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Keith Aucoin was one of General Manager Garth Snow's many waiver pickups for the Islanders during the short training camp before the start of the lockout shortened 2013 season. Aucoin, a career minor league player for the most part, was plucked off waivers by Snow to provide some depth to the Islanders' forward core for the season. Aucoin ended up playing a career high 41 games this past season. His previous high was 38 games with the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2007-2008 season.
Snow brought Aucoin in to provide depth, and he did just that, spending most of his time playing on the third and fourth lines for the Islanders last season (he did spend a very brief stint centering the 2nd line for the Isles in February). Aucoin got off to a good start in January, as he chipped in four goals and five points in the Isles first seven games. Once February came however, Aucoin disappeared offensively, only recording one assist in 12 games before he finally became a healthy scratch February 27 against the Boston Bruins. Aucoin would spend seven games in a row as a healthy scratch before finally being re-inserted into the lineup.
Aucoin would never put up numbers offensively the rest of the year as he did in January. Not surprising, being Aucoin spent most of his playing career in the AHL. In March after being re-inserted into the lineup he scored one goal and four points in nine games, and only scored one goal and two points in 13 games in April. Bottom six forwards are not paid to score primarily, but Aucoin did not put up enough offensively to play a role on the top three lines. He probably ended up playing more than the Isles planned mainly because Marty Reasoner never seemed able to find his game again, and they were thin at the center position on the NHL roster to begin with.
While he did not put up a tremendous amount of offense, Aucoin did make up for that by providing some leadership for a young Islander team. Aucoin played hard every shift, unlike some other players who were here recently (Brian Rolston comes to mind), and never gave up on a play. Aucoin was well-respected among the players in the locker-room as one of the veteran players on the team, and provided a good example for some of the younger players on this team about how to play the game and be a pro.
Could Aucoin be back next year? It's possible, but unlikely. Aucoin was more of a place-holder this past season, likely for young center Brock Nelson who seems poised to make this team out of training camp in September. If Aucoin is willing to accept a two-way contract I could see Snow bringing him back. However, I do not see Aucoin willing to accept a two-way deal, which will most likely end his short tenure as an Islander. I would not mind seeing Aucoin back next year, but with Eric Boulton already re-signed as an extra forward/tough guy and a slew of younger players knocking on the door, there simply is no place for Aucoin on the roster.
Aucoin is a class act, and if he does come back, he will be a welcome presence in the locker-room. If he and the Isles end up parting ways like I believe they will, I wish him the best and hope a team signs him and gives him a chance to play in the NHL next year.
What does everyone think, will Aucoin be back next year? Do you want him back?
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