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Islanders GM: Greiss 'proved to be a No. 1 goalie'

Goaltending situation among offseason decisions facing Snow

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / Staff Writer

New York Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss could be in line for more playing time next season after his play during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Greiss, starting in place of the injured Jaroslav Halak, backstopped the Islanders to their first Stanley Cup Playoff series win in 23 years when they defeated the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference First Round. The Islanders lost against the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games in the second round, but Greiss had a .923 save percentage in 11 playoff games. 

Video: Thomas Greiss reflects on his season on clean out day

Halak last played March 8 because of a groin injury. Jean-Francois Berube was Greiss' backup during the playoffs.

"We look to improve our club, and I thought we did when we picked Berube off waivers," Islanders general manager Garth Snow said Thursday. "As it turns out, Jaro missed significant time during the season and it became a position of strength for us to have Thomas Greiss, the way he performed during the season and the playoffs, and to have Berube come in and really solidify that position was a positive for our club. Moving forward, we will have to make decisions."

Greiss, 30, was signed before the season as Halak's backup. But Greiss started an NHL career-high 41 games, going 23-11-4 with a 2.36 goals-against average and .925 save percentage.

"[Greiss] proved to be a No. 1 goalie in the League this season," Snow said. "Thomas came in and displayed a great work ethic whether he was playing or whether he was backing up on a certain night. I think Thomas earned the respect from our players, from our coaches because of his personality, his demeanor, his work ethic. And when he got the opportunity to play, he seized it and he played great for us."

Halak, 30, went 18-13-4 with a 2.30 GAA and .919 save percentage in 36 games. He said Tuesday that it was not ideal playing in a three-goalie system.

Halak has two years remaining on his contract, Greiss has one and Berube will be a restricted free agent July 1.

Video: Halak reflects on his season on clean out day

In addition to the goalie situation, forwards Matt Martin, Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen can be unrestricted free agents July 1.

"We would love to bring them all back, but we will have to see how it all unfolds," Snow said. "These are all players that have been drafted by the Islanders, they developed here. They developed into key parts of our team, so we would like to bring them all back. But unfortunately with the salary cap and where we stand in regards to that cap, we'll have to see how it shakes out.

"… We look to take the next step and get to the next level. For us, I know we've made the playoffs three out of the last four seasons, obviously coming off another 100-point season, but for us it's not good enough. We are looking to get better like every other team in the League."

Snow also said he was happy defenseman Travis Hamonic had rescinded his trade request. Hamonic had said Tuesday he had asked for a trade during training camp to be closer to his family in Manitoba because of a health issue of a relative, but the situation had stabilized and he was looking forward to remaining with the Islanders.

"Travis is a player we drafted in 2008," Snow said. "He's obviously someone that is high character. When you put aside his great hockey skills and his presence and vision, we're happy that he has been a core player and he will continue to be a core player for us in the future."

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