We're a ways away from free agency on July 1, but with nearly $15 million in cap space on the opening of free agency frenzy, the New York Islanders are going to be in a position to make a big-time acquisition.
Now, assuming every player who is approaching free agency actually makes it there, who are some of the players that should interest the Islanders?
New York Islanders: Three interesting pending UFAs
The single largest need for the Islanders is a top-line winger. They've needed one since 2009 and still need one today to play alongside Mathew Barzal. That's the focus of this piece. Top-end offensive talent.
Filip Forsberg | Nashville
Stats: 37GP, 25G, 16A, 41Pts
Turning 28 in August, Forsberg is at the peak of his powers in the NHL. His 41 points in 37 games put him on pace for 91 points on the year. On points alone, he's what the Islanders are looking for. More specifically though, he scores, a lot.
Since entering the league in 2014-15, he's put up 203 goals in 534 games. That's 0.38 goals per game. Making Forsberg a 30 goal scorer over his entire NHL career.
This year he's been putting them in from just about everywhere as evidenced by his finishing heat-map from Hockey Viz. Perfect for the Isles. (Unless he's really attached to that mustache of his.)
Johnny Gaudreau | Calgary Flames
Stats: 20G, 43A, 63Pts
Only six players have more points than Johnny Gaudreau since 2014-15. McDavid, Kane, Crosby, Marchand, Draisaitl, and Ovechkin. That's it. That's the list. That alone should convince you the Islanders need to be in on Gaudreau if he becomes a free agent.
For seven years now Johnny Gaudreau has been one of the better players in the NHL. That's the type of player Lou Lamoriello has been trying to add to his team for years now. So if Gaudreau makes it to the open market (there's no guarantee he will of course), expect Lou to make a strong play for him.
Tomas Hertl | San Jose Sharks
Stats: 49GP, 22G, 18A, 40Pts
Hertl has been a top player on a pretty bad team. Since 2018-19, Hertl has had 92 goals and 193 points in those 224 games played. It's a drop-off from Gaudreau but Hertl is still a good player that can play down the middle and on the wing.
With a 53% win percentage over his carer, Hertl can be that right-handed faceoff man on the top line and then let Barzal take over center duties the rest of the shift. He'd also be a hell of a backup top-six center.