2016 Free Agency
The 2016 NHL free agency was doubly bad for the New York Islanders. Not only did three fan favorites leave the team, but they brought in a player on a big money deal that the Islanders aren’t going to get out from for some time.
In July 2016, Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, and Matt Martin were all out of contracts and headed towards free agency.
After a $2.8 million deal expired with the Islanders Okposo was due a big raise. The Islanders didn’t want to give it to him. The Buffalo Sabres gave him $42 million over seven years ($6 million AAV). Okposo is producing less but is still a 45 point player.
Nielsen after debating an offer from the Islanders jumped to the Detroit Red Wings for what would amount to be less than the Islanders were offering him.
Losing a top line winger and their second line center left a huge hole to fill. Garth would replace Okposo with Andrew Ladd in the very same free agency window on a seven-year $38.5 million deal ($5.5 million AAV). Or maybe P.A. Parenteau was supposed to replace Okposo?
Parenteau was acquired in free agency in July but was waived come October in favor of rookies Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier.
Nielsen wouldn’t be replaced. Maybe Mathew Barzal was supposed to be the Nielsen replacement, but after playing the puck while standing in the penalty box on only his second NHL game Barzal was sent back to the WHL. Leaving the Islanders without a recognized second line center to play behind Tavares.
Andrew Ladd was the big name free agent they acquired. He was supposed to make up for the loss of Okposo and his 60 points. Ladd was and still is a disappointment. In his first season, he scored 31 points and followed that up with 29 this season.
Remember, Andrew Ladd was making as much as John Tavares. In a single day, Garth Snow set the Islanders back years.