The New York Islanders had a number of key unrestricted and restricted free agents this off-season. General manager Garth Snow still has to sign RFA Ryan Strome. New York has changed the mix of their roster this summer. The Islanders 2017 free agent situation and beyond brings critical decisions to the organization.
This summer the biggest RFA the Islanders had was Casey Cizikas. New York signed him to a 5-year deal. Next summer the Islanders have three RFAs in Calvin de Haan, Adam Pelech, and J.F. Berube.
SELKE — 1. Patrice Bergeron, Bruins. 2. Andrew Cogliano, Ducks. 3. Carl Hagelin, Penguins. 4. David Backes, Blues. 5. Casey Cizikas, #Isles
— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) June 20, 2016
De Haan the former 1st round pick (12th overall in 2009) has become a solid defensemen. Even better, the Ontario- native has improved every year. However, the emergence of Ryan Pulock will probably push de Haan to the Islanders’ third pairing. Hard to see a scenario where the 25-year-old blue liner is not exposed to next year’s expansion draft. De Haan could be Las Vegas-bound.
Going into the 2016-17 season, both Pelech and Berube appear to have small roles for the Islanders. However, a lot can change quickly. Going into training camp Pelech will be battling Scott Mayfield for the Islanders’ 7th defenseman role. In a handful of games this past season, Pelech showed he is ready for the NHL as a third-pairing blue liner. Injuries will probably make Pelech a contributor next season.
In terms of Berube, he is third on the goalie depth chart for the Islanders NHL roster. New York likes Berube’s ability, confidence, and potential. If Snow moves a goalie this summer, Berube should break 30 starts this coming season.
On July 1st New York saw Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, and Matt Martin leave the Islanders via free agency. As of now Thomas Greiss, Cal Clutterbuck, and P.A. Parenteau will be free agents next July 1st. Parenteau is a 1-year situation to give the Islanders depth at the forward position.
Clutterbuck came over to the Islanders in the 2013 off-season for Nino Niederreiter. The Ontario-native has been a terrific complementary player for New York. He has been an agitator and a pest to the opposition on a nightly basis, as well as a team leader in the locker room.
Clutterbuck is in the final year of a 4-year deal that has an annual cap hit of $2.75 million. Next July 1st Clutterbuck will be a free agent at 29 years of age. He should land a multi-year deal with an annual salary around $4 million. With the number of top forward prospects the Islanders have closing in on their NHL arrival, this should be Clutterbuck’s last year in Brooklyn.
Greiss is New York’s most intriguing and important free agent next summer. Greiss coming into this past season was a career back-up. But this season the German netminder was 23-11-3 with a 2.36 goals against average and a .925 save percentage. Almost every hockey observer listed Greiss as the Islanders’ biggest question mark going into the playoffs. Greiss was probably New York’s best player in the postseason.
Greiss will be 31 come next July 1st. If he duplicates last season’s performance do the Islanders sign him to a long-term deal? Remember New York has a potential franchise goalie in their prospect pipeline in Ilya Sorokin.
Thomas Greiss's playoff performance was admirable, but Jaroslav Halak should be the #Isles' starting goalie on opening night.
— Daniel Friedman (@DanJFriedman) July 10, 2016
Tavares Next Summer
John Tavares enters the 2016-17 season with two years left on his six-year deal. Already the conversation has started from the GM to new ownership about the Islanders captain’s next contract. Last week in a town hall that Islanders owner Jonathan Ledecky participated in, he stated: “John Tavares isn’t going to be a free agent.”
— theScore (@theScore) July 17, 2016
The Islanders cap situation will not be an issue for signing Tavares to a deal that makes him an Islander for life. In addition to Tavares, New York has six players coming off the books following the 2017-18 season. Those players are Josh Bailey, Jason Chimera, Mikhail Grabovski, Jaroslav Halak, Thomas Hickey, and Nikolai Kulemin. That will be $21.45 million coming off the Islanders salary cap.
In the last two years, the Islanders have drafted five forwards in the 1st round (2014 – 2016 drafts). Mathew Barzal, Michael Dal Colle and probably Keifer Bellows all will be regular contributors to New York by that time. They also, will be on their entry level deals.
There will be a lot of interesting moves and decisions for the Islanders over the next 12 months.