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Snow can't hook top defensemen

FILE - New York Islanders General Manager Garth

FILE - New York Islanders General Manager Garth Snow speaks at the podium during the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft at the Bell Centre. (June 26, 2009) Photo Credit: Getty Images

Although players were flying off the shelves in an action-packed, frenzied first day of free agency, the Islanders did not go home with a shiny new toy Thursday.

It wasn't for lack of trying.

The Islanders were interested in several of the consensus top-five defensemen - Zbynek Michalek, Sergei Gonchar, Paul Martin, Anton Volchenkov and Dan Hamhuis - and even were willing to outbid other teams for them.

According to multiple sources, the Islanders doggedly pursued Martin and Hamhuis and offered both more money than what they ultimately signed for in Pittsburgh (five years/$25 million) and Vancouver (six years/$27 million), respectively.

"Garth was really aggressive in trying to sign Paul," said Martin's agent, Ben Hankinson, who added that Snow talked to the former Devils defenseman personally.

Hamhuis' agent, Wade Arnott, echoed Snow's interest in his client.

"Garth made a real concerted effort to sign [Hamhuis]," Arnott said in an e-mail to Newsday last night.

Although he tried to become a frontrunner with both Martin and Hamhuis by opening up the Islanders' wallet, Snow still might be hamstrung by several factors, namely an antiquated facility and the lingering concerns about the team's future location.

Michalek, Gonchar, Martin, Volchenkov and Hamhuis had an easy time garnering interest. All five fetched multiyear deals worth at least $4 million.

Other enticing prospects who might have been of interest to the Islanders - Toni Lydman, Henrik Tallinder and Kurtis Foster - all signed deals elsewhere yesterday, with Tallinder going to the Devils.

Several of the Islanders' unrestricted free agents found work. Backup goaltender Martin Biron landed a two-year deal worth $1.75 million with the Rangers. Castoffs Jeff Tambellini and Tim Jackman left for the Western Conference. Tambellini signed a one-year deal to play for the Canucks and Jackman signed a two-year deal with the Calgary Flames.

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