The Islanders announced that they’ve tendered qualifying offers to eight players today. Matt Martin’s been gone from here awhile, so the seven that matter include three who were here at the end of last year: Sean Backman, Ty Wishart and Tomas Marcinko. The other four are Mikko Koskinen, who finished last year in Finland; and Justin DiBenedetto, Mark Katic and Rhett Rakhshani, who’ve signed to play in Europe. That at least retains the right of first refusal to all of them.
By process of elimination, that means Tyler McNeely and Tony Romano were not given qualifying offers and will be unrestricted free agents if nothing happens by Sunday. Also non-tendered: Yannick Riendeau and Yury Alexandrov, neither of whom played here (and only one of whom was even here briefly).
Edit: To answer at least one question about what the deal is here: This is another piece of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that pops up every so often. To try to shorten it as much as possible: Most players under 27, especially the guys who’re spending time in the AHL, when their contract is up, are restricted free agents (Group 2, as they’re called in the CBA). There are exceptions, but today is about the Group 2 guys, so that’s who we’ll worry about. If a player is a Group 2 free agent, he is free to accept an offer from another team on July 1, but his original team has the right to match that offer, or to receive compensation if it doesn’t match. (This doesn’t happen often, particularly for AHL guys.)
However, to earn that right-to-match, the original team has to give the player a “qualifying offer,” a bona fide NHL contract offer. The offer has to measure up to certain conditions that are spelled out in the CBA (often a raise in NHL salary for the guys down here). If the team doesn’t make that qualifying offer, the player becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, free to any team.
(Why not make the offer? The team may just want to cut ties. The team may still like the player but wonder how he’ll fit into the plans; if the player accepts the offer, he’s one of the 50 contracts a team is allowed, and for some teams, those are precious spots. The team may still like the player, may want him back, but may not want him at the values required by the CBA, and may continue to negotiate with him for a lower contract.)