Isles GM Garth Snow has a selling point now with new arena
The Islanders know where they will be in the future. Will having a new Brooklyn address give their current players and potential free agents more peace of mind?
"A day like today provides certainty," Islanders general manager Garth Snow said after the news conference Wednesday in the lobby of Barclays Center, heralding the 2015 arrival of the Islanders. "We know where we'll be playing, and that's in a state-of-the-art facility. That's always a big asset."
There have been numerous reasons Snow hasn't been able to attract any big-name free agents the past few summers, though one potential major headache was avoided in September 2011, when John Tavares signed a six-year, $33-million extension nearly a year ahead of restricted free agency.
Snow made competitive offers to defensemen Paul Martin and Dan Hamhuis in the first week of free agency in July 2010, but both signed elsewhere; Ben Hankinson, Martin's agent, said at the time that the uncertainty of the franchise's future beyond 2015 was a factor in Martin spurning the Isles for the Penguins.
A losing team has been the biggest reason Snow has struggled to hit free-agency jackpots, with the Isles having missed the postseason for five consecutive seasons. But a new arena and a home for the future may finally be something that tips the scales in the Islanders' favor rather than turning players off.
"Sure, [a new arena] is a factor, no question," said Allan Walsh of Octagon, who represents former Islander PA Parenteau among numerous other NHL players. "It's one of several factors. It's a little early to predict how this move will play out for players, but now that they know where they will be, it's something I and my clients would certainly consider."
With the lockout in effect, the Isles are barred from communicating with their players, but players tweeted their approval.
Michael Grabner, currently playing in his hometown of Villach, Austria, posted on Twitter: "Fans and families deserve a nice arena to go watch hockey and for us it's a great facility."
Matt Moulson is still training near his offseason home in Connecticut and skating with a junior team coached by his father-in-law. He didn't have the full details on Wednesday's announcement, but he's still as excited about the Isles' future, even if his present is fairly uncertain.
"Our building in the past definitely was a little bit of a problem in getting free agents to commit long term," Moulson said. "We didn't know where we were going to be. It's exciting to finally have a new place to call home, even if it's a little bit of a tough situation right now because none of us can be in touch to find out what's happening."
Snow has always said that winning will be the thing that makes the Islanders attractive to free agents, both outside and inside the organization. With Wednesday's announcement, though, the worries about all of the Nassau Coliseum's myriad problems are starting to disappear.
"You realize [when you're at the Coliseum] that you need something new," Snow said. "That's why today is such a great day."