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Islanders: Austin Czarnik can be the Dark Horse of the 2021 Roster

Feb 20, 2019; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames center Austin Czarnik (27) and New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) faces off for the puck during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 20, 2019; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames center Austin Czarnik (27) and New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) faces off for the puck during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /
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One of the New York Islanders first signings of the offseason could steal a roster spot this season and steal the show for the Isles in 2021.

About a week into the free agency period, the New York Islanders quietly signed their first two players. Austin Czarnik was one of the two players and he signed a two-year contract with an average annual value of $725,000.

Many fans did not know much about the 28-year-old forward from Michigan, but he could become a name that New York Islanders fans could come to love in the upcoming season.

Versatile Forward

Originally undrafted, Czarnik was a standout for the University of Miami (Ohio) Redhawks. In his four years at the collegiate level, Czarnik finished his final three seasons in the top-twenty in the nation in scoring. His best season came in his junior year, where he had 47 points in 37 games.

These performances led to the Bruins signing him after his final game in his senior season. The deal carried an AAV of $925,000 over two seasons. Czarnik did not see any time with Boston in his first professional season and he played the entire year in the AHL with Providence.

Fortunately for Czarnik, he played 49 games with the Bruins in 2016-2017 and impressed many. Though 2017-2018 did not go to plan and Czarnik only played ten games with Boston that year,  the Bruins decided not to extend their forward and Calgary signed him to a two-year deal.

For the only time in his career in 2018-2019, Czarnik played a full campaign at the NHL level. That season he dressed in 54 games for the Flames and had six goals, twelve assists, and a -1 plus/minus.

Last year Czarnik only dressed in eight games with the Flames. He started the early season well, but a lower-body injury placed him on the Long Term Injured Reserve, and when he returned he could not find a place in a solidified Flames lineup.

This leads up to now. The Flames parted ways with their centerman, who can also play on the wing if need be, and the Islanders decided to sign him.

Czarnik can be a solid option for the Islanders in 2021. He is a two-way forward, who has a track record of being a goal scorer, although he has yet to prove that at the NHL level. With the right linemates, Czarnik can become a huge asset for the Islanders.

He can be a role player and jump the likes of Michael Dal Colle on the depth chart. He also has the versatility to play center and the wing, which means he can fit anywhere on the depth chart. If the Isles do not re-sign Derick Brassard there could be a hole on the third line, with a great training camp Czarnik could find himself on that line.

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Although he may not be a shoo-in on the Islanders roster in 2021, if he does get the chance, Austin Czarnik could well be the Islanders dark horse in the upcoming season and fans should keep a close eye on him.

Isles Country: Where do you think Austin Czarnik fits on the Islanders? Leave your comments below!

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*All Stats Provided by the NHL, AHL, and USCHO*

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