Saturday marked exactly 11 months since the Islanders acquired Andy Greene yet Saturday night’s game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden was just his 12th in the regular season for the team.
But there’s no doubting the 38-year-old former Devils captain is an integral part of the Islanders’ quest to better September’s berth in the Eastern Conference finals, where they lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Lightning in six games.
So, it was in both sides’ best interests that Greene, an unrestricted free agent, re-signed a one-year deal with the Islanders, which carries a salary-cap hit of $700,000 but also has $2 million in potential performance bonuses.
"We were in constant communication, we were just waiting for a few things to get done here," Greene said before Saturday’s game in his first comments since the deal was finalized on Monday. "I was pretty confident it was going to happen from kind of early on. But you never know how certain situations play out.
"It’s a win-win situation to be able to come back here and be with this group and continue to build off of what we’ve done."
Greene waived his no-trade clause to allow his former Devils’ boss, Lou Lamoriello, to bring him to the Islanders for a second-round pick this year and minor-league defenseman David Quenneville on Feb. 16. Not uprooting his wife and young children after 14 seasons with the Devils was crucial to Greene both accepting the deal and then re-signing with the Islanders.
He came to the Islanders to make up for the loss of defenseman Adam Pelech, then out with a torn Achilles’ tendon. Now, Greene has solidified his spot among the Islanders’ top six defenseman, paired with sophomore Noah Dobson, with Devon Toews traded to the Avalanche because of cap concerns and Johnny Boychuk unable to continue his career because of an eye injury.
Greene logged 16:48 in the Islanders’ dominating 4-0 win over the Rangers in Thursday night’s season-opener for both teams, tying Pelech with a game-high four blocked shots. That included 2:37 on the Islanders’ 3-for-3 penalty kill.
"I think it was a big priority," coach Barry Trotz said of getting Greene re-signed this offseason. "Those are two big holes so you’re trying to sort of emulate that. You have Andy Greene, who is a terrific penalty killer, a little bit more of a cerebral player than Johnny. He’s playing with Dobber who is a young, developing defenseman and has to probably fill some of that void left by Toewser, running the power play."
Greene developed some strong chemistry with Dobson before last season was halted on March 12. Dobson played in just one of the Islanders’ 22 postseason games while Greene dressed for all but one, with two goals and two assists.
"He got into that last game there and I think that was huge for him, to be around that," Greene said of Dobson playing in the Islanders’ 2-1 overtime loss to the Lightning in Game 6 of the conference finals. "To be in that atmosphere and to be able to practice and work out and train and just see what it takes, I think he’s just picked up where we left off. He’s a tremendous player and skater. A lot of skill and makes all the plays."
Greene is looking forward to seeing Dobson’s development firsthand.
And to spending a full, uninterrupted season with the Islanders.
"It’s only probably been, what, 10, 11, 12 regular-season games I’ve been here?" Greene said. "It’s almost a calendar year and it’s just been crazy. But it’s a great team, a great group of guys. Very welcoming."