Once upon a time, Casey Cizikas was a 20-goal scorer. That was during the 2018-19 season when the NY Islanders were led by Doug Weight behind the bench on a team that prioritized offense and very little defense. Still, he scored that many only receiving fourth-line minutes and no power play time, however, in the following seasons, his goal scoring regressed to the mean. That's not to say Cizikas hasn't been a good player. In his fourth line, checking role, he's been an outstanding Islander which is why GM Lou Lamoriello awarded him with a six-year, $15 million contract last summer.
Since his 20-goal season, Cizikas has consistently scored 10 goals, including the 2020-21 shortened season where he scored seven in 56 games which equates to 10.25 goals in an 82-game stretch. Again, on the fourth line, that's pretty good. The thing about Cizikas is that he isn't relied on to provide offense despite his ability to show flashes of goal-scoring and playmaking ability. He's an excellent forechecker and defensive forward that's heavily relied on alongside J.G. Pageau to win draws and kill penalties with the ability to chip in short-handed goals.
Last season was an outlier for the 31-year-old center. Frustrations and fatigue took over, and Cizikas found himself in the penalty-box far more often then before with 48 PIMs last season. Majority of his penalties came after January 1st, sitting for 38 total minutes across 46 games. It's a double negative when arguably your best penalty killer is sitting in the box unable to help on special teams.
Much like the rest of the Islanders, Cizikas should be refreshed for the upcoming 2022-23 season, a huge factor for a player like him who plays with the intensity and aggressiveness of his nature. Cizikas is relied on along with the rest of the fourth-line to bring the energy and electricity, something he, Cal Clutterbuck, and Matt Martin were best known for as the "best fourth line" in hockey, bringing fans to their feet and energizing the rest of the lineup.
There's reason to believe Cizikas can return to his former self with some electric shifts, throwing clean hits, staying out of the penalty box, and helping kill penalties as one of the Isles best PKers. If not, the Islanders may have to rethink what their fourth line looks like as that well could be running dry if they're unable to find their former selves. Cizikas has five years remaining on his contract so one can reasonably expect a bounce-back performance from him as he's shown he still has the pep in his step, but just needs to remain disciplined. If not, that contract, despite the low cap hit, could spell trouble.