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With Lambert Hired, What’s Next on the To-Do List?

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Anthony BeauvillierNew York Islanders

When the 2021-22 season came to a close, the New York Islanders’ first order of business was evaluating their team, seeing where the needs were, and going forward from there. With the firing of head coach Barry Trotz back on May 9, finding a new head coach became the first thing on Lou Lamoriello’s to-do list.

But on Monday, Lamoriello was able to (officially) check off that box with the internal promotion of associate coach Lane Lambert.

The next order of business is evaluating the rest of the coaching staff, a staff that came over with Barry Trotz, which included Lambert.

Both assistant coaches John Gruden and Jim Hiller, along with goaltending coach Piero Greco are all under contract for another season. Director of Goaltending Mitch Korn appears to be retiring from the sport, but no confirmation has been made on that as of yet per Andrew Gross of Newsday.

“As I mentioned, that everyone was under contract, including Lane,” Lamoriello said during Monday’s press conference. “But Lane and I will sit down and go over what his thoughts are, and actually, you know what my thoughts are, as far as the job descriptions of what the assistant role is in certain areas, and all those decisions are to come forward.”

“But right now, you know, our coaching assistant coaches are, as I said, under contract, but we haven’t spent the time necessary in different areas, you know, that we will be doing in the short future.”

After deciding on what to do with the coaching staff (would assume they all stay), Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello and newly appointed head coach Lane Lambert will look at the team and, over the next few months, will decide which players are part of the future and which are not.

Let’s now go through the offseason schedule:

Buyout Window-June 15th (No Later Than 48 Hours After Final Stanley Cup Game)

Although not confirmed as of yet, prior to the start of free agency, teams have the option to buy out undesirable contracts. The Islanders have not bought out a contract since the remaining eight years of netminder Rick DiPietro’s 16-year contract was bought out back in the summer of 2013.

Looking at their contracts, there are not any contracts where buying out players makes any sort of sense.

When you buy out a contract, you double the life of the contract while cutting the average annual value depending on the age of the player.

The Islanders have two players who are considered “buried contracts” in Richard Panik (1-year left, $250k) and Thomas Hickey, who is a UFA, so the Islanders do not have anything to worry about in that regard.

NHL Draft Round 1- July 7th

The NHL Draft Lottery came and went, and the New York Islanders did not move from their place as they will select 13th overall in Montreal. That is, if they decide to keep their first-round selection. The Islanders have needs, and are given their window to win, which is open for another two to three years, parting with the pick seems like the logical choice.

The pick will likely be included in a package deal with a player, potentially Anthony Beauvillier, and others to bring in a top-four defenseman or a top-six forward. Or, at the very least, be used as a sweetener to move a contract like Josh Bailey, who is owed $5 million annually over the next two seasons.

I spoke about those decisions on WGBB Sports Talk New York Monday night (45:48/11:48 remaining):

NHL Draft Rounds 2-7 July 8th

The Islanders, due to the infamous Devon Toews trade, have two second-round selections. Yet because of the deal that Lamoriello made with the Arizona Coyotes for Andrew Ladd, the Coyotes get the better of the two picks. The better of the picks will be no 45. The other is 63.

The Islanders then have a third-round selection (77th), a fifth-round selection (141st), and a sixth-round selection (173rd).

New York Islanders Development Camp-TBA

No date has been shared as to when the Islanders will be hosting their development came, but it is likely to come right after the draft.

The Islanders, who do not have a deep prospect pool, do have some exciting names to keep an eye on, like Aatu Räty (52nd overall, 2021), who just finished up the postseason with the Bridgeport Islanders, and William Dufour (152nd overall, 2020), who just finished a historic season with the St. John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL.

Add names like Blade Jenkins, Simon Holmstrom, and Robin Salo (played 21 games in NHL this season) to the must-watch list.

RFA Qualifying Offer Deadline- July 9 (Day After Draft)

The Islanders have a handful of restricted free agents to deal with, most notably 21-year-old defenseman Noah Dobson, who had a monstrous third season in the NHL. The other two are a pair of 23-year-olds in forward Kieffer Bellows and defenseman Robin Salo.

Here are a list of the remaining RFA’s: Arnaud Durandeau, Michael Dal Colle, Otto Koivula

If a team does not hand out qualifying offers to their RFA’s, then they will become unrestricted free agents when free agency opens up on July 13th.

Free Agency- July 13 at Noon

Free Agent Frenzy begins less than a week after the draft. The New York Islanders, by all accounts, plan to make a splash this offseason or at least try to land a big fish. The Islanders have three unrestricted free agents in defensemen Zdeno Chara, Andy Greene, and Sebastian Aho, along with forward Austin Czarnik.

By all accounts, Zdeno Chara is likely to retire after a Hall of Fame NHL career, and Andy Greene said in his exit interviews that it was either return to the Islanders or retire. Sebastian Aho, 26-years-old, took strides and could be back to serve as the seventh defenseman, which seems to be his ceiling at the NHL level.

Austin Czarnik has been a strong depth player and was a pivotal piece in the Bridgeport Islanders strong end to their regular season as well as their first-round upset over the Providence Bruins.

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