Sunday, July 5, 2009

Former Islander UFAs and Signings

With the free agency market having opened on July 1 things have been busy for Former Islanders. Here is a look at the action to date:

Edmonton signed defenseman/winger Jason Strudwick to a 1 year deal worth $700K after the 12 year veteran put up a career best 9 points (2 goals, 7 assists) on 71 games last season. A fusion player who can play the blueline or a 4th line winger role has played in 559 games for the Isles, Canucks, Blackhawks, Rangers and Oilers. Over that span Strud has posted 13 goals and 34 assists for 47 points. Strudwick was original taken in the 3rd Round, 63rd overall in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft by the Islanders.

Veteran defenseman Adrian Aucoin bailed on Calgary and is heading to the Phoenix Coyotes on a 1 year, $2.25 million deal. Aucoin had spent the last 2 seasons with the Flames after suffering back injuries as captain in Chicago. Aucoin has revived his career and last season posted a respectable 34 points (10 goals, 24 assists) on 81 games. Originally taken in the 5th Round, 117th overall in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft by the Canucks, Aucoin has played for the 'Nucks, Lightning and Isles as well as the Blackhawks and Flames. Aucoin has played in 851 games scoring 108 goals and adding 228 assists for 336 points. He has posted back-to-back 10 goal seasons for only the second time in his career.

Winger Ruslan Fedotenko opted to take a pay cut if that meant staying with the championship Pittsburgh Penguins as the forward signed off on a 1 year deal worth $1.8 million, a nearly half a million dollar cut from last year's contract. Fedo played well in his first season in Pitt notching 39 points (16 goals, 23 assists) on 65 injury-shortened games. He also notched 14 points (7 goals, 7 assists) in the team's 24 game playoff run. A 597 game veteran, Fedo has 139 goals and 139 assists for 278 points and can now boast of his 2 Stanley Cup rings. Fedotenko has played for the Flyers, Lightning, Isles and Pens.

The Colorado Avalanche have offloaded "Captain Canada" Ryan Smyth and his hearty $6.5 million dollars due next year and the $10 million due for the next 2 years after that in exchange for Los Angeles defensemen Tom Preissing, Kyle Quincey and a 5th Round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Smyth played well this past year leading the team with 59 points (26 goals, 33 assists) on 77 games but never really met up to the Avs' expectations as the team has failed to make the playoffs for 2 straight years. On the flipside the woeful and youthful Kings have been trying to bolster their team with a veteran presence. A 920 game veteran Smyth has 310 goals and 350 assists for 660 points on his career. Originally selected in the 1st Round, 6th overall in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, Smyth played his first 12 seasons in the league with the Edmontion Oilers before going to the Isles late in the 2006-07 season. Smyth bailed on the Isles lures to keep him and opted for a 5 year deal with Avalanche and now finds himself in exile from the Mile High City after a failed experiment. Smyth was one of the major catalysts as the Oil made it to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final - the closest taste of success for the vaunted winger.

A pair of notable FIs have decided to take their chances at arbitration. Young d-man Denis Grebeshkov has spurned Edmonton's lowball offers and has decided to leave the decision up to the league about how much he deserves. Greb is coming off a breakout year in which he compiled 39 points (7 goals, 32 assists) on 72 games. He now has 176 games under his belt with 10 goals and 53 assists for 63 points. A former 1st Round pick, Grebeshkov was taken 18th in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft by the Los Angeles Kings. Greb has played with the Kings, Isles and Oil. Slightly more seasoned is Chicago d-man Aaron Johnson who is looking for a pay raise. Johnson had a hot start last season with the Blackhawks before tailing off midway through and then being demoted. He notched 3 goals and added 5 assists for 8 points on 38 games. Johnson has played in 184 games scoring 10 goals and adding 26 assists for 36 points. Johnson was originally taken in the 3rd Round, 85th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. He has suited up for the BJs, Isles and 'Hawks.

Check back soon as the players continue to fall into place for the 2009-2010 season.

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