The New York Islanders are on the verge of a midseason turnaround, and a few key players who are a part of that are going to be free agents at the end of this season.
The Islanders have already extended the contract of John Tavares, but he is not the only one who the team needs. Kyle Okposo has his five-year contract and, after a rough start, he has turned his season around and is playing up to expectations. The same goes for sophomore Michael Grabner.
The Islanders are starting to play as the team that fans want to see, thanks to young talent, veteran leadership and an improving coaching staff.
If the Isles want to keep their current success going, a few key signings need to occur.
The 21-year-old is currently playing his second season in the big leagues, and he has proven himself as the top defenseman on the team.
The Islanders need to keep Hamonic as long as they can. The kid is going to keep growing into a top defenseman in the league.
He shows a leader presence on the ice, telling players where to go, and he is definitely not afraid to take the body.
In 37 games this season with the Isles, Hamonic has 10 points, 97 hits and 93 block shots—and he's missing a tooth!
Saturday night's game against the Anaheim Ducks is going to be the Hammer's 100th consecutive game.
An extension on Travis's contract would be a key move for the Islanders and would make Garth Snow's job simpler when his free agency comes around after next season.
The biggest physical presence on the ice is no doubt coming from the powerful winger Matt Martin.
Martin still leads the league with 162 hits in only 37 games played—that's eight hits more than Cal Clutterbuck in 100 fewer minutes played.
Other than a physical presence on the ice, Martin is also developing into somewhat of a secondary scorer, with eight points in his 37 games played.
Martin also knows how to fight. But most importantly, he knows when to fight. Martin has drawn big power plays by not accepting a challenge to fight, proving himself an even smarter player then he seems.
His big presence on the ice and growing offensive skill is something the Islanders could definitely use in the coming seasons.
The two-way forward is one of the Isles' top players who no one has ever heard of. Not only does Nielsen play on the Isles' second line, he is also one of the Isles' top penalty killers.
In 37 games so far this season, Nielsen has racked up 19 points and has scored two big shootout goals to lock in wins for the Isles.
He also has 33 takeaways to add to his two-way play, and he led the NHL in short-handed goals last season, with seven.
Nielsen has proven to be a key players in the penalty kill, the power play (where he plays on the defensive pair with Mark Streit) and the shootout.
The Islanders do not want to lose their silent killer who only makes the league minimum. So, please, Garth, make the right call here.
Another silent scoring threat in the NHL is the right winger P.A. Parenteau. The ninth-round draft pick currently has 32 points in 37 games played, including 25 assists.
The Islanders have a few players who just make magic happen when they're on the ice—and Parenteau is one of them.
Parenteau is almost another John Tavares out there on the ice—he can always make plays happen.
Parenteau also has great chemistry with linemates Matt Moulson and Tavares, and that chemistry shows up on all of their point totals.
If the Islanders want to keep their scoring threat intact and good players on Long Island, re-signing Parenteau is a must.
Álvaro Montoya has proven himself as the starting goaltender on Long Island, before he faced a concussion—thanks to Evander Kane!
The Isles were in a love triangle when it comes to goalies with Montoya, Rick DiPietro\ and the lovable Evgeni Nabokov. But early on in the season, Montoya proved he wanted the spot.
In 17 starts, Montoya is 6-5-3 with a .917 save percentage and a 2.46 goals-against average, passing both Nabokov and DiPietro.
Montoya is currently fighting through a concussion, and I'm sure he's eager to return to the ice. Not only that, but Montoya also makes time out of his day to be on Good Morning America to make the Isles' donation to the coat drive!
Montoya seems to love the Islanders, and the Islanders love him. He has done nothing but prove himself. So let's lock him up long-term.
I guess this would make DiPietro the highest-paid backup in the league.