Going into the 2018-19 season the New York Islanders are bound to lose a few players on the roster to free agency. And Tanner Fritz will be there to eat up their ice time.
Going into the 2018 free agency window the New York Islanders are bound to lose a number of players. Nikolai Kulemin has already left for the KHL, and joining him might just be Chris Wagner (UFA) and Shane Prince (RFA).
That’s three fourth and maybe even third line players gone from the New York Islanders roster. Likely to take their place is Tanner Fritz. The undrafted 26-year-old who put up 38 points in 35 games for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers is ready.
So long as Fritz plays a supplementary role on said fourth or maybe third line everything should be fine. He’s deserved a chance in the NHL but let’s not repeat first line duties again.
The Tanner Fritz Experiment
Back in March of 2018, Doug Weight was experimenting with his lines when he put Tanner Fritz next to John Tavares and Anders Lee on the top line. To be fair, Josh Bailey was out with injury, but at that point, Fritz was playing in a predominantly fourth line role.
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Its one heck of a promotion. It didn’t last. Even though he scored a goal with his new linemates in his very first outing. But the production quickly dried up afterward. And that’s to be expected. Tanner Fritz isn’t a first line player in the NHL.
Fritz excels in a role where he can play a forechecking game and use his speed to keep the opposition hemmed into their own zone. Such as the Islanders fourth line. Next to Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck Tanner Fritz can find himself a nice role.
Interchange him and Ross Johnston on the roster and the New York Islanders have a flexible fourth line. One that can play either a forechecking speed game or a more traditional checking or physical-line style of play.
In April he told Newsday’s Andrew Gross that he hoped he could make the team believe he had a place in the NHL. His efforts in 2017-18 should have done that. Not only did they give him first line minutes but time on the power play as well. They see something in him.
"“I want to try to get them thinking over the summer that I can be a player that can play in the NHL and prove to them that I’m worthy to play in this league,”"
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I think Tanner Fritz has shown the organization enough to merit a spot on the roster. It may just be on the scratch pad to fill in when necessary. Not on the first line next to John Tavares.