September 1st welcomed not only a new month and the beginning of hockey season, but also a torrential downpour of Islanders’ contracts. Notably, GM Lou Lamoriello has not lost anyone to free agency.
Follow along as I examine the multi-year deals announced today.
Anthony Beauvillier: 3x$4.15M
Beauvillier, an RFA, has signed a three year deal with an AAV of $4.15M. This deal eats one UFA season but walks him straight to free agency. The Islanders do have the option to sign him to an extension beforehand, however.
Beauvillier is streaky at times during the regular season, but is a playoff performer when the team needs him most. With 28 points in 47 games last season — and 13 points in 19 playoff games — Beauvillier still has not reached his ceiling and has room to grow into a consistent performer. This deal is already slightly below market value, and could prove even better if he reaches his full potential.
— Islanders Only (@IslandersOnly) September 1, 2021
Casey Cizikas: 6x$2.5M
An integral part of the team and the fourth “Identity” line, the entire fanbase no doubt found it easier to breathe with Cizikas officially re-signed. With speculation that he was asking for $5M to sign with the Seattle Kraken — and gritty, effective bottom-sixers now coming at a premium — the deal is a welcome sight. Both the team and player win here, with the $2.5M AAV coming in below market value and Cizikas getting the security of six years under contract.
Though some concern about a drop off in the latter half of the term is fair, half of the cap hit can easily be buried if necessary. Cizikas may not be an offensive powerhouse, but he is a cornerstone of the Islanders’ shutdown fourth line and arguably the best defensive bottom-six presence in the league.
Kyle Palmieri 4x$5M
The Islanders put pen to paper with last season’s trade deadline rental, and made sure that their first round pick was well spent. An effective scorer coming off a slight down-year, Palmieri does not shy away from playing physically and will prove effective on the power-play when allowed to play his natural position with Anders Lee now back. Likely to play as Barzal’s left wing, if they — plus a healthy Anders Lee — can replicate the results we saw in the few shifts they had together during the playoffs, this is a contract well spent.
“I’m thrilled,” Palmieri said to the media. “It was a place I wanted to be and I think the belief was that it was mutual. I had a good feeling it was going to work itself out and I’m really excited to be a part of this organization.”
Unrestricted free agents do come at a premium, especially in the current market, so the $5M AAV is not shocking coming in at just around market value. This contract should take Palmieri to 34 years old, with the last year or so potentially not as effective, But it is a solid deal all around for a team whose Stanley Cup window is here and now.
Ilya Sorokin: 3x$4M
Similar to Beauvillier, Sorokin’s contract encompasses one UFA year with the possibility to extend the potential franchise goalie before he is able to test free agency. With a .918 SV% last season and a .922 SV% in the playoffs, Sorokin quickly adjusted to his new role and won all four games he started in round one of the 2021 playoffs to take the series home. The signings of Igor Shesterkin (4x$5.67M) and Juuse Saros (4x$5M) set the goaltending market, so Sorokin’s contract comes in at almost exactly market value.
ILYA SOROKIN 👀 pic.twitter.com/4aKxfEEDlq
— NHL (@NHL) February 1, 2021
With the expectation that he takes on a larger role soon, this is a fair contract if he can maintain or even improve his performance, especially as he moves to become the starter.
Though these signings themselves do not come as a surprise, it is nevertheless comforting to know they are confirmed going into training camp. But this is unlikely to be it, as far as signings are concerned, with Travis Zajac expected to re-sign and Zach Parise to make his way to Long Island.
Follow Nicole on Twitter at @nicolefshirman