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Published on June 10th, 2013 | by Jesse Dakss


Exclusive: Q&A With Islanders GM Garth Snow

Tonight at 7 PM, on a rainy off-season night for the New York Islanders, GM Garth Snow attended a Q&A session with the Islanders Booster Club. I chose to wait to write up a full article about his thoughts and answers, rather than tweeting out little tidbits because I felt it was necessary to include direct quotes. If you’d like to look at a few tweet highlights, you can definitely find them on the Twittersphere. I’ll bring up a topic and then provide direct quotes from Garth as well as a bit of analysis from time to time.

First, a funny Garth quote: “I’ll answer some questions, and some I’ll BS you.”

GOALTENDING SITUATION When asked if he’ll be going outside the organization for a goaltender, “We have a couple of avenues we could go. We could bring Nabby back, for a year, buy some time for Poulin and Nilsson. We could go outside the organization. We’ll know within the next three weeks which direction we’re looking to go. But i’m completely comfortable with Nabby, in the regular season he was one of the mainstays on our team, and he’s one of the leaders in the locker room as well. We have a few different options, but right now i’m talking to Nabby and his agent, and we’ll see where that leads.”

RICK DIPIETRO When asked about the reports of Snow looking to trade a pick or a prospect to a team to take DP’s contract off the Isles hands, he said “That article was totally untrue. We haven’t made a decision yet on Rick because we don’t need to yet.” Hmm.. to me, it sounded like DP will be gone, but there’s no way Garth would announce something like that.

PAYROLL When asked if Barclay’s Center would bring a higher payroll, Snow gave corpoate speak. “Anytime i’ve ever went to Charles and asked him for money i’ve never had a stop sign. One of the reasons our payroll is so low is because we’re such a young team.” He then cited JT’s pay increasing, and saying that Bailey and Hamonic’s pay will also increase.

STREIT “For this room, Mark’s probably not going to be coming back. For us, we need to create space for the Matt Donovan’s of the organization, who’s earned a right. We have to create an opportunity for younger players that deserve it in Bridgeport.” And he also flat out said, when the question was followed up, “We need to create a roster spot for Matt Donovan to make our team” So, to me, it sounds like we won’t be acquiring a top 4 defenseman from outside the organization. When I followed up later in the session and asked him about if he feels asking a rookie such as Donovan to take on such a big role ( the one that Streit had), he cited Brian Strait’s pre-injury play. “I feel that Strait is a top 4 defenseman in this league.”

So, there you have it, we will most likely have a top 4 of Hamonic, Amac, Lubo, and Strait this season. He obviously didn’t rule out acquiring somebody from outside the organization, but from the way he kept propping up Donovan the entire 90 minutes of the Q&A, i’d have to believe that Donovan will be in our top 6 and Strait in our top 4. Not sure that’s such a positive, in my opinion. Strait’s pre-injury play was good, and probably top-4 worthy, but it’s a bit risky to rely on him to return to that state. He didn’t look as good coming back from the injury… but it was a rather quick process, while breaking an ankle usually takes a bit longer. Hopefully with a full training camp and off-season of working out, he’ll come back 100% and be able to achieve that level of play that he had earlier in the season. But I do love the fact that Donovan’s finally getting the chance to make it. I thought he looked good in his few games here last season, and was kind of curious why they picked up Hickey, Strait and Martinek with Donovan down there waiting. Thankfully (IMO) Garth hasn’t given up on him, and he’ll definitely be on our NHL club next year. “His strength, for anybody who’s been in Bridgeport to watch him, is jumping up in the play, creating offense, he was great on the power play there, and he’s got a little bit of a mean streak in the defensive zone. He’ll compete on the wall battles and make sure he doesn’t get beat to the front of the net.”

A FREE AGENT FORWARD? “If you look at what our roster potentially looked like last summer.. younger guys, place holders, if a situation arises like it did last year where we could make our team better- a trade, signing, July 5th, we’ll do it. There’s also going to be players available from buyouts, when we get closer to free agency we’ll know.”

Tim Thomas

TIM THOMAS “He won’t be our property come July 5th. The reason we did that trade at the time- We were in a situation where we had Lubo Visnovsky, who was suspended and hadn’t reported yet. We had 20 days to be compliant with the salary cap. I didn’t want to mess with the chemistry that was going on in the room and we had a discussion as a team with the players and for me, the best way to achieve what we needed to do within that 20 day time frame was to trade for Tim Thomas… It was a bit of an unknown if [Lubo] was going to stay.” When asked if the players were aware of the trade prior to it being made, Garth said yes. “One of the first people that I talked to was Nabby, to let him know he was our guy, and we were going to play him.. the players were aware of why the move was made and I don’t think it was a reason why we did or didn’t play well after the trade.” The bold was a big sticking point for many that would form their opinion of the trade. I don’t think it was such an awful thing, but some have the opinion that it was him giving up on the season. Now that we know the players knew about it, I feel even more strongly that it was not him giving up on the team at all, rather showing that he felt confident with Nabokov and the team we had.

BROOKLYN/JERSEY/COLORS “I’m not gonna get into the whole Brooklyn situation. To my knowledge, it’ll be all the same jerseys and colors. Will there be a new third jersey? Probably. Our focus regarding jerseys has been to come up with an outdoor jersey. It won’t be too much different than what we wear now but every team has a different jersey that they wear for it. I can say from the pictures of it, it’s a sharp jersey. I think everybody will like it, but it won’t be drastically different from what we wear now. The information I have is that we’re going to keep the same logo, the same history.”

CALVIN DEHAAN On his status, Garth said “unlucky.” “We haven’t given up on Calvin. Because he’s been out of sight, people put him out of mind. If you ask me where I see him starting, Bridgeport. The competition is good, and I think one thing that picking up 4 guys we picked up off waivers that we had scouted heavily, it created a competitive environment”

ERIC BOULTON/FIGHTERS I asked Garth how many games he saw Boulton playing this year: “That’s a situation where I know he came in at the end of the season.. when we were playing in Toronto, Buffalo, teams that had that element in their game and he’s one of those players that I talked about earlier that don’t get enough recognition from the outside but is very well-respected guy in the room and he’s a great person to have on your team when the game takes a turn in another direction.

I then gave Garth my opinion on the topic and said to him: “But I feel like, if a player’s playing a game like that,  only 6-8 minutes a game at even strength… Let’s say, for example, a team like Toronto will play Colton Orr.. they’ll have him on the ice for 8 minutes. But if you can have a player like Ullstrom in the lineup, because Orr won’t fight Ullstrom, you could kind of neutralize that and make Orr a non-factor in the game. Then you could use that extra element of speed.”

Garth replied: “I like that (toughness) element in our organization. It’s a matter of opinion, every GM feels differently. I respect your opinion.. I just think if you asked players in our locker room if they want Eric Boulton on the ice, they’d all say yes.”


RYAN STROME When I asked him if he feels Strome will make the team, and if so, will it be at center or at wing like he played in Bridgeport: “Depends on what happens between now and July 5th and September.. but I’d envision him starting in Bridgeport. With the prospects that we have now, we can take our time and let them marinate in the AHL and have success there. Sometimes it’s even wrong to say that because I don’t want to discourage Ryan, I want him to train hard and make our team, and hopefully he has a good camp and makes the decision hard on us as a staff.” I actually like this, because I feel that Strome is a bit small and could definitely benefit from time in the AHL. It also leads me to believe we may be acquiring a forward from outside the organization.. especially with the way that Snow said in the bolded print. Referring to July 5th specifically shows they may be trying to acquire a free agent or two.

NINO NIEDERREITER “I have no issue with Nino.. We had a 6 day training camp, we didn’t want to bring 7 lines.. we wanted to bring as close to the four lines that we felt would be on the team as possible. I’m not going to speak for his agent. Obviously he wasn’t happy that Nino wasn’t here, but I felt we made the right decision, having him play 20 minutes a night at Bridgeport. It’s a non-issue for me, and I can’t control the agent.”

TRADING THE FIRST ROUND PICK When asked if he’d entertain the thought of trading the first round pick this year, he said “Absolutely. We’re going to listen to what other GMs have to offer. Do I think it will happen? Probably not, but there’s still a lot of time between now and June 30th” Garth kept referring to trading the pick throughout the night, so I think if he gets the price he wants for it (hopefully part of a package for an established player), he’s going to pull the trigger. He also didn’t rule out moving up or moving down…and specifically said later in the night “If we end up using the pick, we’ll get a quality player.” Sounds to me like he’s anticipating possibly trading it.

GRABNER GETTING MORE PLAYING TIME “It’s definitely an option for the team.. those are healthy discussions that we have with the coaching staff during the off-season. He’s definitely great in front of the net”

Random thoughts and other little tidbits, that I felt a direct quote wasn’t necessary for because I don’t want this article to be 5000 words long:

-We’ll most likely be starting the year with 8 defenseman, as we did last season.

-He wants Bailey to be here long term, but it all depends on the money that his agent wants.

-He was very high on Nelson and Donovan the entire time, so expect them both to be on the team.

-He brought up something interesting. Once they move to Brooklyn, they may renovate ice works and do pre-game skates there in the afternoon, open to the public. They may even start getting hotel rooms the night before home game and having pre-game skates, or sessions during an off day, at the Barclays Center soon.

-We’re probably going to be drafting a goalie this year, because he said we haven’t in a while.

That marks the end of that question and answer session. Overall, I feel good about the direction the team is going in. I find it a bit concerning that he doesn’t seem to be making an addition to the defense, but we’ll have to just hope Strait and Donovan can combine to replace Streit’s minutes. I think the chances of us acquiring somebody from outside the organization for a forward or goalie slot are pretty high, after tonight. What do you all think?

About the Author

Jesse Dakss

Jesse is a 19 year old student at SUNY Binghamton. He's also a co-owner of the site and has been on board since the beginning, June 2013. He became an Islanders fan due to his neighbor, going against his father who is a Rangers fan. In addition to the Isles, Jesse loves the Yankees, Giants and Nets.

23 Responses to Exclusive: Q&A With Islanders GM Garth Snow

  1. Giuseppe Mastropaolo says:

    Get Job Jesse Thanks for the coverage Go Islanders

  2. Rob says:

    Good coverage of it.

    I agree with you on the concern of not signing another defenseman. There is an awful lot of faith being placed on Brian Strait It was a cheap extension they gave him earlier in the season but it was a sign that he’s here to stay for the next season or two. I hope their faith in him makes his play step up for the upcoming season.

  3. Mike says:

    Thanks a lot for the great coverage and Snow’s expectations for the offseason. Great work, and hopefully we see moves being made to acquire a 1st line RW

  4. Pat Smith says:

    I’ve been very strong on Donavan since hes been drafted so I love the fact that he’s getting some love. We used all those draft picks for a reason, I wanna see them play. I think what you wrote about the draft pretty much totally reinforced my opinions and predictions so that was pretty cool. Thanks for the coverage, great job!

  5. Nate says:

    Great article as usual, you guys are awesome.

  6. JPinVA says:

    Thanks for the coverage. The whole defensive corps thing is the most important question of the summer. Donovan seems to be ready to replace Streit everywhere but on the PP1 point… I wonder if they’ll put Hamonic’s RH shot on PP1, and let Donovan/Okposo (RH shot) work the PP2 points.

  7. justin says:

    random thought – big Charles should get a “hockey train” to shuttle players to and from ice works and Barclays center – it should be a steam engine and him and Garth can take turns driving it and blowing the whistle.

  8. PhishPuss says:

    Great question and answer, love the additional Isles nation site

  9. Claude Funston says:

    There was a time when it appeared that Mikko Koskinen was the future (and also high-end) goaltender. Now you don’t even hear about him anymore. What happened? Why is he not even considered? I thought he was going to be a star?

    • Pete Truszkowski Pete says:

      he came over to North America, was average in Bridgeport, pretty poor in his few starts with the Isles, went back to Europe and started playing well again..

      Now does that mean he will get another shot with the Isles? Or does it mean he’s staying in Europe for good? Who knows.

  10. Johnny hockey says:

    Its sounds like Donovan and Nelson are locks to make the team which is great, but Im not happy their not going to add a top 4 defenseman.(Edler would’ve been nice). I dont mind signing Nabby but I really want them to go after Bernier. A new toy for Johnny on the right side would be good also.(Horton or Vanek). He didnt seem like he thought Strome would make the team which surpises me since he is our top prospect. I always thought he would be our 2nd line center and Nelson would take over for Nielson as the 3rd line center at some point.

  11. P.stone says:

    I understand the concern about a D-man, but think – 6 main D-spots: Hamonic, AMac, Lubo, Donovan, Hickey and Strait. Lets assume Hamonic and Amac get their deals and are here for next 4-5yrs. Lubo & Strait have 2-3 yrs each. Those slots become 2 of the following: Reinhart, Pokka, Mayfield, Pelach, Pedan, DeHann, Ness, etc (this yrs draft?). If they bring in a Top4 guy (figure 4-5 yr $20-30 mil type guy), where does these guys come in to? I am not counting on all of them, but figure a couple make it: say Reinhart as a top-pair type guy and 1 or 2 of the others as a 2nd or 3rd pair d-man. They will get stuck if we bring in someone on a long term deal. To trade for a 1 yr guy – not sure it gains us much.

    What do people think will happen with the young forwards? Who will be with JT & Moulson? Where will Nino play (NOT 4th line!!!)? Does Nino get a chance on a line with JT or do they put Nino and Brock together (worked in B-port) on a 3rd line and put Grabner with JT (drive other teams D-lines crazy?)

  12. Dan says:

    Great job Jesse. Keep it up.

  13. Mike says:

    The whole reason we have guys like Boulton on the ice is to ensure that guys like Colton Orr arent taking liberties on Tavares & Co. without any worry of someone setting you straight. Building a team with no toughness and just guys who can skate doesnt win in this league, never has. Boulton has a higher value than most think, and even though he might only play 8-10 min a game (usually not even), he still serves a valuable purpose as playing a role as a protector and stand-up guy to players trying to push our top guns around.

  14. IMHT7 says:

    210277 129432So funcy to see the article within this blog. Thank you for posting it 324037

  15. Alex Tessler Alex says:

    Mike, that argument is used a lot and is, IMO, very misleading. How many minutes is Colton Orr on the ice? 3? 4? And probably not with JT out there as well. Who has taken liberties with JT in recent years? Matt Cooke? Dion Phaneuf? Those are regular minute guys who will be out there with JT at the same time. If you want to “protect” JT, give him a hard nosed PWF.

  16. Very good article and very informative.

    As far as the defense goes, this group really came around towards the end of the season and if the system works, then adding someone like Donovan who is already familiar with the system makes more sense. Streit was not a top 4 by seasons end anyways.

    If fans are looking for a free agent, you may want to notice which RW get’s bought out of a contract. The free agents are either too old or possibly too expensive for the Islanders. A bought out player may sign a short term deal where as a free agent may want a long term deal, which won’t work on the Island because of the prospects. Just a thought.

  17. Steve says:

    I am very nervous about this move to Brooklyn. The CEO of Barclays is talking about introducing small doses of black/white into the jerseys, stating that they are “the colors of brooklyn”. I also understand that the 3rd jerseys may say Brooklyn on them. These corporate shysters are all the same. They understand the immense backlash a move like this will cause, so they plan on introducing change one teaspoon at a time, until they get what they want…a total black/white jersey with Brooklyn emblazoned across a silhouette of the Brooklyn bridge. Give it 5 years fans, we are losing our beloved neighborhood team by the minute. This team will be unrecognizable. Oh yeah, one more thing, The new arena will look like exactly what it is….a converted basketball arena with the scoreboard hanging over one of blue lines instead of center ice!

  18. Rhode Islander says:

    Thanks for the update. I’d like to see them make a concerted effort to keep Boyes. I think when you find good chemistry, like Tavares and Boyes had this season, it’s hard to replace. Plus, he has playoff experience.

  19. Pingback: Isles Nation | New York Islander News

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