The New York Islanders offseason is just around the corner, and while the John Tavares contract looms, the Isles got to work early with two defensive signings.
Clearly, things are all about the defense for the New York Islanders.
Both moves are indicators that the Islanders are still unsure as to who is going to make the cut for their minor league defense. Question marks and players on the cusp of breaking out into full NHL careers like Sebastian Aho, Scott Mayfield and Devon Toews litter the roster.
Adding these two names brings depth in the event of injuries and could add point-producing defensemen to the blueline. Quenneville’s offense is one of the strongest areas of his game.
In his draft year of 2015-16, the 5-foot-8, 187-pound defenseman collected 55 points in 64 games with Medicine Hat in the Western Hockey League. This past season, Quenneville produced 80 points in 70 games and collected eight points in six playoff games against the Brandon Wheat Kings.
Across the sea is Rathgeb. For the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, he was projected to be a late-round pick. After not being selected, he returned to Europe and was selected in the fifth round of the KHL draft.
Rathgeb never overperformed in North America. His Ontario Hockey League point total came to just 37 points in 91 games with the Plymouth Whalers. However, he has gotten better with age. In the 2016-17 season, he had the most points in the Champions Hockey League, a European hockey tournament launched by 26 founding clubs, six leagues and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), with 12 points in 12 games. This past season in the National League with Fribourg-Gotteron, he was fifth on the team in points among all skaters with 28 points in 38 games.
Rathgeb, at this time, is another question mark for the Islanders organization. Coming in at 22, he isn’t really a rookie. He’s been around the block once or twice in the National League and his experience there should help him adjust to Bridgeport in the AHL.
These moves are low risk, high reward. Quenneville, while small in size, is a big point producer. Rathgeb, while unproven, is getting his second chance at the NHL. The d-man could join the AHL in time for the push to the playoffs. The Sound Tigers are currently in fifth in the Atlantic division with six games remaining at press time.