The New York Islanders were active in the off season, especially between the pipes, an area that was an issue for the team over the past two years.
Evgeni Nabokov was a solid goaltender in the NHL for many, many years. He served as the backbone to a San Jose Sharks team that was in the playoffs every season and was the goaltender that saw the Isles return to the postseason for the first time since 2006-07 when the Isles qualified during the lockout shortened campaign, but it was time for Nabby to either move into a backup role on Long Island or move on. He chose the latter.
In his wake the Islanders traded for, and ultimately signed their starting goaltender for the next few seasons (if all goes to plan, I never make declarations about goaltenders lasting a long time since Rick DiPietro) in Jaroslav Halak.
Halak, 29, has been a solid NHL goalie his entire career putting up a career 2.38 goals against and .918 save percentage, but has never truly been given a shot to be the man anywhere, having played more than 50 games only twice in eight years, and never eclipsing the 60 appearance plateau. The Isles are likely looking for him to do just that this season and going forward.
The Isles also signed a backup for Halak this offseason to complete their goaltending overhaul, inking Chad Johnson. Johnson, 28, had his best season as a pro last year, playing in 27 games for the Boston Bruins, posting a 2.10 goals against average and a .925 save percentage. Those numbers are guady, but do not expect him to challenge Halak in any way for the starting role.
Speaking of numbers; Johnson has worn numbers 29, 30, and 31 in his career in the NHL. Dude, wear 85, everyone wants you to. I’ll buy your jersey if it’s got 85 on the back (there’s a ZERO percent chance he reads this by the way).
I must give general manager Garth Snow credit for the job he did rebuilding the Isles goaltending corps, which was in need of a serious overhaul. The team was never going to get a big name target like Ryan Miller, acquiring Halak and Johnson was as good a job as he could have possibly done.