2023 NHL Free Agency, Brian Pinho, Free Agents, Islanders Transactions, Julien Gauthier, Karson Kuhlman, News

Islanders Sign Forwards Gauthier, Kuhlman and Pinho

The New York Islanders announced a trio of forward signings including Julien Gauthier on a two-year deal worth $787,500 per season, as well Karson Kuhlman and Brian Pinho on two-way deals for one year at $775,000. The three of these players add depth to the Islanders’ system.

Gauthier, who was not qualified by the Ottawa Senators after being acquired at the trade deadline, can be an impactful player at the bottom of the lineup. The former 2016 first-round pick never managed to translate his play to the NHL, but with his size and skating, he can certainly help out the Islanders’ fourth line. Those two attributes combined allow him to draw a healthy number of penalties given his low ice time.

Julien Gauthier Ottawa Senators
Julien Gauthier, Ottawa Senators (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

While only managing to register a career high of 14 points in 57 games this season, there is still some upside for the 25-year-old offensively. Gauthier finds a lot of open lanes and with his skating, generates a lot of breakaways. His finishing isn’t great, but he is definitely worth taking a flier on, and if he can stay in the lineup, may be able to crack the 10-goal, 20-point threshold.

Depth Options Help Islanders

Kuhlman spent last season with the Winnipeg Jets and Seattle Kraken, playing 47 games. He was a healthy scratch for a lot of games, but was trusted with fourth-line, shut-down duties when he was in the lineup. He isn’t a point producer, and only has 30 points in 147 career games, but in a defensive-minded system like the Islanders have, Kuhlman may fit in very well. He proved to be a useful waiver claim to the Jets.

Related: THW’s Free Agency Tracker

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Pinho only has four NHL games under his belt with two of them being in the playoffs. He is a decent American Hockey League (AHL) player who has registered 57 points in 90 AHL games in the past three seasons with 28 of those coming this past season with the Utica Comets. He likely isn’t going to be one of the top call-ups for the Islanders this season, but every team deals with injuries over the course of a season. If Pinho can stay healthy and in the lineup for the majority of the season, he could be given a shot if his game continues to grow, but at 28 years old it is unlikely.

Karson Kuhlman Winnipeg Jets
Karson Kuhlman, Winnipeg Jets (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Depth is always important. This trio of signings gives the Islanders three different types of players. One who is expected to be an NHL roster regular, one who can bounce up and down and one who will play most of the year in the AHL. At such a low price, these are all players worth taking a chance on, and won’t be a risk at all. The Islanders are a team where under-the-radar players seem to play well, and it could be a great spot for all three of them to find some consistency regardless of what league they play in. The team is looking to get into the playoffs again after missing in 2023, and will be willing to give anybody a chance if they have earned it.

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