Once the 2022-23 season ends, the New York Islanders have a handful of pending unrestricted free agents to deal with. With goaltender Semyon Varlamov and defenseman Scott Mayfield surviving the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline, along with Zach Parise, who wasn’t going anywhere, one would think that general manager Lou Lamoriello has a few contract extensions in place or a few in the works.
If not, well…that would be a bit of an issue, given the need for assets. But we digress.
In his interview with MSG host Shannon Hogan on Saturday, Lamoriello said the following about his UFAs:
“It’s obvious that they are important parts to our team and our organization by them being here, when they were unrestricted free agents.”
There is another unrestricted free agent whose name hasn’t been discussed often, and that’s Hudson Fasching.
The 27-year-old is having his best NHL season after a roller coaster ride to Long Island, which NYI Hockey Now spoke to him about a few months ago.
READ MORE: Fasching’s Roller Coaster Ride to Long Island, Key Piece in Playoff Puzzle?
After bouncing around between the Buffalo Sabres and Arizona Coyotes, playing 280 AHL games over six years and just 38 NHL games, Fasching put pen to paper on a one-year, two-way contract on Aug. 23, with a salary cap hit of $750,000 (league minimum).
In 32 games with New York, the most games he has ever played in an NHL season by 21, Fasching has been a bright spot with three goals and five assists. What he’s done so well is used his six-foot-three, 204-pound frame to win puck battles in all three zones, protect the puck and make heads-up high IQ players in critical moments.
He has just four turnovers and has quickly earned the trust of his head coach.
Following Saturday’s 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings, Islanders head coach Lane Lambert was asked about what makes Fasching so effective.
“He uses his body, and he can skate. And when I say use his body, he protects the puck. He finds a way to get leverage, and what you do with that and what he does with that is it turns into strength and strength on the puck, so there’s no question that he’s playing well, and he needs to continue doing that,” Lambert said.
The Islanders have a handful of players on the roster who do the “little things” to help this hockey club. His two linemates, Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas, have been doing that for years.
Cal Clutterbuck has been in and out of the lineup this season, out indefinitely since a game up in Buffalo on Jan. 19, Fasching has often filled that spot.
With Clutterbuck’s future up in the air, one could say that a handful of players have tried out for a future role on the fourth line.
You have Fasching, Ross Johnston, Simon Holmstrom, Arnaud Durandeau, and even William Dufour inching to play every day at the NHL level.
You can throw Pierre Engvall’s name into the mix but not sure if he would re-sign to be a fourth-line forward.
But out of all the options, and some included should be playing higher in the lineup, Fasching is the best fit alongside Martin and Cizikas, two players who will be on the roster next season.
NYI Hockey Now asked Fasching, following practice on Friday, if he would be more than willing to sign a contract extension with the New York Islanders.
“100 percent,” Fasching said. “I mean, this organization has been incredibly good to me. It’s been a great year for me. They’ve given me a really big opportunity, and I’ve really enjoyed myself here. The people are great. The organization is great. My wife and I are very happy here.
“So yeah, definitely be happy signing an extension.”
Now, while Fasching wants to extend, the feeling needs to be mutual.
With Bo Horvat’s new extension, which carries an $8.5 million average annual value, the Islanders only have $6.8 million in projected cap space following the conclusion of the 2022-23 season.
Fasching’s been everything and more that the Islanders could have hoped for. A veteran AHL signing to help bolster and lead the young Bridgeport Islanders turned into one of New York’s best depth signings in quite some time.
If the New York Islanders did want Hudson Fasching back to play a bottom-six role in 2023-24, a three-year extension worth $3 million ($1 million AAV) seems like a fair deal for both parties, if not a bit cheaper.