The New York Islanders free agency signings haven’t been glamorous, but there’s a little bit more to the players that people are overlooking.
When your franchise player walks out the door on July 1, there’s no salvaging it. Lou Lamoriello is still a proven General Manager, and I fully expect him to fix the New York Islanders. If you thought the Isles would be a championship level team on the same day Tavares left, well I’m sorry your expectations are just ridiculously unfair.
There’s still more work to be done, a lot of work, in fact, but let’s not completely dismiss the Islanders two notable free agent signings yet.
One of the Islanders biggest flaws from 2017-2018 was their penalty kill. The Islanders finished last in the league in PK percentage with a 73.2 penalty kill percentage. Lou Lamoriello filled this need by signing Leo Komarov and Valtteri Filppula to deals on Sunday.
I agree that the term for Komarov was a stretch, and likely the salary too, but the Islanders were desperate for an improvement after losing John Tavares and Nikolay Kulemin too who was never replaced after going down with a season-ending injury.
Komarov was a major piece to the Maple Leafs penalty kill which was top-ten in the league last year. He played 193.9 minutes on the kill, which is an extremely impressive number.
More specifically for Komarov, he’s a career 12 CF percentage short-handed. If you compare that to Nikolay Kulemin who was a career 11 CF percentage short-handed in the NHL he’s better by a full percentage point.
Remember, Kulemin cost $4.19 million against the cap for four years when he was with the Islanders and the most amount of points he put up was 31. During the three years he was healthy he averaged 25 points a season.
Komarov, who had 19 last year, but has averaged 29 points over the last three years will give you similar production and a better penalty killer for a cheaper cost. Komarov also hits more than Kulemin and is an agitator that doesn’t take penalties (Just 31 minutes of penalties last year).
This isn’t going to replace Tavares obviously but this isn’t nearly as bad of a signing as people are making it out to be. $3 million is a lot for a fourth line player, I will not argue it, but it is an upgrade over Kulemin.
Valtteri Filppula should also help the Islanders out defensively while providing some, not a lot but some, depth scoring to the third line. Last year Brock Nelson was a disaster as the third line center, especially defensively.
Filppula has a career short-handed CF percentage of 10.2. On top of that, he also will give you decent offensive production for a third line player. In 2017-2018 with Philly, he had 33 points (11 goals, 22 assists). He’s a career .53 points per game player.
Plus, with a one-year deal at $2.75 million, there’s very little risk involved. If he’s bad let him walk in free agency at the end of the year.
Neither of these two moves are sexy, I get it, but they both will help out on the penalty kill. If the Isles are able to move up to an average penalty kill, Filppula gives you 30 points, and Komarov gives you 25, they’ll be in great shape on their bottom six and these signings can be looked at as successful.