This past summer the New York Islanders said goodbye to three key players in Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, and Matt Martin. The 2016-17 season could be the last year for Thomas Greiss, Cal Clutterbuck, and Calvin de Haan wearing the blue and orange.
When the New York Islanders signed Greiss in free agency following the 2014-15 season, many wondered if he could be counted on to be a solid backup goalie. Those worries were thrown out the window at the end of last season.
After a stellar regular season (23-11-4, 2.36 goals against average, .925 save percentage) the 30-year old netminder and John Tavares were the difference makers in the playoff series against the Florida Panthers. That series win, of course, ended a 23-year playoff drought for the franchise.
As the Islanders head into a promising 2016-17 season, Greiss is on the last year of his contract. Garth Snow has a dilemma on what to do with the German goaltender. Jaroslav Halak is signed for one more year following the upcoming season. J.F. Berube is only 25 and deserves a chance to show what he can do at the NHL level.
Finally, 21-year old Ilya Sorokin is one of New York’s top prospects . The former third-round pick dominated the KHL last season (17-7-4, 1.06 goals against average, .953 save percentage) and is off to an incredible start this season (5-0-1, 1.20 goals against average, .939 save percentage).
As well as Greiss has played on the ice and has been a positive influence in the locker room, this could be his last season with the Islanders.
When the Islanders drafted Nino Niederreiter fifth overall in 2010 they were a lot of high expectations. While Niederreiter didn’t work out with the Islanders, trading him to the Minnesota Wild for Cal Clutterbuck was a big positive for New York.
The 28-year old Clutterbuck brings many contributions to a hockey club. The Ontario native provides secondary scoring and a two-way game that has a physical edge. Let’s not forget the leadership Clutterbuck adds to a locker room.
Clutterbuck is on the last year of a 4-year contract that has an annual average value of $2.75 million. If Clutterbuck can have a healthy season, where he is his usual pesky self and pinch in 15+ goals, there will be many teams interested in signing him in free agency, come July 1st. Clutterbuck should land at minimum a four-year deal with an annual average of $4 million a year.
The big issue for the Islanders in regards to signing Clutterbuck to an extension is not from a cap standpoint but rather the amount of top forward prospects knocking on the door. There’s a strong chance Mathew Barzal makes the Isles this season. Michael Dal Colle, Josh Ho-Sang, and 2016 first round pick Kiefer Bellows could be ready for a full-time NHL role come opening night next year. Don’t forget about the Islanders other first round pick in 2015, winger Anthony Beauvillier.
There’s maybe no room at the inn for Clutterbuck.
Calvin de Haan
It took a while for Calvin de Haan to be a solid NHL defenseman. Between developing his game and dealing with injuries the other Islanders 1st-round pick in 2009 (John Tavares) is now a solid contributor on their blue line.
The 25-year old de Haan could see his role of one of the Islanders top four D-men slide down to a third-pairing blueliner this season. That is not the result of de Haan’s play but rather the emergence of Ryan Pulock.
This upcoming June there is no way de Haan will be protected in the expansion draft. The Islanders already have four defensemen they must protect in Johnny Boychuk (no movement clause), Nick Leddy, Travis Hamonic and Pulock.
There is a good possibility that Las Vegas general manager, Geroge Mcphee, would select de Haan. If de Haan is not selected in the expansion draft, being a restricted free agent this summer, it’s possible Snow looks to trade him because of his new cap number, his role as a third-pairing defenseman, and the Islanders young blue line prospects knocking on the door.
This upcoming off-season will be a time for more New York Islanders moving on to new clubs.