7 Thoughts: Free Agency Took An Interesting, Unexpected Turn

1. The Islanders need to have one arena to call home and not two. Not only is it weird for the fans and the players, but it hurts the Islanders appeal for free agents, and that was seen with Panarin signing with the Rangers. The appeal of Manhattan and the city drove him to leave money on the table and sign with the Rangers instead of the Islanders. With the shovel being put in the ground soon, hopefully we can put this to bed once and for all.

2. When Bob McKenzie tweeted that the Islanders were the favorites to sign Panarin, Islanders fans prematurely decided to party and react as if it was definite that Panarin was going to come to Long Island. I think that if McKenzie doesn’t tweet that the Islanders are the favorites, then fans don’t react as they did. It is a sad truth  that the Islanders will not beat out the Rangers for free agents until the Belmont Park arena is complete. I think that Panarin to the Island was just a pipe dream and that there was really no chance that the Islanders were going to snag the winger from MSG.

3. The signing of Semyon Varlamov is enough evidence to show the direction the Islanders are going. Lamoriello has a five-year plan, and that involves Ilya Sorokin. Varlamov and Sorokin share an agent, Paul Theofanous, and are friends outside of the rink. Another question for the Islanders though is what do they do with their goalie prospects. Besides Sorokin, the Islanders have Linus Soderstrom and Jakub Škarek, both of whom are good prospects. Will the Islanders do 1A and 1B again with their goaltenders? Will they trade one of their goalies? We shall see.

4. Linus Soderstrom was at Islanders Rookie Camp and played well during the annual Blue and White Scrimmage. He will be playing in the AHL this year, so what does that mean for Christopher Gibson? Does Gibson play as the backup for Soderstrom? Soderstrom was supposed to be an elite goalie prospect for the blue and orange before he was injured, so if he returns to his previous style of play, how does that fair?

5. During the afternoon of July 1, Lou Lamoriello said that the third line center job could go to someone in the minors. Tanner Fritz and Otto Koivula are potential options? Fans have speculated that Koivula could be the future third line center after his season in Bridgeport.

6. Restricted free agent Anthony Beauvillier can play center and wing. Will Beauvillier shift down to the third line and play center? His chemistry with Mat Barzal could possibly affect the lineup as well. Maybe the Islanders will look at a center on the market or make a trade for a center to fill the role, but I would imagine, barring a horrible trading camp, Otto Koivula will take the spot.

7. With Montreal offer-sheeting Sebastian Aho from the Hurricanes, who then matched the contract, all eyes will be on big name RFAs like Mitch Marner and Patrick Laine. I personally think that Liane is a better fit for the Islanders as he is a goal scorer, but I could see Lamoriello try and poach his former star in Marner from his former team. However, I really doubt the Islanders offer a contract to either. Lamoriello likes to build through the draft, and I don’t believe that the Islanders would be willing to part with the picks to acquire Laine or Marner.

I just wanted to say a final goodbye to Robin Lehner. He is gritty. He fights for his team. And most importantly, he is a hero. I wish him well in his next journey in Chicago.

Thank you to Elliotte Friedman for the motivation for this article! Be sure to use code drive4five on SeatGeek for $20 off your purchase of tickets!

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