The New York Islanders could be big players in free agency come July 1st. One of their needs is finding a veteran player who can drastically upgrade their third line.
It’s no secret the New York Islanders struggled with their third-line play this past season. For the Isles to be successful this coming season that has to change.
A young veteran who can play a two-way game that comes from playing on strong teams and is a penalty-killer would be an ideal fit.
Here are the best unrestricted free agents that fit this description that will hit the market on July 1.
Matt Calvert (Age 28) is coming off his typical year. He is a grinding winger who plays both ends of the ice with some physicality. He chips in offensive (nine goals & 24 points this past season) but he is known as a responsible third-liner.
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Valtteri Filppula would be a great veteran presence to add to next years Islander squad. He can still provide secondary scoring (11 goals & 33 points) and can also help on the penalty kill. However, at 34 years of age how much tread is still left on the tire?
Believe it or not, Michael Grabner (age 30) could be a fit for the blue and orange. He can provide secondary scoring (54 goals last two years) and is a strong penalty killer. He still has the wheels.
Another former Islander hits this list in Blake Comeau (age 32). Comeau is a two-way winger that can chip in some offense as well (13 goals & 33 points with the Avs last year). Comeau was part of a very strong shorthanded unit in Colorado last season (finished with 4th best PK unit in the regular season).
Tyler Bozak was one of the Leafs more consistent players the last couple of years. He has size (6’1, 200 lbs) and is responsible in his own zone. While his offensive production was down last year (11 goals & 42 points), Bozak would be an ideal third-line center. Only negative is Bozak is 32 years of age. Obviously, Lou Lamoriello knows Bozak well from his time in Toronto.
Riley Nash is number one on my list from this group. While his career high offensive numbers from last year (15 goals & 41 points) will probably come down this coming season, there is so much to like in Riley. He has size (6’1, 190 lbs), is a very good defensive player, a solid penalty killer, can play wing or center, and is still in the prime of his career at 29.
If Nash (Riley that is) hits free agency come July 1st, Lou should be all over him.
Any of these players could be a really good fit for the Islanders. However, other than Riley Nash (fine with a 4-year deal for him), Lamoriello should be very careful in regards to length of the deal regarding these pending UFA’s.