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New York Islanders Lou Lamoriello: ‘We’ll Get All Our Players Signed’

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New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello

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.

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“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.

CONFIRMED: Islanders Will Play Next Season at Nassau Coliseum

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.”

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New York Islanders

Josh Bailey Added to COVID List After Missing Practice on Wednesday

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Josh Bailey

After missing practice on Wednesday, Josh Bailey was added to the list of players unavailable due to COVID-19 protocol. Bailey became the first New York Islanders player to make the list since the season started last week.

Josh Bailey was not on the ice on Wednesday and Islanders coach Barry Trotz said that he was “not available” when asked about his absence by NYI Hockey Now. However, the Islanders bench boss lent hope to the idea that Bailey could be available on Thursday when they face the New Jersey Devils.

Bailey’s appearance on the list does not mean he has tested positive for COVID-19, but teams are being cautious under the circumstances.

Per the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols there are several reasons a player could find their way onto the protocol list. Josh Bailey could have symptoms, but not the virus. NHL rules say that symptomatic players have to test negative twice or must go 10 days without symptoms.

Asymptomatic players can leave quarantine if they test negative for COVID or go 10 days without symptoms.

Michael Dal Colle skated with Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Leo Komarov during practice at Northwell Health Ice Center. Ross Johnston rotated into the line as well.

Kieffer Bellows skated with Anthony Beauvillier and Brock Nelson, according to Newsday’s Laura Albanese.

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New York Islanders

GREENE TEAM: Veteran Defenseman Andy Greene Prepares to Face Former ‘Mates

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Andy Greene

COVID-19 altered or canceled many things over the course of the roughly 10 months that the United States and the rest of the world have dealt with the virus. Among those milestones or events that had to be put off was the chance for Andy Greene to play against his former team, the New Jersey Devils.

Greene was acquired by the New York Islanders in mid-February and would have faced his former team in mid-March had it not been for the league postponing the season on March 12. The veteran defenseman will finally get that chance on Thursday when the Isles play New Jersey in the first of two matchups over the next four days.

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The Islanders will host New Jersey at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday night and then travel to the Prudential Center on Sunday.

“Obviously first time doing this and you know it’s going to be strange,” Greene said after the Islanders practiced on Long Island Wednesday. “it will be weird, but once we get out there I’m sure strange seeing a couple of those guys that I still have a really good relationship with. I don’t know (how it will be).

“I know it’s kind of weird. Once the puck drops and we get through the first shift there it will be hockey as usual, but for sure it will be my first time going through it.”

The 15-year NHL defenseman had been a lifelong Devil before he was traded last season to boost the Islanders’ depth at the blue line. Adam Pelech had been lost for the season following a freak injury in January and while Noah Dobson had been performing admirably in his place, the Isles needed some help.

Andy Greene only played three regular-season games in New York before COVID-19 shut down the season. The vet was able to establish his role during the postseason, where he became a vital piece in the Islanders’ run to the conference finals.

While Greene and his family have adjusted going from Devils to Islanders since the February trade, there are still little adjustments that they’re getting used to.

For instance, on Monday with the Islanders playing a matinee Greene’s two young sons were able to watch the home opener against the Boston Bruins. The Greenes watched the game from home, like the rest of the fans, and Greene’s 3-year-old son got all excited when the MSG+ broadcast showed Sparky, the Islanders mascot.

However, it did raise one pressing question for the youngest member of the Greene family.

“He was like, ‘where is NJ Devil,'” Greene said. “We were like, ‘well bud he’s not there, We’re not there anymore he’s not going to be there, but maybe on Sunday you’ll be able to see him on TV there.'”

And while Greene’s family adjusts to the change in mascots, Greene will have to find a way to play through facing guys that he came up with in the  NHL. Travis Zajac and Greene played for New Jersey together for nearly their entire careers.

Andy Greene and Zajac both made their NHL debuts during the 2006-07 and the two developed a close friendship.

“That will be obviously the more weird ones to play against,” Greene said. “Obviously knowing him, just the relationship we have together and everything we’ve been through together as teammates and friends. It will be fun. It will be good. Obviously, it will be a great challenge.”

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New York Islanders

Oliver Wahlstrom could give New York Islanders scoring jolt

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Oliver Wahlstrom

Since the New York Islanders three-goal barrage in the first period against the New York Rangers on opening night, the team has amassed just two goals over the ensuing eight periods.

Yes, it’s a small sample size and still early in the season, but in an abbreviated campaign, each game’s importance is magnified.

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Through three games, the Islanders rank 28th in the league in Corsi For percentage (42.45, per Natural Stat Trick), and just haven’t generated a ton of sustained offensive zone time outside of a brilliant start a Madison Square Garden. Hockey Reference has the Islanders at 0.7 expected goals for per game, which is tied for last with the New Jersey Devils.

It’s not time to sound the alarm bells, but it’s also not ideal to hit the snooze button and let the problem linger.

Up and down the lineup the Islanders can get more contributions from everyone. But a little tweak on the third line might go a long way. Adding 20-year-old Oliver Wahlstrom might just give the team a little spark.

With the departure of Derrick Brassard, the Islanders have so far relied on a third line of Kieffer Bellows, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Ross Johnston. That line has seen the fewest ice time of any of the offensive units, although Pageau has played in a bit of a hybrid role and has skated with other teammates and has received special teams time.

Semyon Varlamov Dominant in Shutout Win Over Boston Bruins

Right now that third line is acting more like a fourth, and not giving the Islanders much — if any — scoring depth. Bellows and Johnston have each have recorded just one shot on goal through three games. Even in limited playing time, that’s just not enough to make any tangible difference.

Sure, one could argue that this group is out there to create a forecheck and maybe give the Islanders an extra physical presence. But the fourth line already fulfills that role, and with Matt Martin already in the lineup, Barry Trotz and the Islanders are double-dipping a bit by keeping Johnston out there.

Oliver Wahlstrom has only nine games of NHL experience under his belt from last year, but did produce 22 points over 45 AHL games with Bridgeport last year. As a 19-year-old with the big club last season, he did produce a 46 percent CF percentage in those nine games, which isn’t at all terrible for a first cup of coffee as a teenager at hockey’s highest level.

On loan in Sweden this winter, Wahlstrom produced four goals and four assists over 10 games and flashed the offensive zone ability he was lauded for when the Islanders used a first-round pick on him in 2018. Wahlstrom has a high ceiling and plenty of skill with the puck, which could give the team an added element it is right now lacking.

When Michael Dal Colle officially returns from injured reserve, he’ll likely get a shot to skate on Pageau’s wing on the third line. Trotz said on Tuesday that Dal Colle was “real close” to coming off IR.

With 17 points in 85 games, Dal Colle probably won’t move the scoring needle a ton for the Islanders.

It might not be a huge difference-maker right now, but giving Oliver Wahlstrom a chance to come off the taxi squad and into the lineup could give the Islanders a little bit of an offensive spark and take the pressure off some of the top-six forwards.

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