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Qualifying Day: New York Islanders RFA offers include Anders Nilsson, Kevin Poulin, Aaron Ness

No alarms and no surprises among the qualifying offers extended to the RFAs, but a few have uncertain futures.

44 and 45 have QOs, but different futures.
44 and 45 have QOs, but different futures.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Islanders have completed the standard and expected issue of qualifying offers to restricted free agents, but that doesn't mean all of these youngsters will be back with the team.

Goalies Anders Nilsson and Kevin Poulin each received QO's, which at this point only means the Islanders retain their NHL rights, but Nilsson has already signed to play with Ak-Bars Kazan of the KHL next season.

Both goalies have had rocky paths in the pros thus far, and it's clear the Islanders would prefer to have at least one more experienced (and better) goalie on the depth chart between Jaroslav Halak and them -- to say nothing of the multiple goalies the Islanders have drafted the past two summers.

Elsewhere, no-brainer QO's included Calvin de Haan, Casey Cizikas, Anders Lee, Matt Donovan. As reported by Arthur Staple of Newsday, among players who spent most of the season in the AHL, Aaron Ness and Brett Gallant were qualified, while Joey Diamond, Marc Cantin, and Matt Mangene (thrown in as necessary shrapnel in the Andrew MacDonald trade) were not. That latter group will become unrestricted free agents.

As a reminder: Qualifying offers include mandatory minimum (and modest) raises (usually) and are a procedural necessity to retain the rights of restricted free agents before the free agency period begins July 1. For players who are on the bubble, as Poulin was last summer and Ness could be this summer, there is little leverage for getting a better offer and they sometimes accept the offer as is.

For others, it's a step in a more interesting summer. Donovan and particularly Cizikas could be more drawn-out cases, as there is clearly competition coming in the pipeline for their roles.

And then there are players like de Haan and Lee, whose negotiations could be tricky, given their limited resume but promising performance thus far. For players who are sure to command more than a minimum raise, the QO is merely a step to retain their rights while a more elaborate contract is negotiated.