Heading into the offseason, re-signing Andy Greene would have been considered more of a bonus than a necessity for the New York Islanders. While he was a good fit, the Islanders already had seven other defenders on their roster, including Noah Dobson, who will likely see an increased role next year.
When Devon Toews was dealt, however, it meant Nick Leddy was a good bet to slide up to the second pairing, leaving room on the bottom pairing. That said, the Islanders still had six defenders without Greene, meaning it still wasn’t absolutely necessary for him to return, if Johnny Boychuk wasn’t traded.
Now with Boychuk not returning though, re-signing Greene has become much more important. Right now, there’s a spot open on the bottom pairing and if Greene doesn’t return, we could be looking at Thomas Hickey jumping back up to the NHL. While Hickey could fill in if needed, I think it’s clear that Greene is the better option. Especially with Boychuk gone, the Islanders need a reliable defender on the bottom pairing to play with Dobson, and a Hickey - Dobson pairing probably wouldn’t be the best idea.
Looking at the rest of the free agent market now, there aren’t a ton of players who the Islanders could go after to play on the bottom pairing either. Ron Hainsey, Ben Hutton or potentially even Zdeno Chara could be available but we know that Greene is a fit with the team and another free agent would be a gamble. The Islanders also don’t have anyone in the system (other than Hickey) who could jump right into an NHL role. Sebastian Aho could still work out but the Islanders certainly aren’t going to run with an Aho - Dobson pairing either.
The Islanders can’t afford to lose three of their top seven defenders with no replacements for them, so while re-signing Greene wasn’t a necessity before, it is now.
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Here’s today’s poll question (results and discussion will be posted in a future article):
Would you be happy with Andy Greene/Noah Dobson as the team's third pairing?