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Adding Biron gives Islanders peace of crease

Thursday, 07.23.2009 / 11:36 AM / 2009 NHL Offseason News

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

"We obviously want Ricky back at 100 percent and this allows us the flexibility to take our time. There is no extra pressure on him to come back earlier than he needs."
-- Garth Snow

For the last month and a half, Martin Biron would reevaluate his plan and wonder about his NHL future. The former Philadelphia Flyers No. 1 goalie didn't want to use the word "stressful" to describe the start of his summer, but he did admit it was "uneasy."

Biron's fears were put to rest Wednesday when he signed a one-year contract worth a reported $1.4 million with the New York Islanders, who now have three so-called No. 1 goalies when you put Biron in the mix with Dwayne Roloson and Rick DiPietro.

"July 1 and weeks after that didn't go as anticipated to say the least, but at the same time, every few days you kind of readjust and you set up the plan to move ahead," Biron told NHL.com. "By talking to the Islanders, it really made a lot of sense. It was definitely something we were excited about and we looked at as a great opportunity."

Adding a third No. 1 goalie may seem like a strange decision by Islanders GM Garth Snow, who signed Roloson on July 1 to a two-year contract and already has DiPietro tied up for the next 12 years, but it actually may not be.

Snow told NHL.com that DiPietro, who played in only five games last season and has not yet skated this summer, is expected to be ready for training camp. But since there are no assurances in that, signing Biron, who spent the past two seasons as the Flyers' No. 1, gives the Islanders the depth they lacked last season when Joey MacDonald and Yann Danis shared the duties, and the club finished 28th in goals-against (3.34 per game).

"We obviously want Ricky back at 100 percent and this allows us the flexibility to take our time," Snow said. "There is no extra pressure on him to come back earlier than he needs."

If DiPietro can be ready to go by Oct. 3 or soon after, Biron becomes a tradable asset that could land the Islanders another pick in the 2010 Entry Draft.

"We have a game plan for Ricky to start skating in August, but I don't know what will happen," Snow said. "He's missed a significant amount of time. This creates several options for us as an organization and this has obviously no bearing on Dwayne Roloson's situation. I just didn't want to be in the same predicament as we were last year."

Snow admitted the Islanders made a mistake rushing DiPietro back for the start of last season.

DiPietro had an operation on his left knee June 3, but made his season debut Oct. 18. He played in three-straight games, all losses, before needing a second surgery Oct. 31. He came back again to play two games, Dec. 26 and Jan. 2, but was shut down after that. Newsday reported DiPietro has since undergone a third procedure on his knee.

"In Rick's case, it's a situation where I learned a lesson from last year and covered our bases with that position," Snow said. "We have three bona fide No. 1 goaltenders now."

Biron, who said he never once considered the idea of playing overseas, is entering this deal with the Islanders fully aware of all the potential scenarios, which he said were laid out to him and his agent by Snow before the paperwork was filed.

"I don't know what it is going to be for the long term, but as a short term thing we were all going to benefit from it," Biron said. "It's not going to be one of those things where I'll be blindsided."

While Biron is thinking first about this season and his role with the Islanders, part of him is looking ahead to July 1, 2010, when he will become an unrestricted free agent again.

He said he spoke to Snow about just that, and the GM was adamant about wanting to help Biron along in that process because it will benefit the Islanders as well.

"We were ready for this July 1 to be the time for me to take that huge leap forward, but it didn't happen," Biron said. "At the same time, you look back at how everything worked out and you totally understand that this summer was a different time. It's not usually the way it all works out. Maybe it's a blip on the radar. I'm going to be 32 in a month and I feel I'm just getting to that part in my career where I have the best four or five years ahead of me."

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com
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