. 12 -- constituted good news for the Isles.
Hamonic, who got hurt in Dallas two weeks ago and flew home before the end of the team's six-game road trip, took the biggest step. Having been cleared through the concussion protocol to resume skating, he leaped over a few hurdles in the last few days.
Visnovsky, who has been out since Oct. 20 with a concussion, could take his biggest step in more than three months, as a source indicated that he could be activated off injured reserve to play Monday against the Bruins. Saturday's game was the 46th that Visnovsky has missed. He's been practicing with the Islanders since they returned from their six-game road trip a week ago.
"We're definitely hoping to have Lubo back next week," Jack Capuano said.
Nabokov, out since Jan. 6 with a quadriceps strain, also might be ready to come off IR, with the possibility of making his first start in more than three weeks Wednesday at Yankee Stadium against the Rangers.
The Islanders have not placed Hamonic on IR, so he likely would go on that list to make room for Visnovsky.
Isles filesThe Islanders have led 2-0 on 14 occasions this season. After Saturday's shootout loss, they are 6-3-5 in those games . . . Kyle Okposo's goal and assist gave him 54 points, two more than his career high set in 2009-10. His 22 goals are two shy of his career best from 2011-12 . . . Thomas Hickey has a goal and two assists and is plus-8 in his last three games.
Defense has been horrible. Just horrible. Hickey has been easily one of our better defenders, he's a plus 9 on the year and plays with some real toughness on his 6 ft frame. I'm not sure if I told you guys, but Andrew MacDonald wants 5M a year. He is not worth that kind of money, he's worth around 3 - 3.5, trade him at the deadline.
With Lubo and Hamonic coming back soon hopefully our defense can help our goal tenders out and keep pucks out of our net.
-Islanders didn't pick up a goalie around the deadline because they didn't see the guys with term as #1 goalies (Fasth, Neuvirth). They will look for a trade or a UFA in the offseason, and will bring in a veteran backup (Nabokov is likely, but not a slam dunk).
-Islanders are more likely to spend money in areas other than top line LW. An in house candidate like Anders Lee would be the favorite. A short term deal for someone like Gaborik is possible.
-Rumors about the Isles not willing to retain salary on Vanek are not necessarily true, that teams with offers (like Leafs and Wild) were offering players with decent salaries that Snow didn't see having a future on the Isles. Vanek's reputation took a big hit with the Islanders and during the Olympics, teams feel that he is a coaster. He will really have to turn it up with the Canadiens to get a contract close to the one he turned down from the Isles.
-Major problem with the 3rd period blown leads is the mentality - the team seems to be expecting the worst.
-Subban moving from the Canadiens is a long shot, but he heads a group of RFAs that could possibly be moved in the offseason and Snow would be interested in.
-Moulson was asking for $6M per year over 4 or 5 years, which was a non-starter for Snow and caused a lot of tension between the two before the season. Snow wanted a more dynamic player in that spot.
-Snow and Capuano are close, and Snow puts a lot of the blame for this season on himself. It will be a tough decision to make, and if a new coach is hired it is more likely to be Doug Weight than someone outside the team, but Staple is not sure.
-Snow will try to fix the defense by more than just adding Reinhart. But with UFA price tags for players like Niskanen being too high, a trade for a younger player is more likely.
-Isles staff looks at advanced stats, but are more concerned with scoring chances given and gained.
-Wang has been quieter than usual, only talks before and after season. Staple hopes to catch up with him next month. Ignored questions about Wang selling the team, because likely he has no clue.
-This summer may be the time that the Isles overpay for B level players after A level guys turn them down, with the cap floor going up.
-Snow has until June 1 to decide which pick Buffalo gets. He is probably going to keep this year's pick, even if it's #6 or #7. He will need to hold on to this year's pick if he wants to do any draft trading.
-Nelson is the more versatile of he and Strome, so it is possible you see him on Strome's left wing next season.
-Trading prospects is much more likely than roster players. Losing Nielsen would be tough on the forward group. Bailey wouldn't get anything of value in return.
-Poulin's future is not likely to be with the Isles. He may be involved in a deal for another goalie, suggests Poulin and a 2nd for Reimer, but he seems to be messing around. Says the Isles like Hiller quite a bit if he hits UFA.
-Snow will be back next year, Capuano is TBD.
-There was no market for Nabokov at deadline. They like Vis and want him back next year, so no reason to consider trading him.
-Perhaps it is time for a new voice outside the organization to give the team a kick in the pants. Coaching situation is a wait and see.
- Neuvirth, and Vasth are not 1A starting goaltenders. 1B. They are extremely good backups on good teams, but I do not consider them starters. We should of signed Khudobin when we had the chance to in the offseason, it extremely hurt us because look at his stats this year.
He signed so cheaply with the Canes during Free Agency last off season. Garth should of signed him, he failed to upgrade the goal tender position, which hurt us this year. Just my opinion.
-Why not address a top left wing position in the free agency this year? I like Strome, I like Lee, and I like Nelson, they have potential but I don't see them ready for the top 6 yet. We need a polished vet... Would love to bring Moulson, Gaborik, Heatley, or even Michalek on board for the 1st LW spot and it doesn't appear Wang will be willing to spend for a top 6 winger which forces us to go to the youth.
**Read this, it's important.
Have you guys noticed this trend? Every time a guys contract goes up on the Islanders (Moulson, Parenteau, even Boyes) Wang refuses to open the book to resign them. They get let go or traded. This is wrong. That Moulson - Tavares - Parenteau was a very beneficial line for us until the emergence of Kyle Okposo. I'm still mad about that, and I'm even madder that Wang does not open the bank to resign players. That is wrong. Feel free to disagree.
- I call BS on Staple. Wang was not willing to take salary back on Vanek otherwise we would of gotten a better trade if he ate salary. Wang is cheap as they come.
- The 3rd period collapses belong on coaching. Capuano is not a good coach, he is not getting paid like a premium coach, and this is another reoccurring trend with the Islanders and Wang. We always sign coaches WITHIN in the team, usually from Bridgeport. Our next coach my guess will be Dougy Weight.
- kmo has talked about this and unfortunately it may be the only way to go. Trade for players since we are not ever aggressive in the free agency.
- I believe that about Moulson, was he worth 6M? I don't know, I would of tried to negotiate though. I would of offered him around 5 - 5.5, nothing more then that though. Snow is a joke.
- Friendship should be left out of the game. Those stretches in December and November should of been enough to fire Jack Capuano. Any plausible GM would of fired him.
- If you are going to make no attempt to sign a team need such as a #3 or 4 defense men in FA this off season, you do not belong to be a GM of my team.
- Scoring chances? We always have a ton of shots on goal. We have given up the most goals in the NHL this year. We don't need scorers, we need defense and goal tending help.
- Wang is always quiet and he is the source of evil on this team. He is holding us back from acquiring pieces to build around our core. He is the worst owner in the NHL because of his inability to spend.
- I don't want B players. I want A players. We have a lot of cap space and we refuse to be aggressive.
- I would turn give this years pick to Buffalo, since next years draft is stronger. We may be worse next year.
- I disagree. Strome is the better prospect then that of Brock Nelson. Higher ceiling.
- Trading prospects? He's going down the mad Mike road.
- Reimer for a 2nd? Reimer is garbage!
- Snow will be back, Capuano will be back then. I'm not buying it until it happens.