If anyone had been hoping the news of Johnny Boychuk’s career coming to an end would mean a new contract for Mathew Barzal shortly after, they have been sorely disappointed.
Nearly two weeks removed from the day the New York Islanders announced that Boychuk’s NHL career had come to an end — and subsequently, they would be getting a reprieve from his $6 million cap hit — there has been no movement on a new deal for Barzal. The Islanders’ star forward is a restricted free agent and due a pay raise after three successful years on Long Island.
The additional $6 million for the cap crunched Isles will either come in the form of Boychuk retiring or the team putting him on LTIR. Should the Islanders place Boychuk on LTIR, then they would be allowed to utilize the $6 million cap hit regardless if it took them above the salary cap.
When Boychuk spoke to reporters the day before Thanksgiving he was not sure if he was officially retiring or being placed on LTIR.
The expectation from NYI Hockey Now, along with other media outlets, is that Barzal will receive a new deal in the $7 million per year range when all is said and done. The Islanders are also likely to sign free agent goaltender Corey Schneider and re-sign Matt Martin and Andy Greene.
Even though the Islanders have managed to clear some more cap space with Boychuk stepping aside a few weeks back, they will still be under a bit of a crunch. There is a thought that the Islanders would also place Andrew Ladd on LTIR as well at some point.
Ladd has three years left on his contract and comes with a $5.5 million cap hit. Isles general manager Lou Lamoriello tried to trade Ladd at the trade deadline last season, but the financial makeup of the deal became too complicated between the Islanders and Minnesota Wild.
What has become clearer as the days and weeks have gone by is that a deal between the Islanders and Barzal isn’t likely coming until the NHL and NHL Players Association come to an agreement and set a start date for the 2020-21 season. As NYI Hockey Now has reported that process has become a bit more tenuous, but there may have been some strides in the right direction recently.
For now, it appears, the waiting will continue to see when and what the Islanders and Barzal’s camp can work out for a new contract.