Which of the New York Islanders pending unrestricted free agent has a chance to stay on the roster and which one is on the way out?
The New York Islanders are going to have to make some decisions in the offseason. With a flat cap and only $8.119 million in salary-cap space for the 2020-21 NHL season, they need to be smart about where they spend their money.
We all know about their precarious position with the cap and their three pending restricted free agents Mathew Barzal, Ryan Pulock, and Devon Toews. The Isles don’t really have the cap space to sign all three without making a move to clear more cap space.
And we haven’t yet considered the Islanders UFA position.
There are five pending UFA’s on the Islanders main roster:
Thinking about the Isles position with the cap next season as well as how each player fits into what the Isles are doing, how likely are they to keep any of their pending UFAs? And who’s likely on the way out?
Matt Martin – Odds of staying: 2/5
After being reunited with the Islanders following a short stint in Toronto, Matt Martin was able to pick up where he left things on the Island. The “best fourth line in hockey” was again a driving force in the Islanders play with Barry Trotz putting out his ‘identity line’ to start games and for every period.
With Martin’s four-year $10 million deal expiring what do the Isles do with one-third of the “best fourth line in hockey”?
Martin would likely take a discount on his $2.5 million cap hit but the Islanders have a few players they can insert in Martin’s spot on the fourth line. They aren’t in desperate need of Martin’s services. So even at a discount it might not makes sense for the Islanders.
With that being said the team and the fans love Martin. And that might be enough for Lou to try and find space.
Derick Brassard – Odds of staying: 0/5
He was brought in to be the team’s third-line center in August. His performance at that position was so poor that the Islanders traded for Jean-Gabriel Pageau at the deadline and signed him to a six-year $30 million contract.
There is no chance Brassard is back in 2020-21.
Tom Kuhnhackl – Odds of staying: 1/5
Kuhnhackl was brought in as a 13th forward back in 2018. And for two seasons he’s been exactly that. Kuhnhackl comes into the lineup to cover for injuries to the regular 12 or when Barry Trotz needs a fresh player to spark his team.
But with Michael Dal Colle on the roster is it necessary to have Tom Kuhnhackl? Doesn’t Michael Dal Colle do the same job?
When you compare the advanced analytics for the two, Dal Colle comes out as the better player (not by much). With Dal Colle already signed for $700,000 why re-sign Kuhnhackl?
Lou and Barry like Tom Kuhnhackl a lot so there’s a chance they get him on a league-minimum ($700,000) and lock him in as the 13th forward in 2020-21. But there’s an even greater chance they let him go and roll with Dal Colle.
Andy Greene: 3/5
The Isles gave up a 2021 second-round pick and David Quenneville for Andy Greene’s services at the trade deadline. At 37-years-old and on an expiring contract, the Andy Greene acquisition didn’t scream “keep him longer”. But he’s earned another year.
Since the pre-post-season training camp, Andy Greene has been one of the Islanders better blueliners. Once the post-season started he effectively pushed Johnny Boychuk down the depth chart and has kept him out of the lineup.
He’s not putting up mindblowing numbers or manhandling the opposition physically. He’s just rock solid on the blue line. His positioning is impeccable. His first pass out of the zone is great. He’s the perfect fit to pair alongside young righty Noah Dobson next season.
The cost for the veteran will certainly be affordable. That is of course if the Islanders move some of their other blueliners with cap heavy deals.
Thomas Greiss: 0/5
He’s been great for the franchise since he arrived in 2015. He stepped up big when Halak went down with an injury in 15-16. He put up a 23-11-4 record and averaged a2.36GAA and 0.925SV%. His play in the Florida series that year was a major factor in the Islanders progressing past the first round for the first time in 23 years.
Greiss put up an even more impressive season in 2018-19 where he (and Robin Lehner) combined for the fewest goals against in the league earning a Jennings Trophy in the process.
But with Semyon Varlamov signed for another three years and with Ilya Sorokin signed for next season, there’s no room left for Thomas Greiss.