The New York Islanders have some work to do this off-season. Not only do they need to add pieces to their current group of players, but they also need to retain some key faces.
The Isles locked up Casey Cizikas last week. Now, they’ll attempt to close the gap between themselves and potential free agents Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo and Matt Martin. But according to Newsday’s Arthur Staple, there’s “nothing new” to report on that front.
Will they be able to work out a deal with any of the three before July 1st? Each player will be looking for a substantial raise. Okposo came with a cap hit of $2.8 million on his last contract, while Nielsen’s number was just below that at $2.75 million and Martin’s was $1 million.
Each of these players has played a key role for the Islanders over the last few season, but you’d have to think that Okposo would be the top priority. He’s scored 20 goals or more three times and he’s still just 28-years-old. Okposo finished the season with 22 goals and 64 points in 79 games. Those numbers combined with his age will allow him to command top dollar if he hits the open market.
Nielsen, 32, is a little older than Okposo, but he’s been an effective two-way player for New York. He’s coming off a fine season of his own, as he scored 20 goals and 52 points in 81 games. The Islanders trust Nielsen in every situation and it showed in the postseason, where he averaged over 21 minutes of ice time per game.
Martin is a role player and a fan-favorite in Brooklyn. Many people believe the Islanders have the best fourth line in Hockey with Martin, Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas. But after Cizikas got paid, will they be able to keep the trio together next season? That remains to be seem. The 27-year-old had 10 goals, 19 points and 119 penalty minutes in 80 games last season.