The Islanders extended qualifying offers to five of their six restricted free agents by Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline. Not offering one to Michael Dal Colle, thus making the former first-rounder an unrestricted free agent, came as no surprise.
Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said at the NHL Draft, which was held in Montreal on Thursday and Friday, that there still were some RFA decisions to be made.
“We’re discussing one or two,” he said. “Whether it’s better for them to give them an opportunity somewhere else or not. We’ll make that decision jointly with them. In other words, it’s not us trying to let them move along. But they haven’t had an opportunity and we’ll do what we can for them.”
Forwards Kieffer Bellows and Arnaud Durandeau and defensemen Noah Dobson, Alexander Romanov and Parker Wotherspoon were extended qualifying offers. Wotherspoon is the only arbitration-eligible RFA — as was Dal Colle — while Romanov, acquired from the Canadiens on Thursday, is not eligible to receive an offer sheet from another team. The free-agent market opens at noon Wednesday.
Dal Colle, the fifth overall pick in 2014, has played 112 NHL games but only one last season, when he spent the bulk of it with the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. The 26-year-old was coming off a one-year, $750,000 deal. He entered the organization with high expectations but played only two “full” NHL seasons, dressing for a combined 79 games with five goals and nine assists in 2019-20 and 2020-21. Both seasons were shortened because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Islanders filed seven new contracts with the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association, including deals for defensemen Robin Salo and Sebastian Aho, who both could be on the NHL roster this season.
Aho, 26, who has played only 61 NHL games since being drafted in the fifth round in 2017, agreed to a two-year, $1.65 million deal after his lack of playing time made him an impending Group 6 UFA.
Salo, 23, who played 21 games for the Islanders in his first season in North America, agreed to a two-year, $1.6 million deal before becoming an RFA.
Defenseman Grant Hutton, 26, agreed to a three-year, $2.325 million deal. It’s a two-way deal this season (different salaries in the NHL or AHL) and a one-way deal the final two seasons.
Forward Otto Koivula, 23, who has played 20 games for the Islanders since becoming a fourth-round pick in 2016, also avoided becoming an RFA and agreed to a two-year, $1.6 million contract that is a two-way deal this season and a one-way deal in 2023-24.
Minor-league goalie Ken Appleby and forwards Andy Andreoff and Jeff Kubiak also agreed to deals.
The focus remains on Dobson and Romanov, who could form the Islanders’ second pair this season. Dobson, who enjoyed a breakout season, is coming off a three-year, $4.39 million entry-level deal.
Romanov, acquired along with a fourth-round pick for the 13th overall pick, is coming off a three-year, $3.53 million entry-level deal.