For some Islanders players, there is still something to play for with three games left in a disappointing season.
One of those players is RW Tanner Fritz, who is trying to showcase his skills to be a mainstay with the Islanders next season. Recently, he is doing a good job of that by collecting two points in the past three games, with one being a goal against the Devils this past Saturday.
"I want to try to get them thinking over the summer that I can be a player that can play in the NHL and prove to them that I'm worthy to play in this league," Fritz told Newsday's Andrew Gross.
Head coach Doug Weight has stressed the importance of making a good, final impresson at the end of the season to players like Fritz who are on the bubble heading into the 2018-19 campaign. Fritz does have a contract with the team, but would rather begin in the NHL instead of with Bridgeport next season.
Making his NHL debut this season, Fritz admitted that nerves and getting used to NHL play slowed him down a bit. However, he believes he has settled in, and can definitely make an impact for the team next season no matter the minutes he sees on the ice.
"I think I've had some opportunities to go up and down the lineup," he said. "My first 10 games, I was a little slow, a little hesitant, just kind of nervous. I feel like the last 15 games, I kind of have proven I can play up and down. I don't think I'm going to be a guy that plays top minutes."
Fritz, though, was part of the Isles' top line against the Devils with captain John Tavares and Anders Lee. After logging 17:10 of ice time and a goal to show for it, Fritz knows his role with the team, and believes he can be a valuable asset for the team in the future.
"I'm more of a guy to try and get the puck and get the puck to the skill guys and let them do the work," he said.
In 32 games this season, Fritz has tallied three goals and four assists.
Andrew Battifarano, SNY: Fritz is definitely one of those guys with plenty to prove over the last few games, so good on him for realizing this could be a tryout for next season.
The 26-year-old forward isn't going to wow you with a ton of skill, though he definitely has a nice shot when he's got it clicking.
To be in the lineup on a consistent basis next year, Fritz needs to keep up the positive possession numbers he's showed down the stretch, while also being able to handle the workload of being on the penalty kill.
This was a guy that played well in Bridgeport, and while I think he'd be hard-pressed to replicate those stats in the NHL over a full season, he definitely can be a nice depth piece for the team in a bottom-six role.