Gone are the last-minute imports of yore, Mike Mottau (always problematic when playing on his off-side) and Mark Eaton (problematic, period.) Lubomir Visnovsky was on the old side but provided a skill set they needed. (Or will provide ... in theory.) The Infamous Seven blueliners selected at the draft were followed by the last week's gluttonous plundering of the waiver wire for every Jon, Brian and Hickey they could find.
Today's edition is Brian Strait, with all due sympathy to Howie and Butch for having to finesse his pronunciation vs. Mark Streit. Strait, 25 and a Boston University product, has more NHL experience than Jon Finley (five games) and Thomas Hickey (none). He was the Penguins playoff replacement for Paul Martin after Martin's postseason injury.
Another left shot, Strait is a little bigger (6'1", 201) than Hickey and, unlike Hickey, was never billed as an offensive defenseman. Both have the opportunity to provide some solid depth for the Islanders, so it was worth the nominal waiver wire prices to claim them.
With opening night 23-man rosters due today at 5 p.m. EST, things are shaping up in interesting ways. News will break this afternoon, so the following is not official. But at present you could place Josh Bailey (knee) and Jesse Joensuu (groin) on IR, Lubomir Visnovsky on suspension, and create the following moveable parts until someone is ready to return and force a roster move:
21 non-goalie bodies
Moulson - Tavares - Okposo
MacDonald - Hamonic
Aside from the new waiver imports not having much time to get their bearings, there is some promise there in terms of upgrading the blueline over last season -- the question is by how much.
At front, big questions remain concerning whether Brad Boyes cashes in this new opportunity, how much Colin McDonald can provide on wing, and whether Marty Reasoner rebounds. But with Bailey and Joensuu due back early in the season -- to say nothing of the forward prospects in Bridgeport -- replacements should not require turning to the waiver wire.
The experiments begin Saturday night.