Hamrlik Receives Islanders' Offer
by Alan Hahn
If you think June and early July was a busy time for the renovating
Islanders, August certainly doesn't offer a break. With four key
restricted free agents to sign (ideally) before training camp opens
Sept. 8, a lot of work is left to be done before the Islanders can
say they are ready to begin the 2000-01 season and possibly contend
for a playoff spot.
While each of the negotiations are still in preliminary stages,
general manager Mike Milbury has made an offer to defenseman Roman
Hamrlik, who could be the most crucial signing. Hamrlik, who just
after being traded to the Islanders in June said he was seeking a
long-term deal, has been offered a six-year contract valued at about
$25 million, according to those with knowledge of the negotiations.
The contract would raise Hamrlik's average annual salary from $2.5
million last season to about $4 million.
Milbury, in Bridgeport, Conn., yesterday to attend a news conference
announcing the Islanders' minor-league agreement with the city's new
AHL franchise, only acknowledged offering a "very long-term" contract
that would make him the highest paid player on the Islanders' rapidly
Goalie John Vanbiesbrouck will make $3.5 million, but about $1.2
million of it is being paid by the Philadelphia Flyers as per a trade
One possible sticking point in the deal is that the final two years
overlap Hamrlik's first years of unrestricted free-agent eligibility.
The other is that it is less than the contract Carolina inked with
comparable defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh (five years at $25.5 million).
It has been suggested that the Islanders might trade Hamrlik if they
can't sign him, but Milbury dismissed any talk of a trade. He said he
is awaiting a counterproposal from Hamrlik's agent, Jiri Crha.
As for other restricted players, Milbury will not budge on his one-
year, $1.85-million qualifying offer to captain Kenny Jonsson, who
reportedly is seeking a raise but opted against salary arbitration.
Defenseman Zdeno Chara and forward Brad Isbister are not yet
arbitration-eligible and therefore are facing qualifying offers, as
well, with little leverage to negotiate.
The next signing the team is expected to announce will likely be 1999
first-round pick Taylor Pyatt, who could be signed by this weekend.
Pyatt's agent, Steve Reich, said "a lot of progress" had been made in
negotiations for the 19-year-old left wing, who had 40 goals and 89
points in 68 games for Sudbury (OHL) last season.
The Bridgeport Connection. Islanders founder and former owner Roy Boe
is officially back in the Islanders family. He will head a new AHL
franchise in Bridgeport, with which the Islanders have agreed to an
affiliation starting in 2001-02. The new team will play in a proposed
$52-million, 8,500-seat arena located on the revitalized harbor off
the Long Island Sound, a 90-minute ferry ride to Port Jefferson and a
mere 60 miles from Nassau Coliseum. The team's website,
www.bridgeporthockey.com, is holding a Name the Team contest,
offering suggestions from "Scrappers" to "Shore Dogs." The Islanders
will continue to share an AHL affiliation with the Los Angeles Kings
in Lowell, Mass., for this season.