MIKE: IT'S ONLY THE BEGINNING
In the wake of the signing of Alexei Zhitnik and the loss of a pair of respected veterans via free agency, Islanders general manager made the following comments in a conference call with beat reporters this evening and in a separate briefing with newyorkislanders.com.
"We want to thank Adrian Aucoin for the three great seasons he gave us and wish him the best in Chicago. We hoped to keep Adrian, but he received a better offer. This is the new NHL. There is going to be a lot of player movement, as was the case with Dave Scatchard, whom we also thank for his years with us. You never like to say goodbye to good players and people like them, but you have to do what's best for your team and forge on with your plan.
"That started tonight with our signing of Alexei Zhitnik. This is an excellent player that we're fortunate to bring on long-term. And it's only the beginning of a lot of work still to be done.
"We remain in position to bring in players that we feel can help us win a Stanley Cup, which is our only objective. We will look at everything -- free agency, trades and promotions from within. Our forwards and our goaltending are strong, for the present and the future. That said, we will continue to take a look at one or two forwards that can make us better. I'm very interested in offensive players, guys who should excel with the new rules changes.
"There's no question we have some work to do on the blueline. We hope to close a deal for a mobile, young defenseman tomorrow, and then there will still be work to be done. I also want to make clear to our fans that despite today's comings and goings, it has always been our plan to provide opportunities for some of our top young defensemen in Bridgeport. In Zhitnik, Janne Niinimaa and others we hope to bring on board, we'll have veteran defensemen who can show the way.
"We're proud of the time Adrian and Dave spent on Long Island. We acquired Adrian for a prospect and a pick and he turned into a top defenseman that every team in the league wanted. My hope is that, in the future, when a player like Adrian prospers here that we can work out a contract and keep him here forever. That's what we want to be all about, if that's possible in this new era. Now it's up to me and the staff to continue to find more players that will help us win and that our fans will be proud to root for. We will."