After a busy opening day of free agency on July 1, the Islanders made some smaller moves on Wednesday. The team signed Julien Gauthier to a two year contract, as well as Karson Kuhlman and Brian Pinho to one year, two way pacts. The moves come in the midst of inquiring on Alex DeBrincat in a trade from the Ottawa Senators, and these moves now put the Islanders closer to the salary cap ceiling.
While nothing has come to fruition yet on the DeBrincat front, it’s interesting to see what these moves can provide. Kuhlman and Gauthier have ample NHL experience, and while both took fourth line roles, they provide needed depth to that front. With the Islanders’ offseason moves in limbo, what do these recent signings mean in their immediate future?
Bottom Six Turnover:
With the Islanders in the running for DeBrincat, the Islanders will need to clear cap space to make room to sign him. As a result, to start the process, one of their heavier bottom six contracts could be on the way out. While Casey Cizikas is unlikely to be dealt as the center to their fourth line, wingers Matt Martin or Cal Clutterbuck are the most likely candidates. Both have cap hits over $1.5 million, as well as Ross Johnston boasting a $1.1 million average. With the former two options having one year left on their deals, they may take less sweeteners to deal. As a result, with Gauthier coming in among other signings, someone will be on the way out most likely for the Islanders.
Zach Parise’s Status in Limbo:
With Gauthier likely joining the roster full time, it adds more questions to Zach Parise’s status for next season. Following their July 1 signings, GM Lou Lamoriello said the door was still open for him to come back, but Parise has yet to decide on his future. If he were to come back, he’d likely match his one year, $750,000 contract from the past two seasons, meaning another money move will be necessary. However, with Gauthier locked up and the Islanders looking for other moves, one might question if his time in the NHL is over. Obviously nothing’s final until Parise says otherwise, but with the signings of Gauthier and others, his time with the Islanders may be over
The Latest on DeBrincat:
A few days following initial reports that the Islanders were in on DeBrincat, nothing has come to pass. The Islanders’ opponents in the bidding are, reportedly, the Anaheim Ducks and the Detroit Red Wings. Elliotte Freidman on NHL Network reported that the Wings and Senators were actively working on a deal, and for good reason. They have the resources to provide DeBrincat what he wants, with just about $9.9 million in cap space to work with. The Red Wings also terminated forward Filip Zadina’s contract to clear further roster and cap space. While the Islanders will get the room from possibly trading Jean-Gabriel Pageau and another piece, Detroit can easily match any Islander offer and then some. As a result, while the Islanders can offer the assets, it will come down to whether or not they can meet DeBrincat’s demands on a contract.