23. Tom Kuhnhackl
Bringing in Tom Kuhnhackl is still one heck of a head-scratcher. With the players the Isles already had and already brought in during the 2018 free agency period why did they bring in a guy who put up eight points last year? It just doesn’t fit. Unless he’s on the scratch pad for 80 percent of the season. Ranking him 23rd shows you we think he should.
22. Ross Johnston
With Matt Martin coming back and his prior success with both Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck it’s hard to see where Ross Johnston fits into the lineup. He got his extension at $1 million for four years, but he likely spends much of 2018-19 on the scratch pad.
21. Matt Martin
With all of the bottom six players on the roster, it’s hard to see how impactful Matt Martin might actually be. But if Martin, Clutterbuck, and Cizikas can hit it off again like they did in 2015-16, Martin, as well as the other two, could jump up a few spots.
20. Scott Mayfield
There’s an argument that can be made to switch Scott Mayfield with Adam Pelech on this list. Both are bottom pairing defensemen. But Mayfield brings physical play that Pelech doesn’t. Although in today’s game you don’t always need that. Solid positional play, Pelech’s strength, is generally more valuable. So Mayfield takes last place for defenders.
19. Cal Clutterbuck
Like Casey Cizikas, maybe the return of Matt Martin can inspire a resurgence out of Cal Clutterbuck in 2018-19. But after a down year in 2017-18 that saw him put up 18 points and play on the worst penalty kill in the league, it’s hard to think he should rank higher than where he is in this list.