The Islanders have some uncertaintly awaiting them in the years ahead, and at least one writer thinks it create a ton of intrigue.
In his latest edition of 30 Thoughts on Sportsnet, Elliotte Friedman says the Isles' future is both interesting and difficult to predict, and that both ownership and the team's approach to their own free agents will have a lot to do with the direction the team will take in the coming years.
"The Islanders are a really interesting team to try and predict. In the next two years, their list of unrestricted free agents includes John Tavares, Josh Bailey, Jason Chimera, Cal Clutterbuck, Mikhail Grabovski, Thomas Hickey, Nikolay Kulemin, Dennis Seidenberg, and all three goalies," Freidman writes. "There are some very impressive prospects, including in net. There's new ownership, so we're not sure how they will approach all this other than chaining Tavares to the Brooklyn Bridge. The first test will be Clutterbuck. There was a heartfelt ovation for Matt Martin in his return. Clutterbuck doesn't have the same charitable resume, but he does a lot for that team. Same agency as Martin, too - Newport."
How the Isles address Clutterbuck's impending free agency will probably be a good barometer of where the Ledecky/Malkin group thinks this team is, and where it needs to go. Clutterbuck should be set up to be paid handsomely. Matt Martin pulled a $2.5m AAV, and based on the fact that Clutterbuck kills penalties and has more offensive instincts than Martin, Cal should do even better than that. Will the Isles push to make sure they keep one of their biggest motor guys, even if the price tag is more than they care to shell out? If they do, it's probably a clear indication that ownership is happy with the current direction, and is willing to invest all they can to provide the Isles a nice, gaping window of contention.
If you look at Freidman's list further, it's mostly peppered with guys who will move on after their current deal is done, with the exception of Tavares. The Isles do have most of their core players under team control for a while, and with Josh Ho-Sang making noise down in Bridgeport, and Matt Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier already getting their looks on the main roster, I tend to lean toward the future being very bright for this club.