The New York Islanders made a trio of depth forward additions today, signing Julien Gauthier, Karson Kuhlman, and Brian Pinho in free agency. Per the team, Gauthier received a two-year deal, while Kuhlman and Pinho received one-year, two-way contracts.
CapFriendly confirms Gauthier’s contract carries an average annual value of $787.5K, paid out as $775K in 2023-24 and $800K in 2024-25. Ethan Sears of the New York Post adds Kuhlman and Pinho’s deals both carry cap hits of $775K, with Kuhlman’s deal earning him $300K in the minors and a $350K guaranteed salary.
Gauthier is an interesting addition, especially on a one-way deal. The former first-round pick hasn’t lived up to expectations and is now on his fourth NHL organization, although he did score a career-high nine goals and 14 points in 57 games last season, split between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.
The 25-year-old does have good size at 6-foot-4 and 227 pounds, but it’ll be tough to land an everyday spot in the Islanders’ lineup. He’ll most likely compete for a third-line role with Hudson Fasching, a career AHLer who broke out for 10 goals and 19 points in 49 games with the Islanders and earned the trust of the team’s coaching staff. With the team unlikely to break up their longstanding fourth line of Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas, and Matt Martin until one of them retires, bottom-six roles will be scarce.
Kuhlman joins the Islanders after spending the last two seasons entirely in the NHL and being claimed on waivers twice, once by the Seattle Kraken in 2021-22 and the Winnipeg Jets in 2022-23. In his five-season, 147-game NHL career, the 27-year-old American has 12 goals and 30 points. The two-way deal suggests he could be heading back to the minors for his first extended stint there since 2018-19, where he put up 12 goals and 30 points in 58 games with the Providence Bruins.
Pinho comes over as a veteran AHLer, amassing 225 games in the minors over five seasons spent with the Washington Capitals and New Jersey Devils organizations. With only two NHL regular-season games to his name, both coming in the 2020-21 season, Pinho is likely destined for a middle-six role with the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.