Options From Within
The free agent options in 2019 are going to be attractive, but it’s going to be difficult for the New York Islanders to rope any of them in. They’ll be in direct competition with another 30 teams for their services, and the Islanders rarely win those.
Looking internally might be the Islander best course of action. Thankfully, they have a few good prospects, and maybe a starter that they took a gamble on that could be their man in 2019.
Linus Soderstrom: The Isles 2014 fourth-round pick is making his way to North America this season, likely making his debut for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The tall Swede showed his quality in 2016-17 as he not only broke a Henrik Lundqvist record for the SHL, but he and his team HV71 also took home the Le Mat Trophy.
By 2019 the team should have a good idea what this goaltender’s potential in the NHL could be. If an NHL starter position is his trajectory the lane will be completely open for him and his cap-friendly $803,333 ELC for another year.
Robin Lehner: No one wanted Robin Lehner at the end of the 2017-18. Not even the Buffalo Sabres, who didn’t tender him a qualifying offer. Making Lehner a free agent and forcing him to take whatever he could get.
Lou signed Lehner to a single year $1.5 million deal with the Isles, essentially asking Lehner to show the NHL he can be that .920 SV% goalie he was just two years ago. If he can get back to that level he might get a few more years out of the Isles in 2019.
Ilya Sorokin: The Isles third-round pick from 2014 still hasn’t made the move over to the NHL. With a few more years on his deal with CSKA Moscow, the Russian netminder isn’t likely to make the move till that contract has run its course.
With an average of 1.22 GAA and 0.937SV% in the KHL over the last three seasons, it’s easy to see why he’s so highly rated. And if Sorokin wants to play with the Islanders he’ll no doubt get the gig in 2019. Again, if he wants it.