The New York Islanders surprisingly brought Tom Kuhnahckl back in 2019-2020. What will his role be on this team and what can we expect?
When the New York Islanders decided to bring Tom Kuhnhackl in last year it was a very low-risk move and it ended up working out well for them. He played in 36 regular-season games, about half the season, and had 9 points (4 goals, 5 assists) in those games.
He was on a $700,000 cap hit which is good value for someone who would be a fourth-liner on most teams. As we know, the Isles have a lot of money invested in their bottom six but they got good value out of Kuhnhackl.
In the playoffs, Kuhnhackl played all eight games on the second line with Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey. He had three assists and almost a goal against his former team but it was taken off the board because of an offside call on Matt Martin.
While I think Kuhnhackl is a solid fourth liner or a 13th forward I wanted, and still don’t, no part of him in the top six. If he’s on the second line again in 2019-2020 this team has bigger issues than we thought.
So realistically, what can we expect out of Tom Kuhnhackl in 2019?
With a little bump up to $850,000 he will likely be on this roster, it’s just a matter of what his role will be on this team. Despite a hole in the top-six, I highly doubt Tom Kuhnhackl is back with Nelson and Bailey.
With Andrew Ladd starting on IR, it looks like it will be between Kuhnhackl and Dal Colle for that other spot on the third line. MDC showed flashes as a third-line player but was inconsistent. Kuhnhackl has a little more experience and we know the coach loves him.
If I were to bet, I think he plays on the third line to start the year, and eventually becomes the team’s 13th forward.
He’ll play 40 games with about 12:30 in ice time per night and 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists). It’s not anything earth-shattering but it’s a productive number for a role player like Kuhnhackl.
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With the number of forwards in the mix on this Isles time, I would be stunned if the Isles decided to triple down on another year of service from Kuhnhackl after the season. A two-year run with the Isles will likely be it.