New York Hockey: Sheldon Souray

W2W4: Panthers vs. Islanders

February, 21, 2011
While most of the “hot team” talk has been devoted to the suddenly surging New Jersey Devils, the New York Islanders have made a similar push, winning five of their last six games en route to a 7-3-0 record in February. The Isles will look to continue that trend this afternoon against the visiting Florida Panthers. Here’s what to watch for when the puck drops.

A New Addition?

On Friday, the Edmonton Oilers placed blueliner Sheldon Souray on re-entry waivers from the AHL. At noon Monday we’ll hear if anyone has claimed him. Could the Islanders tap the waiver wire again?

Earlier this season New York unsuccessfully tried to wrangle G Evgeni Nabokov to the island, but the goalie refused to honor his contract. They would likely have more luck with Souray who is looking to escape the minors and show NHL teams he has plenty left to offer. Not to mention the Islanders could use a defenseman with a booming slap shot to help run their power play. Add in that Souray’s $4.5 million salary over the remainder of this season and the next is now halved due to the re-entry waivers process and he could make a very appealing target for GM Garth Snow. Time will tell.

Getting Offensive

Look, Isles fans. It’s the future! The offense has been red hot lately for the Islanders, with New York putting up three or more goals in all but one game this month (a 3-0 loss at Pittsburgh on Feb. 2). During those 10 games the tandem of Michael Grabner (formerly of the Panthers) and John Tavares have combined for 15 goals, 10 by Grabner. The recently re-signed Matt Moulson has chipped in with 6. Seeing the team’s young talent playing to their potential has got to be encouraging.

Who Is That Masked Man?

Al Montoya recorded just his second career NHL shutout when he blanked the Los Angeles Kings Saturday, his second strong outing for the Islanders since coming to the team. (His first was a 37-minute relief effort in a 6-3 loss to the Boston Bruins.) Montoya now flaunts a .954 save percentage in NHL action this season and should get the nod this afternoon, though I haven’t seen a starter reported yet.

Streit replacement scenarios

October, 1, 2010
Following the announcement of D Mark Streit's six-month absence there are a few items today discussing how the Isles can try to replace their top D-man: one from within, one from without.

Internally, Chris Botta writes that the team will look long and hard at Andrew MacDonald. MacDonald has been paired with James Wisniewski since Streit's injury and told Botta he's happy with a recent vote of confidence from head coach Scott Gordon:
“It’s always nice to hear the good stuff, but I have to prove it on the ice,” said MacDonald, who had a goal and six assists in the NHL last season. “One thing I’ve learned since junior is that when you think too much, when you over-analyze a situation, you put yourself in trouble. Last year, I was pretty much focused at the NHL level on my defense. If the coaches decide to give me more of an offensive role, I would welcome the opportunity.

“The one thing I can pretty much guarantee you is, not one guy is going to replace Mark Streit.”

MacDonald played 46 games last season and averaged just over 20 minutes of ice time. And don't let last season's offensive numbers fool you. In his final season in junior hockey with the Moncton Wildcats, MacDonald averaged nearly a point per game (14 G, 44 A in 65 games) and put up 33 points in 69 games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in 2008-09.

The developing D-man is no stranger to facing stiff competition either. According to the stats of Gabe Desjardins at, MacDonald's quality of competition score (which measures the talent level of opposing skaters players see each shift) is the highest of any Islander D with more than 40 games last season, including Streit.

Externally, disgruntled D Sheldon Souray was placed on waivers by the Edmonton Oilers yesterday. The Toronto Globe and Mail has already linked the Islanders as a potentially interested party to claim him.

When healthy, Souray is one of the best point-producing defensemen in the NHL (117 points in his last two seasons of 80 games or more) and could quarterback the Islanders' power play. However, he's been stewing all summer that the Oilers rushed him back last season and the team ordered him to stay away when camp began. Since then they've been trying to trade him to no avail.

On the surface, Souray fits with the Islanders. However, the Islanders have spent these past few seasons building from within and adding a big-contract guy like Souray ($5.4 million for the next two seasons) would go against that MO. And bringing an alleged malcontent into a locker room of young guys might not be the best move to help team chemistry. Also consider that the Oilers are a team very similar to the Islanders in their rebuilding process and they're desperately trying to get rid of this guy.

The internal solution of MacDonald seems a much better fit at this point.