New York Islanders – 2018 Free Agency – Defensemen
The New York Islanders will be losing Calvin de Haan and Thomas Hickey to unrestricted free agency at the end of this season. The situation concerning Ryan Pulock, who will be a restricted free agent, also needs to be addressed. With the $12.7 million the Islanders have left after addressing their front line needs, it becomes time to turn their attention to the blue line.
Because of the severity of his season-ending injury, the only way the Islanders should bring back de Haan next year is on a low-risk, high-reward deal with incentives. Unless it keeps his salary in the $3.5 million range, there are just too many upgrades to be had for similar money.
If the Islanders can bring back Thomas Hickey for close to the $2.2 million he makes now, in my opinion, it would be worth it. If he is looking for more than a modest increase, it may be time to part ways. Let us assume that de Haan and Hickey do not return and then take a look at what’s available in the defenseman market.
Player 2017-18 Salary Cap Hit
Mike Green $6 million
Jack Johnson $4.38 million
Erik Gudbranson $3.5 million
Ian Cole $2.1 million
Luke Schenn $1.25 million
Deryk Engelland $1 million
What to do, what to do?
With a hypothetical $12.7 million to spend, the New York Islanders need to bring Pulock back into the fold on a deal similar to the one signed by Scott Mayfield today and sign Erik Gudbranson to a long-term deal for around $4.5 million per year. I’d also like to see the Islanders sign Luke Schenn to a deal for somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.5 million per year.
Plugging both of these players into a defensive unit that already includes Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk would give the Islanders one of the more formidable top-four defense pairings in the NHL.
New York Islanders Remaining Approximate 2018-19 Cap Space – $12.7 million
Re-sign Ryan Pulock – $1 million per season
Sign Erik Gudbranson – $4.5 million per season
Sign Luke Schenn – $2.5 million per season
New York Islanders Remaining Cap Space – $4.7 million