A look at the 5 key unrestricted free agents for the NY Islanders this off-season

New York Islanders v Carolina Hurricanes - Game Five
New York Islanders v Carolina Hurricanes - Game Five / Jaylynn Nash/GettyImages
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Hudson Fasching

Hudson Fasching
Montreal Canadiens v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Fasching was arguably the best story of the Islanders season.

An afterthought when he was signed in August and then again when he was a call-up from Bridgeport when the team was down multiple forwards, the 27-year-old displayed a high motor and ability to drive the net that made himself a noticeable presence night in and night out. He finished the season with 10 goals and nine assists in 49 games, becoming a reliable and flexible piece of the Isles lineup for Lane Lambert throughout the season.

“Honestly, when I got called up, I told myself, ‘Screw it, we’re just going to pretend I’m confident right from the get-go,' ’'  said Fasching in early March about his mindset after his call-up. “That was the game plan, and we’re just going to run with it, see how it goes. So far so good."

Throughout the year, when the team's effort level came into question, there was Fasching, always going full throttle, recognizing the opportunity in front of him. During the playoff push, he did more than that, scoring big and timely goals, including the game-winner against the Buffalo Sabres and the go-ahead goal versus the Montreal Canadiens in the regular season finale.

“He works extremely hard. And he’s worked really hard to be here and stay in the lineup and compete every night and make a difference every night, and there’s a reason why he’s playing such great hockey and made a stamp on our team this season,” captain Anders Lee said back in March.

Fasching did plenty to show why he should return and continue to be in the fold for the Islanders. His best spot long-term may be on a line with Casey Cizikas, but with Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck both under contract for next season, and younger players like Simon Holmstrom and Oliver Wahlstrom in the mix, a regular spot in the lineup will be something Fasching will have to fight for just as he did during the 2022-23 campaign.