Continuing our best of series, today we will look at the best player to wear number 53 for the New York Islanders in their history.
In the Islanders‘ history, just three players have worn the number 53 during their time with the team. In the 1988 season, Mike Walsh became the first player to wear it, for 13 games that season.
In those 13 games in number 53, Walsh scored two goals and shot at an 18.2 percent clip in the limited sample size. He would never play again in the NHL after that 1988-1989 season.
Nearly 10 years later, Zdeno Chara became the next player to wear the number. He wore it in 1997-98 in 25 games during his rookie season. He had just one point in those 25 games with the Islanders before switching to the number three for the next three years.
That leaves Casey Cizikas as our obvious choice for our winner today. Zeeker was a fourth-round pick in the 2009 draft and made his debut for the Isles in the 2011-2012 season. In 15 games, he put up four points.
The following year, at age 21, he became a regular for the Islanders. He put up 15 points in the lockout-shortened season in 2012-2013 and stuck with the NHL squad ever since. The 2013-2014 season was the first year the “best fourth line in hockey” which was put together when the Islanders traded for Cal Clutterbuck.
2014-15 was arguably the prime of that line as Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck were one and two In the league in hits with Cizikas as the glue keeping that line together. The following year saw a career-high, at the time, with a 29 point season (8 goals, 21 assists) from Casey Cizikas.
After the 2016 season, Garth Snow decided to extend Cizikas to a controversial contract. He went from making $1 million against the cap to $3.35 over five years. At first, this deal didn’t look so hot with Cizikas playing just 59 and 64 games in the first two years of the deal.
That all changed in 2018-2019. Under Barry Trotz, a majority of the Islanders regressed offensively, not Cizikas. He scored 20 goals and 33 points from the fourth line. If that’s not a bang for your buck, on top of all the other responsibilities that Cizikas has I don’t know what is.
For the second time in his career, Cizikas cracked double-digit goals again this year with 10 in 48 games. Over a pace of 82 games, that’s 17 goals, a more than fine return for your fourth-line center.
Without a shadow of a doubt, Casey Cizikas is the best fourth line center in the sport and he’s been a solid Islander over his nine-year career with the team.