NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There could be several changes in store for the Islanders this offseason, but general manager Garth Snow said Thursday he wants to try to find a way to retain three of the team’s longest-tenured players.
Forwards Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin are all set to become unrestricted free agents. Earlier this week, all three said they have not held substantive contract talks with the team.
But speaking to reporters on a conference call Thursday, Snow said he would ideally like to see all three back.
“That’s the challenge for us,” he 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.
“Whether a winger for John (Tavares), the addition of a goalie, upgrading our defense, we leave no stone unturned to improve our club,” Snow added. “We’re always on the lookout for ways to improve our club.”
What will happen at goaltender is a big question, too, after Thomas Greiss impressed while filling in for the injured Jaroslav Halak. Snow gave no indication about who might be the Isles’ top goalie come October, but he did say that Greiss “proved to be a No. 1 goalie in this league.”
“Thomas came in and displayed a great work ethic, whether he was playing or backing up on a certain night,” Snow said. “I think Thomas earned the respect from our players and coaches because of his personality, his demeanor and his work ethic. When he got the opportunity to play, he seized it, and he played great for us.”
Snow received some welcome news this week when defenseman Travis Hamonic rescinded his trade request, which he made in hopes of moving closer to his family in Winnipeg. Hamonic said a close family member was dealing with serious health issues but that the situation has since stabilized.
“It was more of a relief that those issues lessened, for lack of a better word,” Snow said. “Travis is very close to me on a personal level, and I was just happy for him on a personal level that things had taken a step in a positive direction.”
The Islanders, who won their first playoff series since 1993 this season, just completed their first year at the Barclays Center. While much has been made about obstructed-view seats in the arena, Snow gave the experience a thumbs-up overall.
“I think it was a great atmosphere, as anyone can attest to going into that building in a playoff environment,” he said. “It’s a first-class facility. I know there are quirks here and there. But … from the locker room, the lounge, the coaches with the video setup and overall comfort from the players to the coaches, it was first class all the way.
“I think you saw general excitement from our players and coaches about playing at Barclays Center.”