Tanner Fritz will be back in the New York Islanders organization next season, after agreeing to terms on a two-year contract. The deal will keep Fritz from reaching unrestricted free agency this summer and pay him an average of $700K at the NHL level. The team has agreed to terms with draft pick Arnaud Durandeau on a three-year entry-level contract, who would have seen his exclusive rights expire tomorrow.
Fritz, 27, has never known an NHL organization other than the Islanders, who gave him his first professional chance after playing four years at Ohio State University. Turning a tryout into a minor league deal and then eventually an NHL contract in 2017, Fritz has seen every level including nearly an entire year in the ECHL. In the minor leagues he has been an excellent offensive player including a 37-point season this year, but hasn’t quite been able to carry that over to the NHL. In 42 games with the Islanders he has just eight points.
Still, he will provide extremely inexpensive depth for the team as they try to get back to the playoffs next season. In fact, his deal is actually a two-way contract in the second season, an interesting structure for a player trying to find an opportunity. Fritz was obviously happy to get some stability before heading to free agency, and will now have a chance to stay with the Islanders for another two years.
Durandeau, 20, was a sixth-round pick of the Islanders in 2017 and spent this season back with the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. The left winger was a huge part of the team’s Memorial Cup run, which was ultimately unsuccessful despite their best efforts. Better than a point-per-game player in his final year of junior, Durandeau will now need to make the adjustment to the professional ranks where his hard-nosed forechecking skills should come in handy.