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Bargain Deal for Rodrigues, Lou’s Belief in Islanders Clear As Day

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New York Islanders, Evan Rodrigues

On Monday, free agent forward Evan Rodrigues signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Colorado Avalanche, a player that had been on the market longer than expected. With the Avalanche losing Nazem Kadri to free agency, ultimately signing a long-term deal with the Calgary Flames, the Avalanche got a talented player at a relatively low cost to fill the void.

There were many teams that Evan Rodrigues could have helped after his breakout season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, one being the New York Islanders.

Although the New York Islanders offense finished 23rd worst in the NHL in 2021-22 (2.79 goals per game), there have been no additions made on the offensive side of the puck, despite their being opportunities.

General manager Lou Lamoriello and his team believe in the group they have. That has been the case since the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline came and went with no moves, buying or selling, followed by a quiet offseason.

Given who the Islanders have missed out on, not signed, Lamoriello has backed up his previous statements.

This offseason, one could say that the New York Islanders missed out on Jonny Gaudreau, who signed a seven-year, $68.25 million deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets. It sounded like they never had the financial means to reach the asking price, with cap space a major issue.

The New York Islanders were actively interested in bringing in Nazem Kadri, but a failure to clear cap space, an unwillingness to part ways with assets to create space, saw the Stanley Cup winner sign a seven-year, $49 million with the Calgary Flames.

If you remember, the New York Islanders also had talks with the Vancouver Canucks at the 2022 NHL Draft for J.T. Miller. An official deal could not be agreed upon, and the Islanders went and traded the 13th overall pick to the Montreal Canadiens for defenseman Alexander Romanov.

It was not until recently that Miller agreed to a seven-year extension with the Canucks worth $56 million.

Although the offseason and past offseasons were all about landing a big fish, the New York Islanders, financially, had the ability this offseason to add NHL forward depth, something that the Islanders do not have.

Yes, there are prospects like Aatu Räty, William Dufour, Simon Holmstrom, and Otto Koivula who could fill in if need be, but only Koivula has NHL minutes under his belt.

On Aug. 25, Phil Kessel signed a one-year, $1.25 million deal with the Vegas Golden Knights.

The 34-year-old winger was coming off a rather challenging season in Arizona, as he scored just eight goals in 82 games for the Coyotes. But Kessel, despite a lousy year goal-wise (44 assists), has a lethal shot, and the New York Islanders need players that can finish chances.

Phil Kessel, at that cap hit, for one season, is a stellar move by Vegas.

36-year-old centerman Paul Statsny signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Carolina Hurricanes on Aug. 23 after a strong season in Winnipeg. In 71 games played for the Jets, Statsny notched 21 goals with 24 assists (45 points).

Although the Islanders have four centermen and the concern with a Kadri acquisition meant positional realignment, Statsny is just a reliable centerman who does what needs to be done and is a player who is hungry for a Stanley Cup ring after 16 years in the NHL.

There were options besides the big fish.

Does that mean these cheaper options were interested in coming to the New York Islanders? Or that the Islanders had any interest in them?

Who knows, but financially speaking (reading), these players were affordable and had the skills to help.

One player who still remains unsigned is Long Island native Sonny Milano, who is on Long Island right now. During my interview on Hockey Night in New York, I shared that I would not be shocked if camp opened and Milano was on the ice at Northwell Ice Center, on a PTO or under contract.

But we shall see.

The New York Islanders currently have $2.36 million in available salary cap space, with all their roster spots filled (23 of 23). That does include Richard Panik ($1.375 million cap hit), who was buried in the minors last season ($375 K hit).

If the Islanders did want to bring someone in, the only likely scenario would be to place defenseman Sebastian Aho on waivers and risk losing him.

With development camp beginning Thursday, followed by training camp on Sept. 21, additions seem slim to none at this point. Now it will be up to the New York Islanders players to shut down the narrative about their offense and prove to the fans and their general manager that he made the right decision in running it back with this group.

Welcome to your new home for New York Islanders breaking news, analysis and opinion. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and don't forget to subscribe to NYHN+ for all of our members-only content from Christian Arnold and the National Hockey Now network.
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