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Free Agency

Islanders, Lamoriello have creative decisions to make during free agency

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The New York Islanders logo at Nassau Coliseum

As the free agency period looms, it’s no secret the New York Islanders don’t have a lot of wiggle room in terms of salary cap space.

So what is New York’s plan when the market opens at the end of this week?

“I think whatever we have to get done, hopefully we will,” Lou Lamoriello said Wednesday. “And we’ll just take it a day at a time.”

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The general manager’s non-answer isn’t surprising, given Lamoriello’s history of keeping things close to the vest. With the flat cap heading into the 2020-21 season, there’s not a ton of — if any — splashy offseason moves the Islanders can make.

The biggest items on the agenda will be internal housekeeping with the restricted free agents on the roster. Top priorities will be Mathew Barzal, Ryan Pulock and Devon Toews, all of which could conceivably receive offer sheets from other organizations. According to PuckPedia, the Islanders have just north of $9 million in space to make moves. And the team reportedly would like to keep unrestricted free agents Derick Brassard, Matt Martin and Andy Greene. Thomas Greiss is almost certainly ticketed for another team.

That could mean looking for creative ways to shed money and contracts, like Andrew Ladd or Johnny Boychuk. That would likely mean losing more Draft picks, which the Islanders were obviously short on this year after the Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade. At this point, dealing a player like Josh Bailey ($5 million cap hit) or Nick Leddy ($5.5 million cap hit) doesn’t seem out of the question.

But when posed the question about making any moves to open up salary space, Lamoriello again was reticent to discuss what New York could do to maintain or upgrade its roster.

“We’ll just have to wait and see exactly what we do,” Lamoriello added.

Given other teams are looking to move contracts, like the Tampa Bay Lightning with Steven Stamkos, that makes things all the more tougher for the Islanders to shop someone like Ladd, who does not become a UFA until 2023-24.

Islanders Add Depth Upfront During 2020 NHL Draft

There’s also the option to attempt to put Ladd on long term injured reserve, but that might be a difficult situation given the winger did suit up at the end of the Islanders’ postseason run. The LTIR was something Lamoriello exploited while running the Maple Leafs, so using this is obviously not something out of the realm of possibilities.

Infusing some offense feels like it would be the final piece of the puzzle to get the Islanders over the hump, but at this point, the New York Islanders are going to have their hands full enough to retain their top-end talent.

What happens Friday might be telling on what Lamoriello and the team plan to do going forward with the future look of this team.

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Free Agency

What Will Mat Barzal’s Next Contract Look Like? | NYHN+

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Mat Barzal of the New York Islanders

It is the question that is on every New York Islanders fans’ mind. When will Mat Barzal be re-signed by the Islanders and what will that contract look like?

The 23-year-old Islanders star is due for a pay raise and the team is under a major cap crunch at the moment with just $8.9 million left for next season to work with to re-sign Barzal, fellow restricted free agent Ryan Pulock and possibly some unrestricted free agents. The NHL’s flat salary cap for the foreseeable future also throws a rather unique twist into the already complicated Barzal equation.

Right now the Islanders priority is clearing cap space so that they can work out a deal with Barzal. As has been reported here and various other outlets, Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Andrew Ladd and Leo Komarov are all contracts that could be moved to free up space.

The Case for the New York Islanders to Sign Anthony Duclair

All of those carry a sizable cap hit and general manager Lou Lamoriello needs to clear at least one or two of those to have some wiggle room to work. That is what has held up the rest of the Islanders offseason plans, including re-signing their most valuable piece.

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Free Agency

The Case for the New York Islanders to Sign Anthony Duclair

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Anthony Duclair

The New York Islanders don’t have a lot of cap space and for them to make any significant free agent signings they would need to move some of their more expensive contracts to other teams. That being said once the Islanders do clear some cap space and re-sign restricted free agents Mathew Barzal and Ryan Pulock, there could still be some intriguing options on the market.

One of the most appealing would be free agent forward Anthony Duclair.

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The 25-year-old was allowed to become an unrestricted free agent after the Ottawa Senators opted not to tender him a qualifying offer earlier this October The two sides failed to reach an agreement after Duclair decided to represent himself in negotiations.

“I don’t really want to get into the specifics of the negotiations,” Dorion told Ottawa Media at the time. “All I will say on this was that Anthony chose to represent himself. We told him from Day 1 that it’s not easy to represent yourself. We offered him a substantial raise over what he made last year and it’s unfortunate we couldn’t come to a contract agreement.

“We don’t close the door on anything, but he will explore unrestricted free agency.”

Since then Duclair has remained unsigned. There have been a few teams that have shown some interest, but nearly into the start of November he remains on the open market.

This bodes well for the Islanders, who could benefit from Duclair’s scoring touch that could come at a more reasonable rate as the days and months go on. As we’ve seen with other players like Taylor Hall, Duclair could be amenable to sign a one-year deal at a rate somewhere around $1 million or $2 million as a way to showcase what he could bring to the Islanders or another team on a longer deal.

With 23 goals and 17 assists in 66 games with Ottawa last season, Duclair could be a versatile option for the Islanders. He has the ability to slot well on New York’s third line alongside former Ottawa teammate Jean-Gabriel Pageau, especially if the Islanders trade Leo Komarov or don’t resign Derick Brassard.

Duclair could complement the line and bring an added scoring touch to the bottom six of the Islanders lineup. He could also be utilized in a top-six role if head coach Barry Trotz wanted to give him a chance on a line with Barzal or on the second line.

He does have some defensive liabilities in his game, but considering the success of Trotz’s defensive style, that issue could be rectified on Long Island.

The Islanders have a lot to sort out before they can look at a player like Duclair. Barzal is the team’s most important piece that they need to take care of, followed very closely by Pulock. Deals for Andy Greene, Matt Martin and Derick Brassard are also being worked on or have already been worked out.

The same goes for veteran goaltender Cory Schneider, but Duclair should be a player that Lou Lamoriello and the Islanders keep in mind once those items are taken care of.

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Free Agency

Free Agency: Martin, Greene Likely to Return to Islanders for Next Season

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New York Islanders logo

It seems all but certain that Andy Greene is returning to the New York Islanders, and the same goes for Matt Martin.

The Islanders continue to sit in a holding pattern as they look to free up cap space via trades, but things seem to be pointing to a return for the two NHL veterans. General manager Lou Lamoriello called the return of Greene “a very strong option” during a Zoom conference call on Monday night and multiple reports indicated that the Islanders and Martin are working on a deal.

Greene’s return makes even more sense following the trade of Devon Toews to Colorado on Monday. Greene has worked with Noah Dobson, who will take Toews’ place on the blue line, in the past and proved extremely valuable during the postseason.

The soon to be 38-year-old — Greene’s birthday is on Oct. 30 — could be looking at a one-year deal from the Islanders to provide that veteran presence on the blue line. Greene had four points (two goals, two assists) in 21 playoff games with the Islanders.

Martin also had an impressive postseason of his own with five goals in 21 games, which matched his regular-season total. The fan-favorite has been a mainstay on the fourth line alongside Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas.

Martin’s deal with the Islanders, or anyone else for that matter should it get to that point, would be far less than the four-year, $10 million deal he signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2016. That carried a $2.5 million AAV and that is much higher than what the Islanders can afford at the moment.

Devon Toews Traded to Colorado for Second Round Picks

The decision to move Toews on Monday came out of necessity so that the Islanders could get back some pieces to sweeten any potential trades that would move some of their pricier contracts and free up some more salary cap room. The Islanders have been working with just $8.9 million in cap space.

The Islanders still need to re-sign restricted free agents Mat Barzal and Ryan Pulock and trading away the likes of Johnny Boychuk or another hefty contract would help make that task simpler.

The Fourth Period reported that the Islanders have been shopping Boychuk around. Boychuk has two years left on a deal that carries an AAV of $6 million and a list if eight teams he can be traded to. Leo Komarov is also reportedly being shopped by the Islanders.

Komarov also has two years left on his contract, which has a $3 million AAV and a seven-team no-trade list.

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