The New York Islanders have a very difficult decision for them coming up in a month when it comes to Casey Cizikas. After playing out a five-year $16.75 million deal, Cizikas is now an unrestricted free agent and can sign anywhere.
The Isles will have roughly $5.79 million in cap space and have to sign RFA’s Adam Pelech, Ilya Sorokin, and Anthony Beauvillier. It’s not going to be an easy task to keep Casey Cizikas but I think Lou Lamoriello should find a way to get it done.
Last summer, Matt Martin was extended to a four-year deal worth $1.5 million per year. To me, it doesn’t make sense to give Martin a multi-year extension like that and not Casey Cizikas.
The Islanders fourth line of Martin – Cizikas – Clutterbuck works as a unit, but we’ve seen on now multiple occasions that they are not nearly as effective when one or more of the pieces are missing.
Like it or not, Casey is the best of the three as well so will the line work with some veteran minimum plug at center? I’d argue no.
This past year, Cizikas put up 14 points (7 goals, 7 assists) in 56 games a pace of 21 points over a full season. The point production doesn’t tell the entire story. He’s a key penalty killer, a great faceoff guy (53.2% this year), and he’s a leader on this team. That stuff matters.
Barry Trotz and Lou Lamoriello have talked at length about the importance of this line for the team. If that’s so true how can you let the most important piece of that unit walk? Cizikas is the glue that holds that line together.
With how the Islanders play there aren’t many other places for Cizikas to go where he will get this amount of playing time. He’s averaged 13 minutes or more each of the last five years, whereas we know most fourth-liners see maybe nine minutes a night.
Would he take a hometown discount to stay with the only team he knows? I tend to think so, and I think Matt Martin hinted at that too.
How about a three-year $4.5 million deal ($1.5 million AAV)? It’s the same amount that Martin Is making per year and keeps him here for the length of his running mate, Matt Martin’s contract. Plus that keeps him under contract through his age 32 season.
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I don’t know about you but I’m fairly confident that Cizikas will be just as productive over the next few years. Sometimes depth pieces are expendable, this isn’t one of those instances.