The free agent cupboard is looking bare and we don't know if Lou Lamoriello is opening it up to check to see what is left.
If he does, among the remaining free agent forwards yet to sign is former New York Islanders' 5th pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, Nino Niederreiter. Since being traded, in nine seasons split between the Minnesota Wild and Carolina Hurricanes. Niederreiter established himself as a consistent two-way power-forward with the ability to score 20 goals, having reached the mark six times in his career. In 75 games last season he had 44 points (24 G, 20 A).
The 29-year-old is a UFA for the first time after finishing up a 5 year, $26.25M contract he signed with the Wild in 2017. He was later traded to the Hurricanes in 2019 for Victor Rask. Niederreiter is likely looking for a deal in a similar AAV range for 3 or 4 years.
You know the story. Niederreiter was grossly mishandled by the Islanders.
He was rushed to the NHL and played nine games in 2010-11 then 55 the following season as a 19-year-old. His offensive production was dreadful, with three points (2 G, 1 A) in 64 NHL games. He spent the NHL lockout-shortened season in Bridgeport and reached the 50-point mark.
On June 30, 2013, GM Garth Snow traded Niederreiter to Minnesota for Cal Clutterbuck and a 3rd round pick (70th overall, Eamon McAdam).
""For us, it's immediate help and we're happy about the trade. "Whenever you have a good young player it's always tough to make a deal, but for us, if we didn't get Cal in return it's something we wouldn't have considered. We got a quality player who's going to be inserted into our lineup and help our team win.""- Garth Snow
The longevity of Clutterbuck's tenure with the Islanders and the prominent role he's played on the "Identity Line" arguably makes the trade a "win-win" for both teams nearly 10 years later. But it is never a good day for an organization when you move on from a first-round draft pick, especially one as highly touted and ranked as Niederreiter.
He has become a consistent middle-six forward and might be attractive as a fallback plan to a team that missed out on their first option but can still fill a need at a bit lower cost. If the Islanders had cap space you could make an argument that Niederreiter's power-forward makeup and ability to forecheck would be a good fit for Mat Barzal's wing.
But it is unclear if they are in the market at all at this point and would be reluctant to add any player that would force a subsequent trade to fit under the cap ceiling.