Isles re-sign de Haan to three-year deal, Cizikas for two years

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The New York Islanders took care of some restricted free agent business on Tuesday.

The team announced they’ve re-signed defenseman Calvin de Haan to a three-year deal and center Casey Cizikas to a two-year contract.

Arthur Staple of Newsday reports de Haan’s deal is worth $5.9 million and Cizikas’ deal is for $2 million.

Last season, de Haan got a chance to show why the Islanders took him 12th overall in the 2009 NHL Draft with three goals and 16 points in 51 games with the big club. In that time on Long Island he averaged just over 21 minutes of ice time per game.

Getting big minutes and providing solid production (as well as possession numbers) means he should factor into the Isles’ top-six on the blue line next season. Getting him for under $2 million per season makes this an outstanding deal for GM Garth Snow.

Cizikas has been a solid third and fourth line player for the past two seasons and earned a full season on Long Island this past year. In 80 games he had six goals and 16 points and played an average of 13:22 per game. Now that the Isles have Mikhail Grabovski joining John Tavares and Frans Nielsen up the middle, Cizikas’ role on the fourth line would seem to be set.

Kings, four other teams have nine picks in 2014 Draft

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L.A. Kings GM Dean Lombardi is still riding the high of winning the Stanley Cup for the second time in three seasons, but he’s going to have a busy time at the NHL Draft next week.

The Kings will have nine picks at the 2014 Draft. Joining L.A. with a busy day will be the St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars, New York Islanders, and Washington Capitals.

For GMs Doug Armstrong and Garth Snow, they’re a bit more used to this dance while Jim Nill and Brian MacLellan haven’t been running the show at the draft on their own very long. For MacLellan it’ll be his first and Nill his second.

The success the Kings have had in recent drafts says Lombardi and their array of scouts have done a solid job of finding those gems in the middle to late part of the first and second-rounds. Part of L.A.’s “That 70s Line” is a good example of that as Tanner Pearson was the 30th overall selection at the 2012 Draft and Tyler Toffoli went 47th overall in 2010.

Those five teams won’t be the only busy ones, however, as six other teams have eight selections. The Buffalo Sabres will have four picks in the Top 50 and five of the first 61 picks including three second-round selections. Sabres GM Tim Murray has made it clear he’s hoping to trade up to get another first-round pick to go along with the second overall selection.

With the number of questions surrounding the depth of talent in this year’s draft, these teams may not just be busy making selections but dealing them as well.

Snow says Capuano will be back as Isles coach

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The New York Islanders will have one possible story line out of the way this summer.

Isles GM Garth Snow said coach Jack Capuano will return for his fifth season behind the bench. As Arthur Staple of Newsday shares, Islanders players support the return of Capuano and his assistants.

You saw Cappy’s system work extremely well at the end of the year,” Kyle Okposo said. “We were outworking and outplaying teams that were ahead of us in the standings. We played within the framework of the team really well. For whatever reason, we got away from that early in the year and it cost us.”

Injuries were a major buzzkill for the Islanders this season. Captain John Tavares and fellow star forwards Okposo and Michael Grabner suffered season-ending ailments as did defensemen Lubomir Visnovsky, Brian Strait, and Calvin de Haan.

Capuano should get a full regalia or players back next season, setting the bar for him to try and re-capture the magic they had last season when they made the playoffs. As long as Snow is bringing back his coach, now maybe he can give him some help by finding a way to improve the goaltending position.

Backhand shelved: Isles’ Nielsen out a month with broken hand

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The Olympic break might be coming at the best time for the New York Islanders and Frans Nielsen.

Isles GM Garth Snow says Nielsen will miss a month of action after suffering a broken hand on Saturday night, as Arthur Staple of Newsday shares.

Nielsen was injured when he was slashed by Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson. Johnson was suspended for two games for his stick work.

Losing Nielsen puts the Islanders at major two-way disadvantage. He’s third on the team in points and is one of (if not their best) defensive forward. He’s also arguably their best performer in the shootout.

Times have been rough enough for the Isles as they’re winless in seven of their past eight games. Going without Nielsen for at least a couple weeks once Olympic break is over won’t make matters any easier.

The Islanders’ future is happening right now

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After years of finishing poorly, the New York Islanders piled up an impressive array of draft picks and more than a few of those guys are there already to put the organization on their back.

Any discussion like this begins with John Tavares. If you missed out on what he did for the Isles last season you missed an incredible performance by a 22-year-old. His 28 goals and 19 assists in 48 games led the team in scoring and earned him a spot as a Hart Trophy finalist.

By leading the Isles to their first playoff berth since ’06-’07, Tavares at the very least became a folk hero on Long Island. What he may have actually done though is sealed the deal to be the next team captain. By teaming up with Matt Moulson to provide a killer one-two punch, the Isles have at least one line that can score on anyone in the league.

The fun part for Isles fans and executives alike? He’s not even close to the only young guy emerging.

Among the forwards, there’s a host of young guys thriving on the Island. Josh Bailey (23), Brock Nelson (21), Kyle Okposo (24), Michael Grabner (25), Casey Cizikas (21), Matt Martin (23), and Anders Lee (22) all saw time last season with the Isles. 2011 first-round pick Ryan Strome (20) will join that group this year.

And you wonder why GM Garth Snow mostly stayed away from the free agent market this summer.

Things aren’t any different on defense where Travis Hamonic has emerged as one of the best the Isles have there. At 22 years old he’s playing top minutes in all situations and he’s got other young guys right there with him.

Thomas Hickey (23) and Brian Strait (25) both emerged as key players last season and Matt Donovan (23), Calvin de Haan (22), and Griffin Reinhart (19) will look to crack the NHL roster in training camp.

Of those last three, Reinhart has the highest potential but may stay in juniors. 2013 first-round pick Ryan Pulock could eventually figure into the mix as well.

Long story short, you might look at the Isles roster before the season starts and ask, “Just who are these guys?” Chances are you’ll get to learn them quickly because they’re going to be part of the Isles’ continued rise out of the basement.