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New York Islanders Pending Free Agents Overview

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 16: Anders Lee #27 and Robin Lehner #40 of the New York Islanders celebrates Lee's goal at 17:44 of the third period against the Edmonton Oilers at the Barclays Center on February 16, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Islanders defeated the Oilers 5-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 16: Anders Lee #27 and Robin Lehner #40 of the New York Islanders celebrates Lee's goal at 17:44 of the third period against the Edmonton Oilers at the Barclays Center on February 16, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Islanders defeated the Oilers 5-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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TORONTO, ON – DECEMBER 29: Brock Nelson #29 of the New York Islanders skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on December 29, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Islanders defeated the Maple Leafs 4-0.(Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

Stephen Gionta, C

Gionta is currently 35 years old with a cap hit of $650,000. He spent most of this season down in the AHL, with the exception of five games. In those five games, Gio did not record a point.

Although Gionta does not provide much offensively, he is a gritty veteran center who is a decent depth asset. If the Isles are going to re-sign him, it will most likely be around the same deal he has now — one year for $650,000.

Tanner Fritz, C/RW

Fritz’s 2018-19 ended early due to a blood clot in his hand. If this did not happen we could have seen Fritz in the lineup during the playoffs. Before the injury, he was playing with a fire underneath him and playing for his job.

Fritz currently has a cap hit of $650,000. If the Islanders want him back for a bottom-six spot (this may be likely now because of how serious Cal Clutterbuck‘s back injuries are), he may get a slight pay raise to about $1 million and another one-year deal.

Valtteri Filppula, C

Filppula was one of the iffy signings of GM Lou Lamoriello this past off-season. Val did not have a great 2017-18, playing in 81 games and scoring 33 points (11 goals, 22 assists). Additionally, Filppula was not great defensively, posting a +/- of -7.

However, Filppula made like Big Sean and bounced back this season. Playing in 72 games, Filppula scored 31 points (17 goals, 14 assists) and posted a +/- of 19. Additionally, Filppula played on the Islanders penalty kill.

With all this said, Filppula, now 35 years old, may receive another one-year deal at the same, if not, more than his current $2.75 million cap hit from the Islanders.

Brock Nelson, C

Nelson, 27 years old, is one of the biggest unknowns when it comes to Islanders pending free agents. After having a career year, it is still a maybe if Lou will pay up for the center.

The biggest concern for Nelson going into this year was if he could consistently score and handle the workload of the team’s number one center. From his stats this season, he definitely did this.

Last season, Nelson finished the season with just 19 goals and his longest goal drought was 17 games. This season, Nelson scored 25 goals, set career highs for points (53) and assists (28), and his longest goal drought was just eight games.

Nelson also developed into a good two-way center in just one season under head coach Barry Trotz. Unlike previous seasons, Nelson also killed penalties this year and finished with a positive +/- for just the second time in his six-year career.

Additionally, Nelson was one of the rare players on the Islanders this season to produce more offensively this year with Trotz’s new defensive-minded system.

Due to Nelson’s increased offensive production this season and his ability to play on both sides of the rink, he will want a pay raise from his current cap hit of $4.25 million to about $5.5 million.  Nelson will probably be asking for a four to five-year-long deal.

Although Nelson has shown he is more than capable in handling the first-line center position for the Islanders, it is still uncertain if Lamoriello is willing to dish out this amount of money for him. Lamoriello may want to replace Nelson with a cheaper option from Bridgeport, like Otto Koivula, and save the additional cap space to re-sign goalie Robin Lehner.

Lamoriello has let forwards go before to re-sign goalies instead. Remember the off-season before the 2012-13 season when Lou let left wing Zach Parise walk so he could re-sign Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur instead.

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