4 Islanders players who shouldn’t return next season

Since the New York Islanders have underperformed this season, it’s time to jettison a few players and turn the page on what has been a trying year.

Winnipeg Jets v New York Islanders
Winnipeg Jets v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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There is no way Robert Bortuzzo should stick around

Robert Bortuzzo is nothing more than a placeholder, and despite his long NHL career, he’s only appeared in 70-plus games just twice in a single season since he arrived on the scene in 2011-12. We’re looking at a defenseman this time, but someone who has spent their entire career on the third-pairing and whose game - albeit on the blue line - mirrors that of Clutterbuck’s and Martin’s. 

Bortuzzo is also 35 and in the final year of a deal he originally signed with the St. Louis Blues. He has just a six-figure salary, so also, like Clutterbuck and Martin, the Isles aren’t gaining much cap space with Bortuzzo walking, but it’s all about refueling this lineup with younger and more exciting talent, be it at forward or on the blue line. 

At this time, there are three players in the defensive rotation slated to be unrestricted free agents, with Sebastian Aho and Mike Rielly factoring in as the other two. None have a high salary, but of the trio, Aho is the likeliest one to stick around and provide a solid presence on the bottom-pairing if he re-signs. 

Aho isn’t as physical, but he’s younger, he produces more, he can contribute on the man advantage, and while short-handed. Meanwhile, Rielly has done a fine job as well, and he too could have played himself into a role on Long Island next season.