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Islanders re-sign Thomas Hickey, lose Jaroslav Halak

Thomas Hickey of the Islanders is pursued by

Thomas Hickey of the Islanders is pursued by Zack Kassian of the Edmonton Oilers during an NHL game at Barclays Center on November 7, 2017. Credit: Steven Ryan

The Islanders lost franchise player John Tavares to his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs, the team he rooted for as a child.

But there still was business to be conducted Sunday as the free-agency period began.

The Islanders re-signed one of their own unrestricted free agents, defenseman Thomas Hickey, and agreed to deals with UFA center Leo Komarov, formerly of the Maple Leafs, and Valtteri Filppula, who played with the Flyers last season.

Goalie Jaroslav Halak and forward Chris Wagner, also UFAs, signed with the Boston Bruins.

Hickey, 29, agreed to a four-year, $10-million deal with a salary-cap hit of $2.5 million. He spent the past six seasons resurrecting his career with the Islanders after being claimed off waivers from the Kings, who picked him fourth overall in 2007. Hickey, who never reached the NHL with the Kings, has become a steady top-four defenseman for the Islanders and had five goals and 20 assists in 69 games last season, matching his career high for assists.

Komarov, 31, spent the past four seasons with the Maple Leafs after the Russian came to North America from the KHL. He agreed to a four-year, $12-million deal with a cap hit of $3 million after notching seven goals and 12 assists in 74 games. His strength comes as a penalty-killer and as a bottom six forward in a checking-line role.

Like Komarov, Filppula, 34, who agreed to a one-year, $2.75-million deal, is a strong penalty-killer who can provide depth among the bottom-six forwards. He had 11 goals and 22 assists in 81 games for the Flyers.

Wagner, 27, who agreed to a two-year, $2.5-million deal with a cap hit of $1.25 million, had one goal in 15 games for the Islanders after being acquired at the trade deadline Feb. 26 for Jason Chimera. Former Islanders forward Alan Quine, made a UFA when the Islanders did not extend him a qualifying offer, agreed to a deal with the Calgary Flames.

Halak, 33, agreed to a two-year, $5.5-million deal with a $2.75-million cap hit after proving not to be the solution in the Islanders’ long-term search for a No. 1 goalie.

He went 20-26-6 with a 3.19 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage last season after splitting the previous season between the Islanders and Bridgeport (AHL). His departure was expected, but the Islanders still are searching for a No. 1 goalie even with Thomas Greiss having two seasons left on his three-year, $10-million deal.

And, of course, with Tavares off to Toronto, the Islanders now have a definite need for a top-six center.


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