With exit interviews over, and General Manager Garth Snow's State of the Islanders Address completed, The Islanders 2015/16 season has officially come to a close. Here a few things for Islanders to keep an eye on this offseason.
-Coach Jack Capuano and GM Garth Snow both will be back next season. This team has come a long way under these guys, but now it's time for the Islanders to take the next step. Another season or two without a deep playoff run, and new majority owners Scott Malkin and John Ledecky will be looking to shake things up.
-Travis Hamonic: Thankfully, Travis rescinded his trade request he made earlier in the season. The family situation that had him ask for a trade closer to home has improved, and Travis wants to stay in NY. Long exhale.
-Free Agency: With the Hamonic situation figured out, the Islanders head into free agency. Matt Martin, Frans Nielsen, and Kyle Okposo are all free agents. Ideally, you'd like to keep all three guys, as they have all been key contributors in the team's rebuild over the years. My opinion, Martin and Nielsen end up staying. Kyle Okposo is the biggest name of these three, and he most likely will get a juicy offer from another team. Casey Cizikas, Ryan Strome, Shane Prince and J.F. Berube are all restricted free agents, meaning the Islanders have the right to match any offers these players will receive. Isles will most likely sign Cizikas, and I don't think they can give up yet on Ryan Strome. Prince and Berube's situation will depend on what other moves the Islanders are looking to make.
-Goalie situation: With Thomas Greiss having a breakout season, and playing well in the postseason, the Islanders have some decisions to make. Their "number one" goaltender Jaroslav Halak will be healthy entering next season. That leaves the Islanders with Greiss, Halak, Berube(if they re-sign him), and Chris Gibson, who started a few games at the end of the season. Gibson will most likely stay down in Bridgeport next season, and I would believe that the Islanders would look to move either Greiss or Halak, while having Berube serve as the backup for next season.
-Key additions: For the entirety of John Tavares' career with the Islanders, he has yet to play with line mates who are on his level. For years, the talk was that big name free agents didn't want to play at the Coliseum on Long Island. Now that the Islanders have a full season in Brooklyn under the belt, and are coming off their best season in 23 years, can they finally attract a big name? Steven Stamkos is the top free agent this offseason. I don't think the Islanders are able to bring him in, but oh man how much fun would it be to see him and JT play together on the same line. GM Garth Snow said that he will leave no stone unturned, and knows this team has to get better in order to take it to the next level. The Islanders do have some strong prospects in their system as well, so they could look for help from within. They also will have Anders Lee returning from a broken fibula he suffered late in the season.
There is a strong possibility that this team looks completely different at the beginning of next season. Stay tuned for any updates or rumors that surface.