The Islanders locked up one of their own free agents Thursday, signing Casey Cizikas to a five-year deal worth $16.75 million. The $3.35-million average annual value is a big raise for the 25-year-old center, who had a career-high 30 points this season while earning $1.2 million.
The raise for Cizikas, who was a key part of the Islanders’ top-five penalty-killing unit and the center for the nominal fourth line with Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck, also is an indication that the Islanders might be ready to part with their pending unrestricted free agents.
Kyle Okposo appears certain to leave via free agency, with no contract talks between his camp and Islanders general manager Garth Snow since before the 2015-16 season began. Martin likely is headed elsewhere, too, with things quiet between his reps and Snow. Frans Nielsen’s reps have had recent contract talks with Snow, but nothing is imminent.
If all three leave, Cizikas likely will move up the depth chart to play a bigger role. That could happen regardless with Martin gone, as Cizikas and Clutterbuck could team with another winger to produce a bit more offensively than that line has in the past.