Islanders Free Agency

New York Islanders Free Agents: Re-Signing the UFAs

By Matt O'Leary
May 3, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders left wing Matt Martin (17) carries off the boards during the first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning in game three of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
May 3, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders left wing Matt Martin (17) carries off the boards during the first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning in game three of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports /
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The New York Islanders have a few key pieces hitting the market, who should they bring back summer?

Now more than ever, with salary caps playing more of a role, it is difficult to retain players. Some key players to the Islanders that are hitting unrestricted free agency are Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo, Matt Martin and Marek Zidlicky.

Although the Islanders would probably like to bring back all of these guys, or at least three of them, the likelihood of that happening is slim to none.

The veteran defenseman, Marek Zidlicky is unlikely to re-sign with the Islanders. Zidlicky is more likely to retire than be back in an Islanders uniform. He’s not needed, although he played ok filling in for the injured Ryan Pulock  in the Florida Panthers series, he looked overwhelmed in the series against the Lightning.

With it now clear that Travis Hamonic will be an Islander for the foreseeable future, the Islanders will be more likely to go with youth than the thirty nine year old. I expect Ryan Pulock to play more of a role on the team. Then Scott Mayfield and Adam Pelech will be available if needed, to fill the role Zidlicky would have played.

As for Matt Martin I think he re-joins the team. The Islanders realize the importance of their fourth line. In the regular season they were the Islanders most consistent line and they set the tone in games.

Matt Martin’s cap hit was only $1 million this past year but he is certainly due a raise. He is regarded as one of the best fourth liners in the NHL, and his 19 points were a career high for him.

I think the Islanders are willing to give him a raise to keep him with the team.

Another Islander looking for a raise is Kyle Okposo. His salary this past year was $4.5 million. He is looking for more in the $7 million a year range and I don’t think the Islanders are going to be willing to spend that kind of money to keep him here.

Kyle Okposo has been with the Islanders his entire career. He was drafted by the team in 2006 and everyone thought that he would be a staple of the Islanders rebuilding process. It seems that he will be heading out the door just as the Islanders are ready to compete.

It’s no secret that the Islanders need a top line winger for John Tavares. Unfortunately they will not be able to afford to keep Okposo at $7 million a year and improve other aspects of the team. For that amount of money, I think the Islanders will let him walk.

Frans Nielsen is in a similar boat to Kyle Okposo. He’s been around through the rebuilding process and hits free agency right as the Islanders are on the verge of competing. He was drafted by the Islanders in 2002. Although he didn’t really become a factor for to thw team until the 2008-2009 season.

Nielsen made $3 million this past year with the Islanders. Unlike Okposo, I think Frans Nielsen will give the Islanders the home town discount. I think the Islanders view Frans Nielsen as a valuable piece to this team. I think that the Islanders bring back Frans Nielsen.

Garth Snow is going to have a very busy summer trying to improve this team. He may have to pull off some trades to improve this team along with some moves in free agency. It’s definitely going to be interesting to see which route Garth Snow decides to go this summer.

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