The summer months are often filled with family reunions, and outings with long-lost friends. Mostly, these are fun and spirited affairs, with a laugh shared by all over a pint or two during an afternoon of weekend sun. But there’s always that one aunt or friend that you really don’t care for too much, and tolerate nonetheless. They come back nearly every July, and then disappear again for their winter hibernation.
Alexei Yashin is your aunt Betty, the one who always insists that you’re not wearing enough sunscreen. On Monday we were introduced to the possibility of a Yashin sighting at an NHL rink this September. Camp Yashin claimed that it had received an offer from an unnamed NHL team. We chuckled, thinking it was a funny joke, and we even wrote it down in our diary.
Now Yashin just won’t go away.
Dmitry Chesnokov from Yahoo’s Puck Daddy spoke with Yashin’s agent Mark Gandler, who confirmed our horrible mid-summer night’s dream. The Islanders are reportedly in talks with the Yashin, and he’s “seriously considering” New York’s offer.
The comparisons between Yashin and Jaromir Jagr have been drawn and will continue to be drawn if Yashin’s comedic comeback moves forward. Jagr of course just completed his journey back from NHL exile, and will suit up for the Flyers this fall after spurning Pittsburgh.
Based on KHL numbers alone over the last few seasons, those comparisons are justified, and they give Yashin hope. Jagr played three seasons in Russia, while Yashin has played four since he last skated on NHL ice in 2007 for the Islanders. Here’s how their numbers compare:
Even though at 39 he’s two years older than Yashin, Jagr wins easily, averaging well over a point per game. Yashin’s totals still aren’t pedestrian by any means and they do indeed provide hope that he can be a bottom six contributor.
There was excitement during Jagr Watch, because although it’s clearly assumed that a player’s numbers in Russian don’t automatically come back over across the pond, we could look at his offensive effectiveness in the KHL, and then see him still thrive against NHL competition during the Olympics and the World Championships. We can also flip through Jagr’s most recent NHL seasons and fuel the optimism meter by noting that over his last two years as a Ranger he had 55 goals (25 in 2007-08, and 30 in 2006-07). Sure, there’s been the expected regression with age, but all of these factors combined hint at a player who at the very least can be productive in a secondary scoring role.
Yashin again falls narrowly short of Jagr’s totals during his last two NHL seasons (46 goals), but it’s his health and especially his petulance that raise further questions after the Islanders completed his banishment to Russia by buying out the last four years of his contract.
We understand the Islanders’ willingness to take a romantic walk down memory lane and sign up for Yashin’s various risks and questionable NHL ability. Hell, they have to, because Garth Snow will sign pretty much anyone right about now to rid himself of the organization’s ongoing cap floor debacle. With their currnet payroll of $39.3 million, the Islanders are still the furthest away from the cap floor and need to spend $9 million. The entire HOTH staff is expecting their contract offers in the mail early next week.
Yashin will be a cheap, low risk gamble if Snow brings him back, and maybe he’ll continue to be Jagr-lite in terms of his offensive production, but that’s probably a dream that involves a lot of pipes. Just don’t expect him to provide a dressing room presence for a team with blossoming young players.
In fact, the opposite is far more likely.
UPDATE: Newsday’s Katie Strang spoke with both Gandler and Snow, and they confirmed that talks are ongoing regarding Yashin.
Also, CapGeek confirmed a widely asked question, and an important one for Snow. If Yashin is signed, his buyout will still count against the cap. Further to that, Gandler and Snow reassured the masses that the Islanders are within their rights to negotiate with Yashin even though he was bought out.
Yep, that’s how desperate the Islanders are in their race to the floor.