All eyes in New York Islanders country are on Mathew Barzal.
The team’s star forward is now the Islanders lone unsigned restricted free agent after Ryan Pulock inked a two-year contract extension on Wednesday. The new deal for Pulock, who was scheduled to have an arbitration hearing on Friday, limits the Islanders to just $3.9 million in cap space at the current moment.
Nothing has changed with where Barzal’s new contract might come in at numbers-wise. The 23-year-old can expect a new deal worth somewhere around $7 million per year for a two, or three-year period, which would allow him to become an unrestricted free agent when things have stabilized financially across the NHL.
Under his new contract, Pulock finds himself in a similar spot. Though the talented defenseman said that didn’t come into mind when working out his new contract.
“I don’t know if that was the thought,” Pulock said during a Zoom call on Wednesday. “I think the big thing for us was just trying to make something work that was good for both (sides) in terms of the flat cap. … Then down the road here in the future, we can hopefully work on something else.”
The Islanders have to hope Mathew Barzal has had a similar thought process as Pulock.
The road to clearing cap space for Barzal remains arduous for Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello. The well has appeared to dry up in terms of potential trade partners that would take some of the Islanders more expensive contracts.
After Devon Toews was traded to Colorado last month, it was reported that a deal that would send Johnny Boychuk and his $6 million cap hit elsewhere. A deal never materialized and things have remained quiet around Isles country.
Leo Komarov, Andrew Ladd and even Semyon Varlamov were also rumored to be potentially delt to free up some cap space.
The Islanders have other avenues to make more room under the salary cap. LTIR remains an option, albeit a complicated one.
And when it comes to any news leaking from either camp, fuhgeddaboudit. Even fellow RFA Ryan Pulock couldn’t provide any insight into what Mathew Barzal is thinking at the moment.
The two did talk during the RFA process.
“Obviously we’re good friends and we talk,” Pulock said. “We both obviously want to make it work so that we can keep everyone together and I think that’s the main goal. We want to win together, we want to keep this team together. I think we’ve talked a little bit, but his business side of it is his doing.”