After a brutal hit by Tom Wilson ended his season, Lubomir Visnovsky is the focus of a rumor claiming he’ll sign a contract with Klagenfurt Athletic Sports Club, or EC KAC of the EBEL.
Austrian newspaper Klein Zeitung first reported the rumor, including some apparent quotes from Michael Grabner that seem to imply that Grabner suggested the move.
“He is a super guy who can extremely well playing ice hockey. Lubomir has a totally nice way his word counts in the cabin something, “said Grabner. It was he who suggested to him the Austrian league. “In the EBEL is not nearly to so form-fitting as in the NHL, so it is for him the best league,”
Though the translation is rough, the paper is clearly claiming that the Austrian saw his country’s league as the perfect fit for an aging and oft-injured Visnovsky. And while he’s probably not wrong, it’s surprising to hear when less than a month ago Visnovsky seemed intent on returning to the Islanders if he was healthy.
Despite another solid year with the Islanders, the thirty-eight-year-old defenseman is certainly in the twilight of his pro hockey career. Four Islanders defenseman contributed more points during the regular season than Visnovsky, albeit in more games, but still proving that his role as an offensive defenseman is diminishing.
If nothing else, Visnovsky was brought in to be a good locker room presence and to provide the veteran leadership that this Islanders team was sorely lacking in 2012. Funny to look back at the first few months of the relationship, which began with Visnovsky claiming the trade had to be nullified and ended after the KHL told him they wouldn’t take him while he was on an NHL contract. Since then, he’s been an integral piece in turning this Islanders team into an actual threat.
Visnovsky responded to the report in an interview with mSport.sk, saying “I spoke with representatives of Klagenfurt, but I did not sign anything. My priority is to stay still in the NHL, we are negotiating a new contract even with NY Islanders. If there is disagreement, test the free market with the players. I have practically the whole summer to get a new contract.”
As much as Visnovsky might say at this point in the summer that he wants to play with the Islanders, there’s still the very real possibility that he and the team don’t see eye to eye on the finances of a new contract. For what Visnovsky can offer you in 2015-16, he’s not worth nearly the $6mil ($4.75mil on the cap) he received this past season. Maybe the combination of health concerns and age are enough to keep the Islanders and other NHL teams away.
It’d be sad to see Visnovsky go, but from an Islanders perspective it’s important to remember the defensive depth in the prospect pool. Ryan Pulock had a standout season in Bridgeport, and Griffin Reinhart has improved markedly over the last year. If either of these two started the season on the Islanders’ third pairing, the Islanders should be fine.