Casey Cizikas has cashed in on his career year by turning it into a long-term extension with the New York Islanders.
The Islanders announced Thursday afternoon that Cizikas, 25, has signed a five-year deal to stay with the club. Newsday’s Arthur Staple reported the new contract is worth $16.75 million total, meaning Cizikas’ deal will carry a hefty cap hit of $3.35 million for each of the next five seasons. The contract comes at the culmination of Cizikas’ two-year, $2-million contract that ended this past season and saw Cizikas heading towards July 1 as a restricted free agent.
Cizikas, who was one-third of one of the most beloved fourth lines in hockey last season alongside Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin, signs his new deal following the most productive season of his career. In 80 games during the 2015-16 campaign, Cizikas notched eight goals and a career-best 29 points while averaging nearly 13 minutes of ice time per game.
“Casey has developed into a highly dependable two-way center and we’re pleased to sign him through 2021,” Snow said in a release. “His energy and passion both on the ice and in the community, make him an invaluable piece of our lineup.”
With Cizikas back under contract, there’s still a chance the Islanders’ fourth line can be reunited. Matt Martin is heading into unrestricted free agency, but Cizikas’ signing means the other two members of the three-man unit are locked through next season. If the Islanders bring back Martin, they can reform the line for the 2016-17 campaign. That said, the Islanders could try to go another direction and inject more speed into their lineup.
Cizikas will almost certainly take on more duty than simply his bottom-six minutes, though, and that could by what led the Islanders to ink him long-term for a sum of money that some would consider an overpayment.
Cizikas was a fixture on the Islanders’ penalty kill and has been for the past three seasons. He has fared pretty well in terms of shot suppression over the past three campaigns, too. Per 60 minutes of shorthanded ice time, opponents have only mustered 49.25 shots on the power play when Cizikas is on the ice. Of the 42 players to play at least 400 shorthanded minutes over the past three seasons, Cizikias’ shot suppression ranks ninth.
As if his role on the power play wasn’t important enough, it might be expanded this coming season, if that’s even possible. Frans Nielsen could potentially hit unrestricted free agency this off-season which would open a massive hole on the power play, no doubt making Cizikas the top most-used penalty killer on the Islanders.
With Cizikas locked up, the Islanders now have roughly $13.2 million to work with if the salary cap remains at $71.4 million. Key free agents such as Nielsen and RFAs Ryan Strome, Shane Prince and Alan Quine remain unsigned, and the Islanders will also likely attempt to bring back RFA goaltender Jean-Francois Berube.