Garth Snow offered few specifics on how he plans to improve the Islanders this offseason but said he’ll “leave no stone unturned” in trying to get the team to be a Stanley Cup contender.
“I obviously have the same mentality going into this offseason in the 10 years I’ve been here,” Snow said on a conference call Thursday. “We’re looking to take the next step. We’re coming off another 100-point season, but for us it’s not good enough. We’re looking to get better like every team in the league.”
The Islanders were eliminated on Sunday by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference semifinals, the first time the Islanders reached the second playoff round since 1993.
Snow got some good news on Tuesday when Travis Hamonic rescinded his trade request from before the 2015-16 season began, but the general manager still has to wrangle with the pending free agency of Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin, three of the longest-tenured Islanders.
“That’s the challenge for us,” Snow said. “We need to devise a way to keep all three. Whether that can happen, I can’t answer that right now. We want to maintain the positive strides we’ve made in the recent past and take that step to the next level.”
Snow was vague on what he’s looking to do, noting that it’s still too early in the offseason to know what players might be available via trade or who will make it to unrestricted free agency on July 1.
“Whether a winger for John (Tavares), the addition of a goalie, upgrading our defense, we leave no stone unturned to improve our club,” Snow said. “I’m not going to get into specific positions, those opportunities will unfold here, especially leading up to the draft.”
July 1 is also the date that Charles Wang cedes majority control of the team to Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky. Snow had high praise for Wang, who hired Snow just a few weeks after Snow retired as the team’s backup goaltender, and also for his new bosses.
“I’ve had the great opportunity to work with a fantastic owner in Charles Wang, a very special person who’s touched everyone in this organization,” Snow said. “When I first got here in 2001, it was an organization that didn’t have the best reputation due to prior ownerships and how the team was run. Charles bought the team and the culture instantly changed. Now, when players are here they don’t want to leave. Players from other teams realize how good the environment is.
“I’ve had a great opportunity to work with Scott and Jon, I know they want to continue the culture established by Charles. Really looking forward to the transition. And Charles will still be involved. Scott and Jon have been a treat for me to get to know over the last year and a half.
“New ownership won’t have any impact on what we’re doing this offseason.”