The New York Islanders have continued to sign all their free agents, and none of them are named Mat Barzal or Ryan Pulock. Most recently, the Islanders have been resigning all their guys in the minors. Seth Hegelson, Jeff Kubiak, Erik Brown, and Nick Pastujov have all signed minor deals. I’m actually a fan of building up the Soundtigers. I mean, Brent Thompson can’t ruin every player if he can’t keep track of all of them. In all seriousness, though, these are moves that are important to roster building. And some of these guys do have potential.
Seth Helgeson will never make the NHL. That is not a knock at his playing ability, the real reason why is because he’s 30 years old. But that doesn’t mean he can’t make a big impact in Bridgeport. Helgeson was one of the assistant captains last year for Bridgeport, a role he’s served well for 3 years. Helgeson recorded 10 points and a team-high 95 penalty minutes. You could call him a goon, but that’s a bit of a disservice. Helgeson will help the younger defenseman develop, and that’s really all he’s there for.
Jeff Kubiak does have a shot at cracking an NHL roster with a good AHL season, it just won’t be for the Islanders. Kubiak is 26 years old and is not what the Islanders need. I look at Kubiak as an off-brand version of Leo Komarov. And the Isles need goal scorers, not more bottom 6 forwards who can only grind. Kubiak could make an NHL roster, but not on the Island.
I actually do have a lot of hope for Erik Brown. If given the chance, Brown could light the lamps every other night in the AHL. I was a big fan of him when he was playing for RIT, and it’s because of his goal-scoring abilities. Every time he had the puck in the offensive zone, I truly believe he was going to score. Brent Thompson better develop Brown correctly, a possible diamond in the rough.
A 7th round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Pastujov has found his way to Bridgeport. Even if Pastujov plays well enough to be traded for some return value, the organization would’ve hit on this late pick. Pastujov has a lot of unrealized potentials, and he needs to start grinding right now. No one wants to be buried in an AHL roster, but this may end up being the case. Coming into his final year at Michigan, he guaranteed a breakout year. And then continued to regress in his development. I don’t know what Pastujov has to fix, but he has to fix his game now.