The New York Islanders won’t be working with a lot of cap room when it comes to re-signing restricted and unrestricted free agents this offseason, but general manager Lou Lamoriello is planning on doing all that he can to keep the current group together.
The NHL offseason kicked into high gear on Tuesday with the NHL draft and opening of free agency rapidly approaching. The Islanders have a combined 17 UFAs and RFAs they need to attend to, which includes Mat Barzal, Ryan Pulock and Devon Toews.
“All I’m doing is focusing in on communication with each and every one of our restricted free agents and also our unrestricted free agents,” Lou Lamoriello said on a Zoom call on Tuesday. “Seeing exactly what we can get done. We did not have any communication during the playoffs intentionally and Right now we’re talking. I feel that we’ll get all our players signed in due time.”
The Islanders have roughly $8.9 million in cap space for this upcoming season, so re-signing players will take a bit of financial acrobatics. The limited cap space — an issue that many teams across the NHL are facing — also means the Islanders could be restricted in what they’re able to do during free agency without moving some pieces to clear up space.
Lou Lamoriello indicated the Islanders would look outwards to improve if it made sense, but that they would look internally as well.
“There’s room for improvement internally,” Lamoriello said. “If we can get better externally we’ll certainly do that. Right now we’re going to focus in on trying to keep our team together.”
While Barzal, Pulock and Toews are all but locked in to return next season, it’s some of the Islanders pending UFAs that have a bigger question mark surrounding their return. Fan-favorite Matt Martin and playoff star Andy Greene are up in the air if the Islanders bring them back.
Both players played a role in the Islanders success this postseason, which saw them return to the conference finals for the first time since 1993. Lamoriello said that he’d “love” to have Greene back for next season.
“We certainly would like to sign and have our free agents back,” Lamoriello said about the Islanders free agents. “That has been communicated to them. We have a period of time that we have to make some internal decisions and have to make some moves. Nothing specific at this point. When it happens you’ll all hear about it. The contribution they gave was just fantastic and the quality of people that they are.
“We certainly would like them back and we’ll do everything we can.”