The Islanders quest for their fifth Stanley Cup ended on a whimper in Tampa Sunday. Now begins perhaps their most crucial offseason in a long time.
What’s For Certain
The Islanders will have new majority owners beginning July 1st as Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin take over for Charles Wang. The duo has been with the organization as minority owners since 2014. In all reality it became Ledecky and Malkin’s team once the clock hit zero in Game 5. They will have say in the team’s draft and personnel decisions before the calendar hits July. Boy do they have personnel decisions to make, notably with four players who have been with the Islanders their entire career.
The 28-year-old is coming off a five-year contract worth $14 million dollars. Okposo has been with the team since the rock bottom days. The 2006 seventh overall pick has played 529 regular-season games with the Islanders, scoring 139 goals and 369 points. Okposo finished with 22 goals this season, his third career 20-plus goal season. He has bounced back and forth between John Tavares’ line and the second line. He failed to give Tavares the support he needed as he scored just two goals in 11 playoff games. He is likely looking for a seven-year deal between six and seven million per. The Islanders likely will not commit to the term. They will let Okposo test the market, as the team did not talk with Okposo’s agent about a new deal during the season.
The last remaining piece of the Mike Milbury era, the 2002 third-round-pick is coming off a four-year contract worth $11 million dollars. The 32-year-old is one of the most underrated two-way forwards in the league. Nielsen finished with 20 goals for the second time in his ten-year career. He scored three goals in the first round against the Florida Panthers but did not register a goal in five games against the Lightning. While the league may not completely know the type of player Nielsen is, the Islanders certainly do. I would expect something to be done before he hits the open market.
I definitely think this team can do some damage in the future. I’ve been proud representing this organization. We’ll see what happens, but I’ve always been proud to wear this jersey.”
The reigning NHL hits leader is coming off a four-year contract worth four million dollars. The 2008 fifth-round pick had a career best 10 goals and 19 points. The points are not what matter to the team, it’s the high energy that Martin, along with fellow linemates Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck play with. It’s been the only consistent line New York has had for the past two seasons and provides head coach Jack Capuano with such an advantage most teams do not have.
Martin is this generation’s “Mr Islander”. He is involved with numerous charities and is clearly visible on Long Island. He needs as the Islanders as much as the Islanders need him. Teams will certainly look at Martin and might even outbid New York but if you take Martin away from Cizikas and Clutterbuck, his game might not translate as well. Martin will certainly double his yearly contract.
“It’s a huge honor to wear this jersey. It’s been seven years, and I’ve loved every second of it. So we’ll see how it all plays out. That’s for my agent and Garth and management to figure out.”
The 2008 second-round-pick requested a trade prior to the start of the season due to family reasons. General manager Garth Snow could not find a fair deal during the season so Hamonic had to finish the season with the Islanders. Hamonic still has four years left on his seven-year contract that has an average annual value of $3.857 million dollars. The 25-year-old wants to play in Western Canada so that limits Snow as to where he could send the defenseman.
“I love being an Islander, more than anything. It’s one of the best things I do in my life,”
Noel Fogelman is a 5-time Emmy Winner and started his career working on the Buffalo Sabres Pre and postgame shows for the Empire Sports Network. He then went to Bristol, CT to work at ESPN on NHL2Night and its coverage of the Stanley Cup. Follow me on Twiter @thefirstnoel19