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New York Islanders Top 25 Under 25: At 13, Casey Cizikas facing competition

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The Islanders have some likable players on the fourth line who, combined, need improvement.

They're coming for you.
They're coming for you.
Bruce Bennett

A bulldog of a player whose engine always appears to be in high gear, Casey Cizikas by his own admission took a step back last season. Coming off the high of some bright moments in the 2013 playoffs with Colin McDonald and Matt Martin, he did not follow it up with an impressive season at age 23.

In 80 games his production (6-10-16) basically matched what he put up in 45 games (6-9-15) the season before. Of course, for a fourth liner it's not all about production, but it's about managing the puck and preventing the bleeding. Since the Isles fourth line last year was more problem than strength, Cizikas shoulders his share of the blame.

Overall, there is a general sense that his raw materials and approach should lead to a useful NHL player going forward. But it may not be at center, and it's likely to be subject to competition soon.

We were all in the same territory with our votes, which combined to make him our 13th among the Top 25 Islanders Under 25:

CIL Keith Mike B. Mark Mike L. Chris Dom
16 14 15 15 13 14 13

A few more words from the panel...

Mike B.:

The gentleman's C of the 25U25. What Zeeker gives a team isn't always quantifiable, but he didn't do all that he was capable of, measurable or otherwise.

Keith:

Bad season. If he didn't drop from my rankings last year it's only because of graduation and luck.

Ed. note: Indeed. Keith ranked him sixth last year, which is the average of where most of the panel ranked him in 2013.

CIL:

Cizikas was a disappointment as a 4th line centre in his first full NHL season. In fact, I believe 4th line centre is one of 4 needs that must be corrected if Isles are to be a playoff contender (top 6 F, top 4 D and 1A goalie being the others). There is potential for improvement, but contenders require prospects to take a job away from vets.

That said, I do think Cizikas has a future in the NHL, will pan out either as a good bottom 6er, or a run-of-the-mill fringe player. At this stage in his development, Cizikas should be a 4th line winger until he takes a job away from a proven and capable NHL centre.