The Islanders said goodbye to three longtime members of the organization on Friday. On Saturday they welcomed back one old friend to the fold.
PA Parenteau, an Islander from 2010-12, returned to the team on a one-year deal worth $1.25 million, a bargain signing for the 33-year-old wing who scored 20 goals for an offense-challenged Maple Leafs team last season.
Parenteau thrived in his first Isles go-round on the right side of the top line with John Tavares. With Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen gone via free agency on Friday, Parenteau may get a crack to resume his role as Tavares’ wing man this coming season.
“I got a chance to play with him my first year when [Jack Capuano] took over and we had a good thing going,” Parenteau told Newsday on Saturday night. “I’m not assuming I will play there again but if I do it will be awesome. He’s one of the best in the league, the best on some nights. It’s a big reason why I decided to come back.”
Following up the signings of left wings Andrew Ladd (seven years, $38.5 million) and Jason Chimera (two years, $4.5 million) on Friday, Islanders general manager Garth Snow has replaced Okposo, Nielsen and Matt Martin with three similar, albeit older, forwards who each reached the 20-goal mark last season.
It would seem that the Islanders are done adding in free agency after the first two days, with 12 forwards under contract for next season plus two restricted free agents, Ryan Strome and Alan Quine, who will be back once they inevitably sign.
The Islanders are already within $6 million of the $73-million salary cap for next season. Snow would dearly love to shed a couple of the onerous contracts he has. Jaroslav Halak ($4.5 million the next two seasons) is one of three goaltenders still around, a situation the Isles need to resolve before next season, and Mikhail Grabovski ($5 million cap hit each of the next two seasons) is very much up in the air due to concussions.
But the roster seems close to set for at least the run-up to training camp in September.
When Parenteau came to the Isles in 2010, he had dropped out of the Blackhawks and Rangers organizations with barely a sniff at the NHL. Capuano took over early that season and put Parenteau with Tavares and Matt Moulson; Parenteau totaled 38 goals and 82 assists in those two seasons before signing a four-year, $16-million deal with the Avalanche.
He had 43 points in 48 games of the lockout-shortened 2012-13 for Colorado before knee and head injuries derailed him the next season and he was traded to the Canadiens, where he clashed with coach Michel Therrien and was bought out of his deal.
He signed with the Leafs for $1.5 million and, despite Toronto finishing last in the league, led the Leafs in goals.
“I had a rough couple years, in Montreal especially, but I bounced back last year,” he said. “I thought I might come back [to the Islanders] at the trade deadline last season but it didn’t happen. I always thought I’d be back to Long Island.”
Of course, the team doesn’t play on Long Island anymore. But Parenteau had a couple rounds of golf with Tavares in Toronto earlier in the summer and heard that the commute to Brooklyn isn’t so bad and heard from Snow about the Northwell Health Ice Center as the team’s new practice home.
That’s not all that changed. When Parenteau left, the Isles were on a five-year skid without a playoff berth.
“I’ll tell you later this year what I think about the travel,” he joked. “But this team is more than a playoff team. They’ve been real legit the last couple years. There was no Johnny Boychuk, no Nick Leddy when I was there; with them and Travis [Hamonic], not many teams have a top-three D like that. It’s a big reason why I decided to sign.”