Former Islanders prospect Jason Gregoire has signed an entry level contract with the Winnipeg Jets according to Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun. The Winnipeg, Manitoba native spent the last three years with the University of North Dakota, culminating with 43 points in 35 games this past season. Gregoire, who was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2007 NHL Draft, became a free agent after completing his college season and going pro.
CH: Like I said on earlier podcasts, this is extremely underwhelming by Gregoire. It's a real slap in the face to the team that drafted him and took a shot on him when he really was not ranked very high in 2007. He seemed like a character guy, and I certainly did not expect him to leave the Islanders like this. That said, he'll get more of a chance to crack the NHL roster on a Winnipeg team who is still rebuilding. Either way, whether people brush this off or not, just remember the only other player to use this loophole was Blake Wheeler, who was picked in the top 10 of the NHL draft (and I did not defend him when he did). That said, life goes on, and the Islanders will too with their elite level prospect pool.
AT: I would've liked Gregoire in the depth charts, but he'll probably have a better chance at being higher in ranking in Winnipeg's system. Not to mention he's actually from Winnipeg, so his first team will be his hometown team. A shame as he should've signed with the team that drafted him, but there's not much you can do in this situation. I hope this loophole is fixed in the next CBA.
Secondly, the Columbus Blue Jackets have signed former Islanders defenseman Radek Martinek to a 1 year, $2.2 million contract on Wednesday. Martinek, a 10-year veteran (all with the Islanders), finished with 16 points in 64 games last year.
CH: Martinek was a good Islander for many years and I'm very happy to see that he found a home in Columbus next season. He will fit in well with that system and collection of players, and if he stays healthy will be an underrated piece as the Blue Jackets push for their second playoff appearance in franchise history.
As for the Islanders, this was their back-up plan. Now he's gone. So it's really up to Snow now. We've identified some free agents and trade targets that are still out there. It's only July 7, so there is plenty of time, but the Islanders need to act before this August 1 vote. Waiting until arbitration will not make the fanbase happy, which normally is not a big deal, but with such an important day in Islanders history they should be doing their best to get the fans excited for the next season. And that does not include signing Kirill Kabanov to an entry-level contract. I remain patient and hopeful, because it is still early, but with free agent defensemen off the board daily and trades happening seemingly every other day, it makes every fan antsy. How many more players will be moved? Will there even be players available? I'm all for Garth Snow to wait for the move that fits best for the team, but that move has to come. Anything less would make this off-season a complete failure. He has two months to make it happen, but more and more targets will be gone as the days go by.
AT: I liked Radek. I really did. He was amazingly the healthiest D-man on the Isles this past season. But as Carey mentioned, he was their backup plan, and he's gone now. Where do the Isles go now? You have to hope and pray Garth is on the phone constantly looking for a top 4 D man to deal for. It is absolutely essential for success at this point. Hope Radek fits in well in Columbus. Beautiful city, he'll be with another former Islander in Wisniewski, and he seems the be excited.