Editorials

Islanders: Cap Struggles Can Price Them Out Of Casey Cizikas

By Matt O'Leary
Casey Cizikas #53 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Casey Cizikas #53 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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With the cap situation not getting any better in 2021-2022, the Islanders could very well lose Casey Cizikas next year.

Saying goodbye to a player like Casey Cizikas won’t be easy but it’s something that the Islanders might have to do next year due to the cap situation. He’s heading into the final year of his contract which carries a $3.35 million cap hit.

As Arthur Staple talked about this week on The Athletic, there’s a chance that the Isles are priced out of Cizikas due to the flat cap and the need to sign Ilya Sorokin, Anthony Beauvillier, and Adam Pelech.

I took to the greatest tool on the internet, CapFriendly’s armchair GM and was trying to see if I could make it work. Here’s what I was able to do.

My first step was re-signing RFA’s for this year and next year. I had to get Mathew Barzal, Ryan Pulock, Ilya Sorokin, Adam Pelech, Anthony Beauvillier, and many others signed.

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For UFA’s, I brought in Jonathan Bernier to back up Ilya Sorokin on a cheap deal. There wasn’t an option to have Semyon Varlamov be selected by Seattle in the expansion draft so I bought him out, but Varly would be my pick to be sent to Seattle.

I also brought in Blake Coleman on a cheap deal to round out the third line. I don’t think there will be much of a market for Coleman like we’ve seen with depth players in free agency this year and he is the perfect player for Barry Trotz and Lou Lamoriello.

He popped in 21 goals this past year, and 22 last year in a depth role. With Tampa’s cap issues, the chances he extends is probably slim so he’d be a perfect fit on L3 for the Isles.

As for trades, I did have to clear up some space to make it work for this year so I moved both Johnny Boychuk and Leo Komarov

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The Isles can take one of the second-rounders they got in the Devon Toews deal and move Boychuk’s cap hit to Detroit, one of the few teams who can take on his cap hit. As for Komarov, the Isles had to attach a prospect in Kieffer Bellows and a third-rounder to move Uncle Leo, but at least they get a fourth-rounder back to help mitigate losing one of their better forward prospects.

I have $1.97 million in cap space left to work with, but if you add the $666,667 from the Varly buyout (assuming he goes to Seattle) that number could be 2.64 million in cap space.

Cizikas maybe takes a discount at that point to stay but let’s just play the game, if he goes what could the lineup look like?

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Honestly, it’s not too shabby at all. The Martin – Cizikas – Clutterbuck line is no more, but both Michael Dal Colle and Otto Koivula seem destined for bottom-six roles on this team and I think they can begin the difficult transition away from that line.

I’m not necessarily rooting for this to happen, if Cizikas and Martin want back in for a combined $2 million, then okay maybe you roll with it. But signing these long-term and expensive bottom-six deals is what put the Islanders in this position in the first place.

Islanders fans at the very least have to accept as a possibility. It’s not a guarantee of course, but there is absolutely a chance that this is the final year of Casey Cizikas in blue and orange.

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In 534 games over nine years with the team, Cizikas has 171 points and 74 goals. Without a doubt, he’s an extremely reliable bottom-six player and an Islander who will be remembered fondly no matter when his time comes to move on.

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