Speed up front
On the first day of free agency, the Islanders added a pair of solid skaters who look to make a difference
|Pierre-Marc Bouchard (Photo: Getty Images)|
The Islanders wasted no time bolstering their roster for the 2013-14 season, adding a pair of new forwards within the first few minutes of the NHL free agent signing period Friday. The club inked Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Peter Regin, each to one-year deals.
“Pierre-Marc is a very dynamic offensive talent, with great hands and great vision,” Islanders Assistant Coach and Sr. Advisor to the General Manager Doug Weight said. “He certainly is a water bug – he’s quick, great in the corners, and shows a lot of offensive ability. He’s played under a couple of different coaching regimes in Minnesota, and he’s done a great job at the 200-foot game. We expect great things from him.”
Bouchard, who played all 10 of his NHL seasons with the Minnesota Wild, eclipsing the 50-assist plateau in 2007-08, decided on Long Island based on the team’s ascension up the Eastern Conference standings last season.
“I picked the Islanders because they’re headed in the right direction,” Bouchard said. “They made the playoffs last year. They have a great bunch of young guys that are really talented. I think my type of game fits pretty well with the way they play.”
Minnesota selected Bouchard eighth overall in 2002. He ranks second in Wild history with 565 games, fourth with 106 goals and second with 241 assists, but the 29-year-old says he is ready for a new challenge.
“We have a lot of friends in Minnesota,” Bouchard said. “I had some great years with all the people and the fans there. At the same time, I’m really looking forward to a fresh start, and I’m really happy it’s with the Islanders.”
Regin comes to the Islanders from similar circumstances. The 27-year-old is a veteran of five NHL seasons, all with Ottawa.
“Peter is fast, and we think his best hockey is in front of him,” Weight said. “His ceiling is very high. We wanted to get faster, and we certainly did with that move.”
|Peter Regin (Photo: Getty Images)|
In addition to the Islanders recent success, Regin’s decision to come to New York was influenced by another player from his hometown of Herning, Denmark.
“I’m going to play with one of my best buddies, Frans Nielsen,” Regin said. “We grew up together and played together, both in Herning and in Sweden. I’m excited to play with him again. He said a lot of good things about New York, and that’s a big reason why the Islanders were at the top of my list.”
Nielsen is 29, two years older than Regin. The new Islander’s first professional season came in 2005-06 with Timra IK in Sweden. That campaign was Nielsen’s last in Europe before heading full-time to North America.
“We work out together, so I’ve actually been doing the Islanders workout program this summer,” Regin said. “Even before all this came up, we talked a lot, and obviously talked about how fun it would be if we got a chance to play together one day in the NHL. I think it’s exciting for both of us to get a chance to do that now.”
Bouchard, a key contributor to the Wild’s power play during his tenure there, wants to play a big role in the Islanders future.
“I definitely want to go there and try to be a factor, and help this team win some hockey games,” Bouchard said. “Obviously, I’m an offensive-minded guy, and I’ve been a playmaker, so I want to be able to produce.”
Regin, who was limited to 92 games over the last three seasons due to injuries, played a key role at even strength, the power play and penalty kill for the Senators. His best season in Ottawa was 2009-10, when he set career highs in goals (13), assists (16), points (29) and plus/minus (plus-10). Regin says heading into the 2013-14 season, his goals are simple.
“I want to prove myself over again,” Regin said. “I’ve had some tough luck for a couple of years where things haven’t gone my way due to injuries. I really want to get my career back on track and prove to everyone that I’m still a good player. And I obviously want to prove to the Islanders that they made the right decision to sign me.”