Top 5: Players You Forgot Were New York Islanders

Once an unbeatable dynasty to whatever they are today, the Islanders certainly have a unique history. Spending every year since 1983 trying to regain their former glory in their dump of an arena, the unfortunate souls that have suited up in the array of ugly jerseys is over 500 players long. They would probably rather forget their time in Long Island, but I’m bringing five back to light.

Number 5- Todd McLellan

Like most NHL coaches, Todd McLellan had a short NHL career before ending up behind the bench. He was drafted 104th overall by the Islanders in 1986, but played most of his professional career with their AHL affiliate, the Springfield Indians. McLellan managed to play in five NHL games for the Islanders before a lingering shoulder injury forced him to hang up the skates as a player. He was hired as a head coach by the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL a few years later after refining his skills in the Netherlands before making it all the way to the NHL as an assistant to Mike Babcock in Detroit during the 2000-01 season.

Number 4- Jay Pandolfo

The long-time New Jersey Devil was in the middle of a three-year $7.5 million deal when he was bought out by the Devils in the summer of 2010 due to his declining play. He accepted a professional tryout with the Islanders during training camp for the 2011-12 trying to make a comeback in the NHL. He earned a one-year contract with the Isles on November 17, 2011. Pandolfo scored a single goal during the season, which just so happened to be his 100th NHL goal. He was not re-signed after the season and instead signed another PTO with the Bruins, which would ultimately be his last NHL season.

Number 3- Eric Brewer

Best known for his stints with the Blues and Lightning, defeseman Eric Brewer started his 16-year NHL career with the with the New York Islanders when he was drafted fifth overall in 1997. Believed to be a future Norris-caliber defeseman, he was signed to a three-year $3.7 million entry-level contract. He played 63 games during his rookie season, recording five goals and 11 points. His second season saw the shine wear off, as he was accused of being lazy and demoted to the AHL on two separate occasions, where he sprained his knee during the second stint and missed much of the rest of the season. He did join AHL Lowell for their playoff run, being swept in the second round. At the 2000 entry draft Brewer was traded to the Edmonton Oilers as part of a package for Roman Hamrlik.

Number 2- Ron Hextall

Originally being dealt away from the Philadelphia Flyers as part of the Eric Lindros deal, Ron Hextall was once again moved from Quebec after one season because the Nordiques didn’t protect him for the 1993 expansion draft. Upon Hextall’s arrival in New York his play was inconsistent and was ultimately replaced by rookie Jamie McLennan as the starter. Given another shot at the number one role in February, Hextall knocked it out of the park, recording a career-high of five shutouts. He helped the Isles make the playoffs, but his play once again fell off a cliff as he allowed 16 goals in three playoff games. Hextall was dealt back to the Flyers in the summer of 1994, as the organization put their full faith in McLennan.

Number 1- Martin Biron

After guiding the Flyers to the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2007-08 season, his services were no longer needed in Philly when they signed free agents Ray Emery and Brian Boucher to contracts in the summer of 2009. With little goaltending availability throughout the NHL, Biron signed a one-year deal with the Islanders, joining an underwhelming tandem of Dwayne Roloson and Rick DiPietro, the later of which missed all but eight games with a knee injury. Biron took the backup role to Roloson, suiting up for 29 games, though only producing nine wins with a .896 save percentage and 3.27 goals against average. He was not re-signed in the offseason and instead found himself in the cross-city rivals the New York Rangers.

Honorable mentions

Ruslan Fedotenko

The king of the one-year deal, Ruslan Fedotenko played for five teams in his 12-year NHL career, seven of those years on a one-year contract. After a successful four years with the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he won a Stanley Cup in 2004, he hit free agency in the summer of 2007. He joined a lackluster Islanders 2007-08 squad but still managed to score 33 points. The Isles missed the playoffs by 15 points and Fedotenko opted to not re-sign with the club, instead signing with the Pittsburgh Penguins in free agency.

Thomas Vanek

Known for his long tenure with the Buffalo Sabres, and later a journeyman forward, the New York Islanders were the threshold between the two. Early in the 2013-14 season, Vanek was traded to the New York Islanders in exchange for Matt Moulson and a pair of draft picks. He immediately joined John Tavares on the Isles’ top line and put up 44 points in 47 games. It was announced in February that Vanek declined a contract extension with the Islanders due to their move to Barclay’s Center. In the summer, Vanek hit free agency for the first time in his career and signed a deal with the Montreal Canadiens.

by: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)

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