This has not appeared on the team’s official transaction feed nor in my inbox, but the New York Islanders have reportedly agreed to a new one-year contract with utility winger Tom Kuhnhackl at a rate of $850,000.
So tweets Ren Lavoie of TVA (you can have it in French if you prefer), who is a reliable reporter and not one to tell tall tales about a replacement winger on your Saturday morning just for the attention.
Tom Kuhnhackl signed a one year deal with the @NYIslanders at $850 000.— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) June 29, 2019
That would be a $150,000 raise over his 2018-19 rate.
In 36 regular season games, Kuhnhackl had four goals and five assists for the Islanders in 2018-19. He added three assists and one overturned goal in eight playoff games. Coach Barry Trotz sang his praises as a reliable role player with insight and experience from championship teams.
Kuhnhackl was a reclamation project for the Islanders last year as they sought to add “guys who’ve been there” and all that. In that sense, he served the role: He passed through waivers to begin the season, sat as a healthy scratch for long stretches of time, and stepped into various defensive, penalty kill, and the occasional top-six role when injuries called.
It’s that latter role that will give Islanders fans hives, though. So often the Islanders, over two management teams now, have placed low-upside guys in offensive roles in a pinch because they are known quantities. There is some purpose to occasionally deploying guys as reliable examples of adherence to team structure...but only to a point.
Not that Kuhnhackl doesn’t have talent: He’s an NHL player, who can occasionally bust out with the impressive goal, like his postage-stamp-perfect shot that opened scoring against the Penguins only to be called off, and his “great effort but come on, goalie” goal of the year against the Canucks.
Rather, it’s just important they use him appropriately, a 12th or 13th “break glass in case of emergency” forward rather than someone to use for meaningful stretches in the top six next to the Islanders’ best offensive threats.