Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
Brian Erni and I begin our annual season review, taking a look back at the 2016-17 Islanders and analyzing each player's performance in a 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 the beginning of training camp in September. Of course, there are a couple of things to sort out prior, such as free agency and potential trades that could alter the look of this franchise going forward.
First things first, however, as we start the day with the defense. Contract details via nhlnumbers.com and stats courtesy of hockeyreference.com.
14- Thomas Hickey - Defense
6-0, 189 lbs
28 years old
Contract: $2.200m cap hit through 2017-18, unrestricted free agent
Season: 76 GP, 4 G - 16 A - 20 Pts, 35 PIM, 87 Shots, 17:31 TOI, 47.8 Corsi
Career: 340 GP, 17 G - 69 A - 86 Pts, 133 PIM, 360 Shots, 18:05 TOI, 50.5 Corsi
Hickey was claimed by GM Garth Snow in January 2013 after being selected by the Kings 4th overall in the 2007 amateur draft. After suffering many injuries early in his career, which prevented him from being able to crack the Kings lineup, he has turned out to be a very dependable, hardworking 5th-6th defenseman for the Islanders.
Dubbed 'Mr. Clutch' by his teammates, he has found a knack for scoring huge goals at opportune times, especially in overtime. His first NHL goal was an overtime winner in Montreal and he also clinched the playoffs in 2016 in Washington. And who can forget his winner in the first round series that same year against Florida in Brooklyn off a feed from Brock Nelson.
But it's been his tenacity and toughness that has impressed many fans and media, as the graciously-listed six-foot tall blueliner has absorbed the most hits of any player on the roster over the last four years. Even though he is clearly targeted by the opposition, he has managed to play 92 percent of all eligible games over that time span (301/328).
With his offensive numbers right around his career average this year, Hickey once again missed only six games --playing over 17 minutes on average -- and blocked over 100 shots for the third time in the last four years (103).
With one year and very manageable money remaining on his contract with unrestricted free agency to follow, it surprised many that he was not taken in the expansion draft by the Vegas Golden Knights, who instead made a side deal with Snow to take J.F Berube.
If Hickey survives the trade market, he will certainly be anchoring the bottom pair come training camp in September. If the Islanders were to falter in 2017-18, he could be moved at the trade deadline for a late-round draft pick, given his upcoming status.
IPB Grade: B- : The entire Islanders defense suffered collectively this season due to mental breakdowns but Hickey was one of the most consistent bottom pair guys in the Metropolitan division. He doesn't cost much and gives maximum effort.