The New York Islanders have inked training camp invite and veteran defenseman Luca Sbisa to a one-year deal.
The 2018-19 season is just 10 days away and after another round of cuts Monday morning, the New York Islanders were able to narrow their training camp roster down to 27 players (it needs to be at 23 by the start of the regular-season, not including injured reserve where Andrew Ladd might end up).
Among those 27 were three players at camp on a PTO (professional tryout contract). As of Tuesday, one isn’t a PTO anymore as defenseman Luca Sbisa has signed a one-year deal with the team. The other two PTOs are veterans Stephen Gionta and Dennis Seidenberg.
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) September 24, 2018
According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, Sbisa will make $1.5 million on his new one-year deal.
Last season was an injury-plagued season for Sbisa, but he managed two goals and 14 points in 30 games, playing for the expansion Vegas Golden Knights with an additional four points in 12 playoff games.
Prior to being claimed by Vegas in the Expansion Draft, Sbisa spent three seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, parts of five seasons with the Anaheim Ducks, and one season with the team that drafted him 19th overall in 2008, the Philadelphia Flyers.
In 495 regular-season games, Sbisa has scored 18 goals and 102 points.
From the sounds of it, Sbisa had other PTO offers but chose the Islanders because he thought they offered the ‘best chance’ at cracking the lineup, telling Andrew Gross of Newsday
“We picked this team because they’ve been straightforward with us from the start. They were really interested and I like the fact that it’s a new coaching staff. It’s going to be the best chance to crack the lineup. It’s a really good group of defensemen, a lot of young guys are battling for the same thing.”
The move is a bit surprising and that’s not a knock on Sbisa. Simply put, there were better players at camp including Sebastian Aho and Noah Dobson, drafted 12th overall by the team at this summer’s draft.
The Sbisa signing also limits the chance that Devon Toews makes the team. The 24-year-old survived the first two rounds of cuts thanks to a very impressive training camp and even though he signed a one-way deal this summer, he is still waiver-exempt. That means that the Islanders could send him down to their AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, without the risk of any other team claiming him.
In theory, the Isles could carry eight defensemen which they did last season but if Toews isn’t playing in the lineup, there’s no point of keeping him up with the big club when he could be playing meaningful minutes and in all situations with the Sound Tigers.