Friday, July 10, 2009

Does Alex Tanguay Make Sense?

When we look at the projected Islanders line-up for next season, we are able to notice two things: several important overall changes and several gaping holes that still remain. Obviously the addition of John Tavares will be a pleasant change to an offensively starved lineup, as long as he can transcend his OHL scoring abilities to the NHL level. Besides his marketability, Tavares brings a level of excitement that the organization has lacked for a very, very long time. Secondly, there will be a very healthy competition between Dwayne Roloson and Rick DiPietro for the position of number one goalie for the 2009-2010 New York Islanders. The reason I use the phrase “healthy competition” is that there is no way DiPietro can be considered a number one at this point in time, taking into account the fact he hasn’t appeared in a hockey game in several months, and furthermore, he hasn’t played consistent hockey for well over a year. Scary to think he is signed for so much longer and we are already in this situation.

As for the holes in the line-up, they are much more visible than the changes. First off, with the addition of John Tavares comes the need to not only protect him, but also to protect Kyle Okposo, Sean Bergenheim, Josh Bailey, and the rest of the Islanders youthful core. This protection could have come in the form of Colton Orr, Donald Brashear, or several other free agent enforcers; however, these players and other decent enforcers are no longer available, as they have signed contracts for next season. Looking at the way the market has played out, and who is available to be the fourth-line enforcer, it seems as if the best option would be to try and acquire an enforcer through a trade. I will eventually delve deeper into this, just not today, as this isn’t the focus of my article today.

The focus of my article will be placed upon the gaping holes on offense. While the Islanders have a promising core of players already in the NHL, including the likes of John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, and Sean Bergenheim, there is a dearth of experienced talent up front who can help to move along the rebuild. Considering this is a rebuild, any free-agent acquisition should meet certain criteria: first, he should be able to contribute to the Islanders for at least another 5 years (a player who is 30 or 31 would be the cutoff age, in my opinion), second, they should be a proven top-6 forward who can provide support not only 5-on-5, but also on the power-play (if they can be an effective penalty-killer, hats off to them), lastly, not only should they fit into the system, but they should be acquired for a position where the Islanders lack organizational depth (right and left wing, specifically).

When you think of a player in these terms, several players who were free-agents this year come to mind: Alex Tanguay, Alex Kovalev, Michael Cammalleri, Marian Hossa….you get the picture. There was a decent wealth of talent that Snow could have looked into, however, he chose not to. I can understand his reluctance to sign Hossa to an absurd twelve year deal, and I can also understand his reluctance to cough up the money for Kovalev (yes, they did speak, but do we really need Yashin 2.0 around here?), but I believe that Cammalleri was someone who could have contributed positively around here (even if he is a little on the smaller side), and I do believe that the Islanders should take a long look at Tanguay, who is still available. Will this statement draw some heat, of course it will, but I am very sincere in saying I believe that Tanguay will have a positive impact for several reasons.

At only 29 years old, Alex Tanguay is just entering into the prime of his National Hockey League career. At 6’1 and 190 pounds, he is not small by any means, and he is a very deft skater, which is something required by Scott Gordon’s high-pressure system. Granted he has struggled with some injuries over the past two seasons, he has still put up very good numbers.

In the 2007-2008 season with the Calgary Flames, Tanguay appeared in 78 games, registering 18 goals and 40 assists for a total of 58 points. Are these totals a little low for him? Yes, they are. To be fair though, Tanguay was struggling with several injuries all year long, and he still managed to appear in 78 games and put up fair numbers.

In the 2008-2009 season, by far his most unfortunate season of his career, Tanguay was only able to appear in 50 games for the Montreal Canadiens due to a shoulder injury. In the fifty games he did play, though, Tanguay was able to produce at a fair pace, registering 16 goals and 25 assists for 41 points.

To give you an idea of the potential that Tanguay has, in the three seasons prior to the 2007-2008 season, Tanguay registered 79 points, 78 points, and 81 points respectively. These are the kind of totals that can be expected out of a healthy Alex Tanguay, even with a mediocre line-up surrounding him.

Tanguay is a phenomenal passer, and he is constantly aware of the location of his teammates on the ice. When he is placed on a line with a lethal scorer, he becomes that much more valuable, as you can tell by his years of playing on a line with Milan Hejduk in Colorado. On the defensive side of the puck, he is not lazy by any means. With his speed and skating ability, Tanguay has always been able to provide a speedy forecheck, and still make sure to be defensively responsible. To his credit, his shoulder has been examined numerous times since the end of the season, and he appears to be 100% healthy and ready to go for the upcoming season.

With his experience and skill, coupled with the fact that all the doctors believe he is ready to go, he would look great on a line with Doug Weight and John Tavares. Not only would he help the Islanders 5-on-5 play, but he would help to make a woeful power play much better. His tremendous passing ability, coupled with the fact he knows when to shoot and when to pass, could help to create a power-play that could finish in the top ten in the league this year.

As is with any player, the value and length must be reasonable. Granted he has had two injury-plagued seasons over the past two years, Tanguay knows his value to a team, and every team in the NHL understands what he brings to the table. It would not be unreasonable to think that the Islanders are looking to offer Tanguay a three-year deal, somewhere in the range of $4 million per season. Many will think this is over-priced, but take a look at the market today. Players like Antropov, who have never registered more than 56 points in a single season, are receiving contracts worth $4 million per year. Considering the Islanders are well under the cap, it would make sense to bring in an offensive talented and speedy winger like Tanguay to help move along the rebuild.

I hope you would agree.

-Justin

7 comments:

RichardPark10 said...

Wow, Justin. I was a little on the iffy side with Tanguay, but this definitely puts him into a better perspective. Sign him up to be Tavares' winger.

Glen Miller said...

I think he would fit on the Isles but the question is does he want to wait 3 years for the Isles to be a Stanley Cup contender or would he rather take a little less to sign with a contender.

Certainly the Isles need a veteran scoring forward to smooth the transition for Tavares. They do have Weight who signed on to help the youngsters for another year. good job Justin.

Netminder 39 said...

Justin:

To emphasize your point, Tanguay can play either side of the wing. If he is signed, then, assuming no trades are made, Hunter is again your third line RW, watch for Sim to be placed on waivers again, and Comeau becomes a fourth line LW and you have a line of Comeau-Park-Jackman.

As far as an enforcer goes, you still have Andre Roy, and UFA from Calgary. Bio: 6-3 202 lbs, and he's a fighter. They could use him whenever. Just a thought.

NYIsles16 said...

Yes, Tanguay would be a very valuable asset because of that ability to play both sides. Furthermore, if placed on a line with Tavares and Weight (Doug obviously being the center), they could experiment with which side Tavares is more comfortable without having a negative impact on Tanguay.

As for Andre Roy, it will be interesting to see where he goes. I have a feeling that the Islanders are looking towards a trade to land an enforcer more than through free agency. Just a feeling though.

-Justin

Anonymous said...

What do you think of taking a run at Zherdev? He will be UFA. 24 years old, former top 5 pick, tons of skill but sketchy character.

NYIsles16 said...

Hey Anonymous,

Well, Zherdev would be quite tricky. He has a tremendous level of talent in the bag, however, the biggest question is motivation. I would take a look down at Glen's blog entitled "Reconsidering Nikolai Zherdev." It helps to gauge exactly his value and what he brings to the table, even if it is for the Rangers. It's a big risk, and I think it will depend on what he is given during arbitration. To be fair though, we'd need to give up draft picks to the Rangers considering they own his rights as an RFA.

Thanks for reading!

-Justin

Glen Miller said...

I think since the Rangers grabbed Kotalik, Zherdev is done with the Rangers. However, I think that he will end up in Russia with the KHL. That seems to be the direction he is going. Personally, with the roster the Isles are constrcting, I would stay away from Zherdev. I would rather take a veteran player that is more predictable. Zherdev and his underachievement may not be such a good fit on a young team like that.