As this week has become a whirlwind of stress for many Islanders fans as they’re saying goodbyes to Kyle Okposo and Matt Martin while hoping Frans Nielsen returns, there is also frustration about who the Islanders should sign this coming Friday. Many fans want the “Go-all-in” and sign a player like Steven Stamkos. I don’t blame them as he would give the Isles a Crosby-Malkin type of team and help for John Tavares. Many fans are worried that without signing top free agents, the Isles won’t be able to reproduce the goal production left by Okposo and Nielsen. So once again, let’s do the math and see how bad of a situation the Islanders are in:
These are the following players that scored a goal for the Islanders and will no longer have contracts with the Islanders (I’m purposely putting Nielsen in here for the sake of this article, sorry):
Total: 58 Goals
So how do the Islanders recoup 58 goals? Well let’s take a look at some players who regressed and will rebound
Ryan Strome had a whopping 8 goals last year, add 10 to his total for this season. Anders Lee had a tough start and was on a streak to finish with 15 goals after scoring 25 the year before, so let’s meet half way and add 5 to his total. Shane Prince scored 6 goals last year but only 3 of them came with the Islanders. If he’s third line, he’ll drop around 12 more during a full season. Ryan Pulock, if he plays the entire year, could score 7 goals over a full season, 5 more than his earlier 2. Scott Mayfield can score 2 goals a year, 1 more than Brian Strait. Nick Leddy, whose usually good for 7-10 goals a year, only scored 5. Let’s not forget adding playoff hero Alan Quine to the mix for a full season can rack up at least 8 goals, 7 more than he scored last year.Let’s bring him up to average and add 2 more. So lets total up the younger players who need to come back to their averages:
Total: 42 goals
So when the math is correct, the Islanders should be looking for a free agent who can score at least 16 goals on a line with John Tavares and Ryan Strome. Now, for fun, let’s throw in Mikhail Grabovski and his 9 goals as he may not be able to play the whole upcoming season. You’re still looking at the Islanders getting two free agents to cover a whopping 25 goals. You’re not asking the younger players to excel over their averages, you’re asking them to hit their averages! That’s how bad of a regression it was for a few of the players. All they will do is bounce back, and most the numbers left by the free agents will be covered. Do the Isles have to throw 6 million to one player to cover 25 goals? Don’t think they need to, especially if that free agent is looking for a five year deal. How about 6 million for two players to cover the 25 goals? Sure they probably would, but again the Isles are not keeping them longer than three. But even if they did just sign one person to a 6 million dollar a year deal, you want the free agent to score the goals, that’s true, but you want players who will a positive influence in the locker room who can help the younger players grow as professionals so their numbers improve as well.
Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin were making statements during their final contract year. They weren’t always playing with John Tavares and they will probably get themselves big contracts and they deserve it. More importantly they’ll get the term of the contracts their looking for that the Isles simply can’t give. Can the Islanders survive without them? The team probably will, I’m just not sure about the fans. Free agency is less than 2 days away but after it’s over, you’re still going to need the younger players to produce for a full season. It will matter who the Islanders sign in the next few days, because the Islanders will go as far as their younger players do and they’ll need more guidance to help them get there. A few goals wouldn’t hurt either.