The New York Islanders announced their slate of qualifying offers for restricted free agents while reportedly reaching terms with another RFA and working on a an extension for one of their UFAs.
The slate of QO’s was not much of a surprise: You knew they would extend the minimum offer to retain the rights to key NHL roster players Mathew Barzal, Ryan Pulock and Devon Toews, while a QO for Josh Ho-Sang had already been reported. Also receiving offers were their slate of AHL defensemen RFAs Kyle Burroughs, JGrant Hutton, Mitch Vande Sompel and Parker Wotherspoon.
Will Ho-Sang wear orange and blue again? Who knows. He was loaned to the Blues’ AHL affiliate in San Antonio just before the 2019-20 season went Pandemic Up.
The key RFA not extended a QO — and thus allowed to become a UFA — is goalie prospect Linus Soderstrom, who has battled a series of injuries over the last two seasons after showing such promise in a championship season with HV71. At 24, his career is at a crossroads and the Islanders clearly have decided to look elsewhere.
Aho Re-signs to Two-Year Deal
Meanwhile, the signing: defenseman Sebastain Aho has agreed to a two-year extension, with the first year carrying a sizable AHL salary ($275,000) and the second year being a one-way deal, according to Puckpedia. He’ll be slated for a $750,000 salary in 2021-22 whether he’s in the NHL or not.
Aho, an AHL all-star with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, is a solid depth retention for the Islanders. He’s probably good enough for a regular spot on a 23-man NHL roster, so keeping him in the fold is good insurance if there are injuries or free agent losses among the eight NHL defensemen who have thus far kept him from getting more NHL games.
That, of course, is one of the big offseason topics: With Barzal, Pulock and Toews to re-sign, the Islanders may need to make other moves to clear salary cap flexibility. It’s possible one of those moves would bring Aho back to the NHL sooner than 2021-22.
Meanwhile, another potential low-cost depth move would be if the Islanders are able to reach terms with Derick Brassard, a UFA. The Fourth Period reported the Islanders were talking to Brassard, 33, about reaching a deal before he hit unrestricted free agency. He was a late-offseason signing last year, agreeing to a one-year, $1.2 million deal for 2019-20.