Islanders sign Evgeni Nabokov and Travis Hamonic
The Islanders made a few smaller additions in the minutes after the opening of NHL free agency Friday, but the biggest moves general manager Garth Snow made were to keep two players in the fold.
Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov returned on a one-year, $3.25- million deal and defenseman Travis Hamonic, a restricted free agent, signed on for seven years at $27 million total.
Add in a one-year, $2-million deal for forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard, formerly of the Wild, and a one-year, $750,000 deal for former Senators forward Peter Regin, and it was a relatively busy day for the Islanders.
The biggest deal was Hamonic's. The 22-year-old defenseman was elated that his agent and Snow could come to terms on a deal that will take him three seasons into his eligibility for unrestricted free agency.
"We're building something special here," Hamonic told Newsday after the contract was done. "I never would have signed for this long if I didn't truly believe that. Seven years is a long time. To me, that's enough time to win a couple Stanley Cups."
Snow approached the opening day of free agency the way he always has: looking to fill holes but without getting caught up in the big-money frenzy of the day.
The biggest hole for the Islanders was in goal. The team had interest in Ray Emery, but he was focused on signing with the Flyers, so Snow turned to Nabokov, a veteran who backstopped the Isles to the playoffs this past season.
As Nabokov put it, things had "gone quiet" in talks between his side and the Islanders during the past few weeks. But the camps agreed just after the market opened at noon, and Nabokov was wise to jump; the goaltender market proved to be weak.
"You want to go where they want you," Nabokov said. "It's nice to go where you want, but the organization has to want you, as well. That's how it worked out."
Bouchard, 29, would appear to be Snow's latest under-the-radar addition to pair with John Tavares. The playmaking forward struggled through concussion issues the past few seasons but had eight goals and 12 assists in 43 games this past season, his 10th with the Wild.
Regin, 27, is from the same town in Denmark, Herning, as Isles center Frans Nielsen. He also has been derailed by injury the past few seasons but will provide speed and depth up front.
"Both of those guys are highly skilled players who can produce offense; they've just been hit with the injury bug at times," Snow said. "We'll work at keeping them healthy and they should be solid contributors for our team."
Snow now likely will turn his attention to re-signing restricted free agent Josh Bailey, who told Newsday he is "optimistic" that a new deal will be signed in the coming weeks. The Isles are close to signing defenseman Thomas Hickey to a two-year contract.
Those deals would give the Isles 19 skaters with one-way contracts, meaning the only other major moves Snow will make this offseason likely will come via trade.