2017-18 Stats: 7G, 10A, 17p
Cap Hit: $3.35 million | 3 Years
When healthy Casey Cizikas is one of the hardest working players in the NHL. Casey Cizikas is paid like a third-line center and so he should actually be one.
With the acquisition of Valtteri Filppula in free agency, the Islanders finally have a player they can put on their fourth line and push Casey Cizikas up the roster. Because Casey is playing on the “fourth line” we forget that he isn’t only a tenacious forechecker. He’s actually an OK offensive player as well.
We forget that before injury claimed almost 30 percent of Casey’s 2016-17 season he was on pace for 35 points with just under 14 minutes of ice-time a night. That was the first year since the break-up of the “best fourth line in hockey” where Cizikas put up a career-high 29 points.
Cizikas isn’t a benefactor of his surroundings. He makes his own success.
Casey is never going to be anything but a hardworking player. He’s not going to be a premier offensive threat. But he can package production with the work ethic and style of play that Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz will want everyone on the roster to emulate.
Casey Cizikas is the New York Islanders third-best center on the roster. It’s time that the team actually play him as one rather than keeping him on the most overpaid checking line in the league.
Could playing Casey Cizikas on the third line backfire? Maybe, but the Islanders have insurance for that with Filppula. If it doesn’t work both can switch spots.