NY Islanders: A case for Casey Cizikas becoming an Alternate Captain

Would the 32-year-old center embrace the opportunity?

Columbus Blue Jackets v New York Islanders
Columbus Blue Jackets v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The NY Islanders have many locker-room leaders on their 2023-24 roster. With much of the roster having played together for multiple years, each player goes about their business similarly without much need for critical interaction. However, while the team has been constructed with mostly veteran players, leadership matters both tangibly and intangibly. Some players show vocal leadership behind closed doors, such as Anders Lee, following a brutal loss. Other players set the tone with their efforts on the ice, such as Cal Clutterbuck fighting through a game with a face cage and nose plugs last season.

While the Islanders have a great set of three captains/alternates, in Clutterbuck, Lee, and Brock Nelson, this conundrum figures to change following this season. Clutterbuck is set to be a restricted free agent at age 36, meaning there is no guarantee he will return. Nelson also only has one more year left on his contract unless he is extended next offseason. Given these circumstances, who can be considered for a more prominent leadership role in 2024-25?

Casey Cizikas deserves to be an alternate captain.

Few players are both leaders on and off the ice. Casey Cizikas fits this bill as a lifelong center for the Islanders. On the ice, Cizikas is a true two-way forward who plays as hard as anyone offensively and defensively. He averages over 50 blocked shots per season and has grown to an average of 20 points per season. Having played on the ‘Identity Line’ with Clutterbuck and Matt Martin, Cizikas averages over 120 hits per season. He has also been an iron man on the ice, averaging around 70 games per season.

Cizikas has earned accolades from star players and hall of famers alike. “Every Islanders player should play more like Cizikas," said Butch Goring, pre-game against the Colorado Avalanche. "He never gives up on a play, always driving towards the net, and creates havoc with his defensive ability."

Mathew Barzal credits Cizikas for giving him more of an “eff it kind of attitude,” going hard after the puck, creating turnovers, and having a stronger forecheck. “I’m just going to skate as hard as I can," Barzal said. "Get a little more Cizikas in my game."

Even having played for just one organization since the age of 20, Cizikas has no desire to leave and genuinely wants to win a Stanley Cup for this organization. Upon signing his 6-year contract extension in 2021, Cizikas said, “Long Island is my home and will always be my home. There was nowhere else I wanted to be. I want to retire an Islander."

Having helped in Barzal's development and being a vocal leader in the locker room, Cizikas has earned himself an opportunity to be named an alternate captain, as his passion for the Islanders has never been questioned. He has seen a multitude of changes to this organization, starting from the Garth Snow-Jack Capuano era, which saw just one playoff-round victory. He was an immense figure on the 2018-19 Islanders team that overcame the John Tavares controversy to win a playoff round. Cizikas stayed even with the team in flux, moving from the Nassau Coliseum to Brooklyn, then back to Long Island in 2 different arenas. Add in Goring’s recent praise, and the writing is on the wall for Cizikas to have an “A” on his jersey starting next season.