One dream, one realistic, and one bargain player for the NY Islanders in free agency

The NY Islanders need an influx of free agents, but lack of cap space poses quite the obstacle. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t land a dream addition.

Vancouver Canucks v New York Islanders
Vancouver Canucks v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
2 of 3

The NY Islanders could sign a dream free agent in the 2024 offseason if general manager Lou Lamoriello created some much-needed cap space, but that doesn’t seem likely. Luckily for the Isles, there is one cost-effective dream free agent, albeit an older one, who may be on the market come July 1st if their current team doesn’t re-sign them. 

It’s a player who is a surefire future Hockey Hall of Famer and one who knows what it takes to win the Stanley Cup. Plus, they would help augment the Isles scoring, something we can all agree they need in 2024-25 if they plan on finishing in the Metropolitan Division’s top three again. 

We’ll talk about that dream free agent below, plus another player who would make for a logical signing and another who could become a force on the Isles fourth line. 

Dream Free Agent: Patrick Kane, Detroit Red Wings

This time last season, we didn’t know if we would enjoy the Patrick Kane Sweepstakes in 2024. Coming off of a procedure and rehab whose track record in the NHL was poor, Patrick Kane responded with 47 points in 50 games, and he’s a scoring threat the Islanders could easily afford since he’s likely to once again choose another potential contender at a reduced rate.

No, Kane doesn’t quite fit the Isles physical persona, but they have enough big hitters as it stands. Plus, for those potentially leaving the Isles following the season, there are also plenty of options in free agency that Lou Lamoriello can pursue for his team to keep their hard-hitting identity.

So if the Isles signed Kane, he would augment a scoring unit that ranked 22nd in the league last season with 246 goals scored during what was a bad year for goaltender Ilya Sorokin. Sorokin is still a great goaltender, and it’s reasonable to believe he will bounce back. But this past season did show that the Isles must anticipate some poor stretches for their franchise goaltender.

Finishing with 3.0 goals scored per game won’t help take pressure off of Sorokin, which is why the Islanders need a cost-effective yet solid scorer Patrick Kane still is. Now that we know Kane should play most, if not all, of an 82-game season and put up at least close to a point per game, he should rank highly on Lamoriello’s shortlist. 

Realistic Free Agent: Jack Roslovic, New York Rangers

One of the more underrated players in the league that the New York Rangers acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets at the trade deadline, Jack Roslovic’s inclusion on this list could nonetheless raise some eyebrows. He’s not much of a points producer who will likely put up about 45 points maximum, which was a career-high in 2021-22. Roslovic also isn’t the most physical player, having landed just 274 body checks in 445 career games. 

The Isles need at least another scorer and they also need to replace some of their heavy hitters like Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin, assuming the duo won’t re-sign for the 2024-25 season. But the reason he’s on this list has a lot to do with the way he picked up his game in the playoffs, and it’s something Roslovic can build on for the following season. 

And to be honest, you can argue he was catching on before the playoffs, with eight points and three goals in 19 regular season games with the Blueshirts. That may not be impressive in the eyes of some, but adjust those numbers to 82 games, and he’s giving you between 34 and 35 points and 13 goals. 

Again, not the most impressive, but not bad when you realize he averaged just 13:27 of ice time per game with the Rangers. He also showed a lot of compete down the stretch and in the playoffs, so even if he’s not one to land a ton of body checks that Isles fans may be used to seeing, Roslovic can still play with reckless abandon in other ways. 

Bargain Free Agent: Sam Lafferty, Vancouver Canucks 

Okay, so if Lou Lamoriello were looking for a more physical forward and one to sign for a bargain deal - expected cap hit of just $1.67 million per Alexander MacLean of Dobber Hockey - he may look no further than Sam Lafferty. He’s only entering his age-29 season, so he would make the Isles fourth line much younger should Lamoriello sign him and opt to let Cal Clutterbuck walk along with Matt Martin.  

Unlike Jack Roslovic, who can at least put up serviceable numbers on the lower lines, or lower lines when playing for a good hockey team, that wouldn’t be the case with Lafferty. He landed some epic body checks in 11 postseason games this past season with the Vancouver Canucks, but he was also shut out, having logged zero goals and zero assists. 

That said, he managed a single-season career-high in goals during his time in Vancouver, with 13 and his 24 points were the second-best of his career. But he also spent the season with one of the NHL’s premier scoring teams, so that helped bump up his numbers. 

While the dream free agent on this list would almost exclusively help out in the offensive zone, and the realistic option could create a serviceable balance between offense and defense, Lafferty is at his best when his team doesn’t have the puck. He can pitch in when in the offensive zone, but he was on the ice for just 32 goals allowed at even strength, and he also snagged a 91.9 on-ice save percentage. 

If Ilya Sorokin needed some help for the upcoming season, Lafferty would make for an excellent addition. No, he won’t do much to help the Isles improve their scoring, but Sorokin would be thanking Lamoriello if the Isles signed Lafferty. 


(Statistics powered by Hockey-Reference)