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by Chris Botta / New York Islanders
Negotiations with Smyth continue; Snow preparing offers for both top-tier and depth free agents

By 7:00 this morning, Islanders general manager Garth Snow and pro scouting director Ken Morrow were holed up in Snow’s office at the Coliseum, completely prepared for the opening of the free agency market at noon. Also inside the Coliseum is head coach Ted Nolan, while all of Snow’s pro scouts are just a phone call away.

“We’re ready,” said Snow. “We’re ready for every scenario, anything that comes up. We have our depth chart, our list of priorities. No matter what transpires in the first 24 hours or even in the course of the next few weeks, we’re very confident we’ll put the pieces together for a team our fans are going to love.”

The Islanders’ wish list is deep: at least two top-six forwards, a top-four defenseman and depth for both the Islanders and the team’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. “It’s a big list, no doubt,” said Morrow. “But that will be the case with more than half the teams in the NHL every summer. With the new CBA and earlier free agency, there’s always going to be a lot of roster turnover. The key is to make smart decisions and be patient when it’s necessary. I’m excited about it.”

At 10:45 am, Snow provided a few updates to share with Islanders fans via the Islanders Insider and

On Ryan Smyth: “The negotiations have been respectful throughout. We had an agreement with Ryan and his representative Don Meehan that negotiations would remain private. The professionalism shown by both sides has been outstanding. What I can tell our fans this morning is we have put our best foot forward with Ryan. We’ve given him a very fair offer to consider and Ryan certainly understands the kind of team we’re building and how important he is to us. Right now it looks like he’s going to see which other teams are interested when the market opens at noon. As one of the most respected veterans in our game, Ryan has earned that right. We continue to hope Ryan remains an Islander. But as we do that, it’s incumbent on us to also pursue other top players that fill our needs.”

On Jason Blake: “Everyone knows what our organization and our fans think of Jason. We are so proud of the player he has become. The Islanders offered Jason a very good long-term deal a few weeks ago. His representative has let it be known Jason is going to enter the market in search of a better deal. Although we need to look for other players, Jason understands our door is open.”

On Tom Poti: “Tom wished to stay an Islander and we very much wanted to keep him, but a lot changed since the season ended. There have been some recent contracts for top-four defensemen that some might say dramatically altered the market. You can’t blame Tom and his agent for wanting to see what else is out there for him. Again, as in the case with Jason, while the door is open we also have to look for alternatives. Finding a veteran to lead the way on the blue line is very important to us.”

Throughout today, the rest of July and beyond,, Islanders TV and the Islanders Insider are the places to be to obtain the official Islanders updates FIRST.
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