Busy, busy, busy.
Islanders general manager Mike Milbury has barely slowed down since
his whirlwind day at the entry draft in Calgary over a month ago.
Last week saw a flurry of signings along with the welcome of goalie
Rick DiPietro to Nassau Coliseum.
Hard on the heels of inking the 18-year-old goalie to a three-year
term -- which includes a $1.05 million per year base and bonuses that
could up his total take to $10 million -- Milbury signed six players,
largely for depth purposes. They are the kind of acquisitions that
would have been unthinkable a year ago, when the Isles had the
league's lowest payroll at $16 million under previous ownership.
So it was fitting that Islanders co-owner Charles Wang stood front
and center with DiPietro at last week's press conference as the young
netminder pulled on an Isles sweater and smiled for the cameras.
"We're betting on him in a big way," said Milbury, who selected
DiPietro with the No. 1 overall pick in the June draft, then dealt
away the franchise's blue-chip goalie prospect, Roberto Luongo and
last year's No. 1, Kevin Weekes, in separate deals.
Just days after the DiPietro love-in, the Islanders signed three free
agent forwards: Robert Petrovicky, Jeff Toms and Jesse Belanger. The
following day, Milbury inked three veteran defensemen: Dan Trebil,
Aris Brimanis and Ray Schultz. Brimanis and Schultz were in the Isles
"These are the kind of quality depth players we haven't been able to
sign in the past," Milbury said.
The rundown on the new faces:
Belanger, 31, has played parts of seven seasons with Montreal,
Florida, Vancouver and Edmonton.
Brimanis, 28, scored two goals in 18 games in his callup with the
Isles last season.
Petrovicky, a 26-year-old center, played 42 games last season with
Tampa Bay (7-10-17) and appeared in seven games with Grand Rapids
The 23-year-old Schultz played in Kansas City (IHL) last season.
Milbury likes his 208 PIM total.
Toms, a 6-5, 200-pound right wing, split last season between the
Washington Capitals (1-3--4 in 20 games) and Portland (AHL, 16-21--
37in 22 games).
Trebil, 26, came out of the Pittsburgh system and was named to the
AHL All-Star team last season while playing for Cincinnati (7-21--28
in 52 games).
NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES
Milbury was aware that his bold move to bank the future on DiPietro
meant he was gambling his future as Isles GM.
"But when I get fired," Milbury said, "he'll still be playing."
DiPietro didn't make any brash statements about coming in to win the
No. 1 job (likely to be John Vanbiesbrouck's at the start of the
season) in training camp.
"It's a lot of pressure," he said. "I'm more excited and anxious to
get started ... Hopefully, I won't let them down."
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
With DiPietro signed, and five restricted free agents and two 1999
draft picks still left to ink deals before training camp, the
Islanders' payroll could conceivably reach the NHL average of $30
million by the time the season opens. ... Captain Kenny Jonsson may
not be part of that sum. After refusing salary arbitration, Jonsson
is also refusing the $1.85 million qualifying offer (for either one
or two years, Jonsson's option). His only other option is to sit out
in hopes of a new deal or a trade.