The New York Islanders made qualifying offers to six players on Wednesday including forwards Sean Bergenheim, Jeremy Colliton, Frans Nielsen, Jeff Tambellini and Ben Walter and defenseman Bruno Gervais. The six will become restricted free agents if they cannot agree on a deal with the Islanders by the opening of free agency on July 1.
Bergenheim and Gervais spent the entire season on Long Island while Colliton, Tambellini, Nielsen and Walter split time between the Islanders and their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. Players who receive qualifying offers have to clear waivers before being sent down to the minors and would have to clear waivers again before being recalled to the parent club. Bergenheim is the only player receiving a qualifying offer who is arbitration eligible.
Aaron Johnson, Drew Fata, Matthew Spiller and Steve Regier were not given qualifying offers and will become unrestricted free agents on July 1. The Islanders still may re-sign these players especially if they agree to two-way contracts that would pay them less for minor league play than they would receive for sticking with the parent club.
Look for the Isles to be active in free agency next month. It is more likely that they will pursue second tier free agents rather than superstars like Marian Hossa or Mats Sundin. The Islanders’ biggest needs include at least two scoring forwards and a quarterback for the power play.