The New York Islanders announced new contracts for their two remaining (non arbitration*) restricted free agents, with Calvin de Haan signing a three-year deal worth a reported $5.9 million, and Casey Cizikas signing a two-year deal worth $2 million (all figures from Arthur Staple of Newsday).
Both will be restricted free agents at the end of these "bridge" contracts.
The deal for de Haan, assuming some degree of health -- an unsafe assumption thus far, but more on that below -- could be a great one. The smooth-skating defenseman has quietly carried a big role in the AHL and showed in 51 NHL games last year that he was ready for a major role on the Islanders blueline. If he ends up playing most of those games as an expected top four or even top pair defenseman, a sub-$2 million rate on his second contract is a good deal for team and player. Both can use the next three years to clarify his true value.
De Haan is one of those players who carries the "injury prone" label but whose injuries have been as much tough luck as a sign of anything chronic. Separate injuries to both shoulders slowed his path to the NHL, but once he arrived last fall, he quickly demonstrated why the Islanders thought highly of him ... until a leg injury after a crash into the boards ended his 2013-14 in the season's final week.
Cizikas, a fourth-liner whose play by his own admission plateaued in 2013-14, gets a chance to prove he can rebound and remain a fixture in a lineup that is looking increasingly deep in the forward corps. The $1 million salary is the same as frequent linemate and travel buddy Matt Martin's, with both Cizikas (RFA) and Martin (UFA) scheduled to hit free agency in 2016-17.
The important thing for the Islanders is that neither deal carries enough commitment nor salary to become an albatross should a player get squeezed out by depth (Cizikas?) or be slowed by further injuries (de Haan?).
*RFA goalie Kevin Poulin, expected to be in the AHL, has an arbitration hearing set for later this month.