New York Islanders – 2018 Free Agency – Goaltenders
The New York Islanders will have a couple of major decisions to make regarding their current netminder situation. Jaroslav Halak will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. That leaves Thomas Greiss as the only other goaltender on the Islanders roster. Christopher Gibson is rapidly approaching “NHL-ready” status. We could see him in an Islanders sweater before the season ends in what would be an audition of sorts.
If the Islanders see enough out of Gibson to pair him with Greiss for the foreseeable future, great. But if the Isles find themselves without a clear-cut plan moving forward into 2018-19, they may need to explore the goalie market in free agency.
Let’s take a look at the available netminders going into free agency this offseason.
Player 2017-18 Salary Cap Hit
Kari Lehtonen $5.9 million per season
Cam Ward $3.3 million per season
Jonathan Bernier $2.75 million per season
Antti Niemi $1.5 million per season
Michael Hutchinson $1.15 million per season
Antti Raanta $1 million per season
To sign, or not to sign?
The New York Islanders cannot afford to continue without an elite netminder in goal. The Isles have too much talent up and down their roster to continue to sacrifice valuable wins to poor goaltending.
In my opinion, the Islanders need to sign Michael Hutchinson, who is wasting his prime years in the Winnipeg Jets farm system waiting for an opportunity. At the reduced salary he’d be available for, pairing Hutch with Thomas Greiss while Christopher Gibson hones his craft in Bridgeport could be a win for all parties involved.
The Islanders get to upgrade their goalie while spending around half of what Jaro Halak was costing them, while still keeping a more-than-capable Greiss on board too. So for $2 million per year, New York Islanders would add Michael Hutchinson as their new goaltender to form a platoon that will hopefully bring the New York Islanders into the age of Ilya Sorokin.
New York Islanders Remaining Approximate 2018-19 Cap Space – $4.7 million
Sign Michael Hutchinson – $2 million per season
Remaining 2018-19 Cap Space – $2.7 million
With the remaining cap space, the New York Islanders could then re-sign restricted free agents such as Brock Nelson or bring back non-active roster players whose contracts are expiring.
After breaking down the Islanders salary cap conundrum and their entire roster, one thing is for sure. I’m glad I’m not actually in charge of all this.