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Report: Richards, Niskanen among targets for ‘aggressive’ Isles

Jun 25, 2014, 7:12 PM EDT

Garth Snow’s busy summer isn’t slowing down.

Having already made a pair of big moves by acquiring Jaroslav Halak‘s and Dan Boyle‘s negotiating rights — the former worked out, the latter didn’t — Snow is reportedly working the phones hard in the early stages of the UFA contact period.

Richards, who became an unrestricted free agent just a few days ago following his buyout from the Rangers, is coming off a solid-if-unspectacular campaign in which he finished third among all Blueshirts skaters with 20 goals and 51 points. While the 34-year-old was a lightning rod for criticism given his $6.6 million cap hit, Richards will generate interest at a lower price point.

Niskanen, arguably the top UFA defenseman available on the open market, is coming off a career-best 46 points. Given he’s only 27 years old and a right-handed shot, it’s expected there will be a large line of suitors looking to secure his services, and that Niskanen’s in line for a big bump (having made $2.3 million annually on his last deal.)

Regardless of what money Richards and Niskanen will command, it’s not surprising to hear Snow wants in on them and other impact UFAs as well. By keeping this year’s fifth overall pick and forwarding next year’s first-rounder to Buffalo (from the Thomas Vanek deal), Snow runs the risk of giving away a potential lottery ticket to the Connor McDavid/Jack Eichel sweepstakes in ’15 should the Isles finish out of the playoffs. Having a good year is critically important.

What’s more, Snow and the Isles are at a crossroad. Are they more like the team that rallied to make the playoffs in 2013 and pushed Pittsburgh in a lively opening-round series? Or are they more the team that finished 26th in the NHL last year with a minus-42 goal differential? This upcoming campaign is an opportunity to find and, not coincidentally, the final season before the Isles move to Brooklyn.

It’s also worth noting that, while they’re not a spend-to-the-cap team, the Isles are $27 million away from the ceiling…and Snow has been given the green light to make aggressive moves in the past.

  1. RoseTintedVisor - Jun 25, 2014 at 7:14 PM

    be aggressive, not stupid, please?

    • billsin20xx - Jun 25, 2014 at 9:56 PM

      I’m hoping he keeps going as he is now, stupid!! We want that McDavid pick he’s going to end up giving us!!!

      • bcisleman - Jun 25, 2014 at 11:02 PM

        Not stupid at all. Forget about McDavid w/ the Isles pick.

      • jl9830 - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:14 AM

        There’s no chance now that they have Jaro Halak; they were middle of the pack, skater-wise last season. It was their horrific goaltending that made them so bad. Halak by himself lifts them out of the bottom 5-8 teams. They may be a few moves away from the playoffs, but short of a lottery miracle, forget about McDavid with the Isles pick.

    • billsin20xx - Jun 25, 2014 at 11:09 PM

      Not stupid??? LOL His Vanek, Moulson and Boyle dealing weren’t stupid? He isn’t the laughingstock of the league right now?
      He must have been really upset when the Sabre’s fired Regier, as Regier was probably the only GM dumber then he is!

      • jl9830 - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:16 AM

        A Sabres fan laughing at another team. Priceless. Worry about your own team that’s worse than ours.

    • kaptaanamerica - Jun 26, 2014 at 12:14 AM

      all these people cutting down Snow are clueless. the guy went for it with Vanek. I’d rather a GM try and make a move to get into the playoffs and do some damage than be a chicken shiite sitting on the sidelines all the time.

      the Isles and the GM couldn’t anticipate how injuries, etc.. would play out this season and had to assume that Vanek would continue to produce at an elite level.

      jumping on the bandwagon to cut down the guy is what the fools are doing…

      The isles will be better next year and there is no way the sabres get a better pick next year than they would have this year. Snow made the right call not giving buffalo this year’s pick.

      • d1122 - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:36 AM

        the Islanders were a playoff team before Snow made the IDIOTIC move for Vanek, as soon as Moulson was gone and Vanek was brought in the team played like crap and were out of the playoff picture, Snow not only killed the team and the chemistry last year with that trade, but he severely mortgaged the future by giving up the 1st round pick, can you imagine if it is McDavid or Eichel who the Sabres are getting with it? Snow is the biggest idiot who has ever been a GM of a sports team and if he is going to continue to make decisions for this team than it is going to be the wrong decision, he has to go and there has to be a GM who has a brain who has brought in as his replacement

      • jl9830 - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:17 AM

        People who think Garth Snow is the “biggest idiot who has ever been a GM” should lose their arguing abilities. Ever heard of Mike Milbury, the guy whose mess Snow is still trying to clean up? If anyone really thinks this is as bad as the Milbury days, you weren’t there for the Milbury days.

      • d1122 - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:48 AM

        jl9830 me not there for the Milbury days? I was there for the Don Maloney days, Garth Snow is the biggest idiot who has ever been a GM of a team and there is no debate about it, that trade he made for Vanek last year shows he is a GM who is about as idiotic as they come

    • d1122 - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:25 AM

      telling Garth Snow to not be stupid is like telling the Sun it should stop shining

  2. ewampus - Jun 25, 2014 at 7:39 PM

    Good luck Islanders. I’m rooting for the lovable losers

  3. billiam55 - Jun 25, 2014 at 7:51 PM

    lololol ya sign richards garth!

    • bcisleman - Jun 25, 2014 at 11:04 PM

      Richards isn’t bad player. He just isn’t worth what Sather was paying him.

  4. nolockoutpricks - Jun 25, 2014 at 7:55 PM

    thats all he does is stupid deals worst GM in the league.

  5. pitpenguinsrulez - Jun 25, 2014 at 8:21 PM

    I really hope they overpay for a number 5 defenseman in Niskanen.

    • 19to77 - Jun 25, 2014 at 8:51 PM

      And I love how Pens fans start hurling their own players under the bus as soon as they hit UFA status and it’s uncertain they’ll resign. If Niskanen signs with the Pens you’ll be back to publically choking on his dick before the month is out. If he signs elsewhere, Pens fans everywhere will be telling us all the reasons he’s overrated from the moment he signs to the moment next season starts.

      • pitpenguinsrulez - Jun 25, 2014 at 11:25 PM

        When have I ever praised Niskanen? If Ray Shero was still GM then I’m sure he’d be resigned. He’s a number on a good but a top 4 on a lousy team. I mean gee he had a career year and ironically it was in a contract year. Aside from this year Niskanen wasn’t too impressive. So no I don’t want him back, Pens have younger and cheaper guys on the rise.

      • guitarhunterdude - Jun 25, 2014 at 11:44 PM

        Not defending the guy, but he’s not entirely wrong. Niskanen’s got similar career scoring rates to Jared Spurgeon. That’s a decent #3-4 guy, but he’s going to get paid like a top-pair guy because he put up numbers like one last year,

      • jl9830 - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:19 AM

        Niskanen’s possession numbers are actually far better than Spurgeon’s, and have been good for years. Niskanen will be paid a lot, but whoever gets him is getting a good player.

  6. bleedrangerblue - Jun 25, 2014 at 9:00 PM

    Wow if they sign Richards… Wow. What are they thinking. He doesn’t fit their scheme. WoW worst GM ever. EVER !!

    • bcisleman - Jun 25, 2014 at 11:07 PM

      Might work on the top line although he wouldn’t be my first choice. JT & Kyle are good enough that even Nash might score a few playoff goals on their line!!!

  7. 950003cups - Jun 25, 2014 at 10:47 PM

    Brad Richards? Isles looking to make a depth move. Trying to need up their 4th line.

  8. tdrusher225 - Jun 26, 2014 at 12:38 AM

    Gotta give Snow credit, he’s really giving it all he has. It’s a tough spot to be in when no one wants to come to your team, but going after Halak and Boyle is certainly showing signs that he’s got the right mindset and hopefully it pays off.

  9. rsmaggiemae - Jun 26, 2014 at 12:53 AM

    I live in Minnesota and I pay for Canadian junior hockey tv games, and Conor McDavid is a combination of McKinnon and Crosby he is that good.. just needs some experience in the NHL and some coaching in a very few areas of his game
    I hate to say this, but would hope the Wild would place last ths coming year in the standings just for a chance to get him in the draft next year… but I know that will never happen and to get him, I could not guess what you would have to give up to get him.. probably half your team
    he is that good…Who over gets first pick in next years draft, will have the dream player that comes around every 25 years…

    • d1122 - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:27 AM

      and the idiot in Garth Snow gave up a chance at getting that “Dream” player for nothing

      • jl9830 - Jun 26, 2014 at 10:20 AM

        Except they probably won’t really have a chance, since they’re going to be good this year. But by all means, don’t let that stop your rant (about a team you probably never watch play).

      • d1122 - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:06 AM

        jl9830, haha Isles are “probably” going to be good this year, you are a funny guy jl9830, Isles “may” compete for a 7th or 8th playoff spot, if that is your definition of good then I do not know what to tell you, o yea I am sure I watched this team more games then days you have been a “fan” of this team

      • islesjb - Jun 26, 2014 at 12:54 PM

        competing for a 7th or 8th spot would mean they Sabres would have 0 chance at drafting McDavid with the Isles pick… you jabronie.

        Garth Snow is an idiot for giving up a chance at getting McDavid? So a smart GM would have done his best to put a miserable team on the ice and finish dead last? Yeah, that’s an intelligent statement.

  10. anthj99 - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:28 AM

    This guy is desperately trying not to give the Sabres a good pick next year. I can’t see anything beyond that.

  11. evogel - Jun 26, 2014 at 1:57 AM

    “Snow has been given the green light to make aggressive moves in the past” is what we’ve been TOLD. Has he made those moves? No. IF he was, how effective has he been at using that green light if he’s at the cap floor ever year? I’m an Isles fan but I’m in ‘show me’ mode right now.

  12. mss627 - Jun 26, 2014 at 2:02 AM

    Snow is quickly over taking Mike Milbury as the worst GM in Islander history and that’s quite an accomplishment.

    • d1122 - Jun 26, 2014 at 3:28 AM

      Garth Snow took over the worst GM in Islanders history when he made that idiotic trade for Vanek last year, no move Milbury or any GM in the history of pro sports has made such a stupid and reckless move like that

  13. RoseTintedVisor - Jun 26, 2014 at 5:23 AM

    Snow’s logic on the Vanek deal was sound whether people see it or not.

    He wanted a finisher opposite Tavares who had chemistry with not just JT but also Kyle Okposo, something Moulson never had. And Kyle had a career year.

    The thought was sound, the execution, as is our norm, was less good.

    • d1122 - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:15 AM

      the “logic” in the Vanek deal was actually more idiotic than the deal itself, no GM who has at least 1/2 a brain would ever make a move like that

  14. youngs79 - Jun 26, 2014 at 8:43 AM

    Niskanen wants to come home. Look for the Wild to sign him.

  15. multiplemiggs - Jun 26, 2014 at 8:44 AM

    Being I am so handsome and I know everything about everything…I agree.

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