The New York Islanders continued their Strange, Semi-Transparent Summer by actually announcing some contracts again Wednesday. This time it’s the traditional summer mix of depth/AHL “but maybe this could help...” signings: a trio of forwards who will help AHL Bridgeport and provide potential bottom-six callup competition.
Julien Gauthier, a former Senator, Ranger and Hurricane, is the “headliner” of the group and receives a two-year, one-way deal at a reported $787,500 cap hit, per CapFriendly. A 2016 first-round pick (21st overall) of Carolina, he’s amassed 153 NHL regular season games, including 57 last season with the Senators and Rangers, who traded him to Ottawa for still more Tyler Motte.
A right-shooting right winger listed at 6’4, 224, Gauthier could be easily recallable replacement depth for the inevitable injuries to aging Best Fourth Line in Hockey wingers Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin — both of whom he outscored (9 goals) last season. He’s also on a deal that contains no cap risk if/when assigned to AHL Bridgeport.
The other two signings are one-year, two-way deals: Karson [don’t call him Nikolay] Kulhman and Brian Pinho [noir]. Kuhlman has 147 games of regular season NHL experience with the Jets, Kraken and Bruins. Pinho has mostly been in the AHL with the Capitals (Hershey Bears) organization, though he was with Devils affiliate AHL Utica last season.
Kuhlman, 27, has played in 147 NHL games with the Boston Bruins, Seattle Kraken and Winnipeg Jets, scoring 12 goals and 18 assists for 30 points. He was a member of the Providence Bruins (AHL) for four seasons, scoring 39 points (19 goals and 20 assists) in 74 career games. Kuhlman played four years at Minnesota Duluth, scoring 80 points in 146 games and served as the team captain his senior year and alternate captain his junior year. The Esko, Minnesota native played in every game for the Bulldogs from the 2014-15 season to the 2017-18 season. Prior to his time at Minnesota Duluth, he played for the Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL), winning the Clark Cup Championship in 2013.
Pinho, 28, was a member of the Utica Comets last season, scoring 28 points (10 goals and 18 assists) in 53 games. The Beverly, Massachusetts native was selected by the Washington Capitals in the sixth round (174th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft and played throughout the club’s system from 2018 through 2022, including two games for the Capitals during the 2020-21 season. Pinho played four seasons with the Hershey Bears (AHL), scoring 40 goals, 38 assists for 78 points in 177 games. He also played in 14 Calder Cup Playoff games with Utica and Hershey, scoring five points (three goals and two assists). The North Andover, Massachusetts native played four seasons with the Providence Friars (Hockey East), scoring 115 points (39 goals and 76 assists).
If you had to bet on who’s most likely to appear in an (NY) Isles uniform next season, you’d likely go with Gauthier, so good thing he still has most of the summer to wash that Stench of Ranger/Wolfpack off.
Per CapFriendly’s projections, the Islanders are riiiiight up to the salary cap with RFA Oliver Wahlstrom still to sign. Granted, they do not have to carry seven defensemen and you could move Gauthier and Kuhlman’s new deals to the AHL, but this final, near-flat-cap season is going to be a tight, delicate dance.