Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
Brian Erni and I have begun our annual season review, taking a look back at the 2016-17 New York Islanders and analyzing each player's performance in a down season that saw the team miss the playoffs by one point.
We will be offering two reviews per week that will take us right through to the beginning of training camp in September 2017. Of course, there are a couple of things to sort out prior, such as potential trades that could alter the look of this franchise going forward and oh, yeah, that pesky John Tavares extension.
Contract details via nhlnumbers.com and stats courtesy of hockeyreference.com.
53- Casey Cizikas - Forward
5-foot-11, 201 pounds
26 years old
Contract: $3.350m cap hit through 2020-21, unrestricted free agent
Season: 59 GP, 8 G - 17 A - 25 Pts, 30 PIM, 82 Shots, 13:54 TOI, 47.5 Corsi
Career: 349 GP, 37 G - 70 A - 107 Pts, 135 PIM, 392 Shots, 12:41 TOI, 47.6 Corsi
Cizikas finished 2016-17 a goal and four points off career highs, set in 2014-15 and 2015-16, respectively. Even though his average ice time increased over a minute to just shy of 14 per game, Casey missed 23 games with three separate extended stints on the club's IR list, once with an upper body injury, once a broken hand and, lastly, a broken finger.
With the ink just dry on his contract extension signed last year, it was initially thought Cizikas initially was overpaid for his role, which some in the organization see as "Frans light." But Nick Bonino then went and signed in Nashville for an average AAV of $4.1 million and suddenly, the Cizikas extension doesn't look 'as' bad.
This year, Cizikas will once again be asked to fill that void between the third and fourth lines as the primary pivot, defensive specialist, penalty killer and faceoff man. Any offense he can give the team is an added bonus, but at this point, his 29-35-64 season for Mississauga in 2010-11 seems more an aberration.
That doesn't mean Cizikas isn't valuable to the Islanders, because, at the end of the day, while Anthony Beauvillier continues to grow into his role, he is very much a needed component on a team that some say still lacks some "grit." Cizikas placed second in even strength hits per game at 2.44, trailing only Cal Clutterbuck's 3.36.
IPB Grade: C+: When Cizikas did play, he was productive, on pace to surpass career highs in goals and points while providing a physical element, a gap that had to be filled with Matt Martin moving onto Toronto. However, the injuries took their toll, lowering what would have been a much higher grade with 82 games played.