The New York Islanders announced the players receiving qualifying offers Monday, and Brandon Davidson is not among them. Neither are Shane Prince or Alan Quine. That means all now become unrestricted free agents, free to talk with other teams and sign elsewhere on July 1.
Most years the decisions on extending qualifying offers to restricted free agents are pretty easy ones. This year created a few interesting choices, however.
Prince and Quine battled injuries in 2017-18, and were basically tweener depth forwards when healthy. Both Prince (acquired from the Senators) and Quine (drafted by the Isles after re-entering the draft) had their playoff moments with the Islanders, but their fortunes have dipped since then.
Davidson was acquired from the Oilers by the Islanders for a 2019 third-round pick under former general manager Garth Snow, but his release is something of a surprise on a team whose defensive depth was tested last year.
Re: letting Brandon Davidson head to UFA. He had a tough go with the Isles, but his peripherals are really strong, and having him on a cheap contract would have been worth it IMO. Also, Isles effectively throw away a 2019 3rd Rounder, which sucks. pic.twitter.com/pPtkG0aMjh— Lou York Islanders (@habermetrics) June 25, 2018
Each could theoretically still remain with the Islanders on differently structured deals, but they are now free to look elsewhere for one-way offers or higher AHL salaries as part of two-way deals.
2014 6th-round pick Kyle Schempp also did not receive a QO. He played 33 games in Bridgeport last season after playing most of the previous season in ECHL Missouri.
Those Who Remain
So that’s sort of the “news” from the annual qualifying offer announcement. Those receiving QOs include Brock Nelson, Ryan Pulock, Devon Toews, Kyle Burroughs and Ross Johnston.
Toews, Burroughs and Johnston are still in standard prospect territory. Their QOs are routine and a decent bet to be accepted, although Toews and Johnston are arbitration eligible.
Nelson and Pulock’s QOs were formalities necessary to retain their rights. But both will be seeking something other than a mere standard extension of their current deals. Nelson is arbitration eligible and coming off a $2.5 million cap hit on a contract that escalated to pay him $3.5 million last season. He’s also reached 20 goals three of his last four seasons — stopping at 19 last year — so he is a tricky case.
Pulock is tricky for another reason. It took a long while for the Islanders to feel he was worthy of regular NHL duty. But once it happened, last season, he showed himself to be a very good player on the rise, putting up 10 goals and 32 points from the blueline in just 68 games in 2017-18.
More interesting negotiations lie ahead for the new Lamoriello regime. Not that he doesn’t have bigger things on his plate this week.