It may not be the transaction everyone hoped for, but the NY Islanders added some needed organizational depth this afternoon. The team announced the signing of Julian Gauthier to a two-year contract with a $787,500 AAV, along with Karson Kuhlman and Brian Pinho, to one-year, two-way deals.
Gauthier most recently spent time with the Ottawa Senators, acquired around the trade deadline from the New York Rangers. In 57 games between New York and Ottawa, Gauthier scored nine times, adding five assists.
Drafted 21st overall at the 2016 NHL Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes, Gauthier has yet to develop into the type of player expected of a former first-round selection.
At 6'4" and over 220 lbs, Gauthier's game is based on speed, and plenty of it. If you ask any Rangers fan, it seemed as if Gauthier found himself on a breakaway every game, rarely capitalizing on the opportunity. He's been incredibly inconsistent during his 153 NHL games, but perhaps a new home and the stability of a one-way deal could turn things around for the 25-year-old.
Kuhlman played 47 games in the NHL last season between the Seattle Kraken and the Winnipeg Jets, registering three goals and four assists. A 5'10" center out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Kuhlman looks bound for Bridgeport, as he'll serve as depth down the middle.
Pinho, 28, has been a lifetime AHLer, spending last season with the Utica Comets - the AHL affiliate of the New Jersey Devils. A 6'1" center, Pinho finished the 2022-23 season with 28 points (10 goals, 18 assists) and will likely play a similar role in Bridgeport as a middle-six center.
As Kuhlman and Pinho's contracts will go directly to Bridgeport, only Gauthier's deal affects the Islanders' salary cap. Now just $387,500 under the cap, these deals aren't likely to prevent any more significant moves Lou Lamoriello may be considering.