The New York Islanders have three key players eligible for unrestricted free agency after this season. And according to Arthur Staple of Long Island's Newsday, the team is going to work on new contracts for defensemen Mark Streit and Lubomir Visnovsky and goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.
Staple writes that talks have already begun with Streit, the team's captain, and could begin soon for Visnovsky and Nabokov.
As of Sunday moring, the Islanders are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, two points behind Carolina for what would be the eighth and final playoff spot. They are one point ahead of the rival New York Rangers. The Rangers and Hurricanes both have a game in hand on the Islanders.
If New York were to fall out of the playoff race before the trading deadline and no new contracts are agreed to, all three players would seem to be logical trade candidates given their ages and the fact they're eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer.
Streit, 35, joined the Islanders as a free agent before the 2008-09 season and has been one of the more productive defensemen in the league ever since, never tallying fewer than 47 points in a season as a member of the Islanders. He has 15 points in 28 games this year.
The Islanders acquired Visnovsky from the Anaheim Ducks on draft day and weren't quite sure if he was going to report to the team this season, but eventually did, and seems open to the idea of returning for another season. He has seven points in 16 games. He had a down year with the Ducks last season but in 2010-11 led all defensemen in the NHL in scoring.
Nabokov has been with the Islanders the past two years.
Originally a member of the San Jose Sharks, he signed a long-term contract in the KHL before the 2010-11 season. Not long after, he left the Russian league and attempted to return to the NHL as a member of the Detroit Red Wings, who had signed him to a one-year contract. But because he started that season overseas, he had to pass through waivers before he could join the team. The Islanders, who were desperate for an NHL goaltender at the time, claimed him on waivers. Nabokov finally reported to the Islanders during the 2011-12 season and has been their starter ever since.
"I'm enjoying it. I want to continue to play," Nabokov told Staple. "And I feel the same as last year -- I like the guys here. I like the direction of the team. When the time will come, we will definitely talk."