The NHL offseason is officially upon us, and plenty of teams around the league have already made major moves.
So before we go any further, let’s break down what a realistic offseason will look like for the New York Islanders.
The Islanders have plenty of needs, but with a lot of immovable contracts and a little cap space, it’ll be difficult for team president and general manager Lou Lamoriello to accomplish everything on his to-do list. However, there are a few moves the veteran executive has to make before the Islanders open the season against the Sabres on Oct. 14.
Offload A Bad Contract (Or Two)
According to Stefen Rosner of The Hockey News, Lamoriello spoke candidly yesterday during his pre-draft media availability about how some of the signings he’s made in previous years are haunting the Islanders this offseason.
“We’re in this position because of what happened with assumptions — which is a real bad word — of where the cap would be,” Lamoriello said. “So some of the signings that we made three years ago […] we would not have done because, in your planning, you also know what the progression will be and can be because of where the revenues are going.”
Lamoriello stated in a press conference on June 6 that Josh Bailey will not return to the Islanders for a 16th season next year. Ideally, the Islanders can create $5 million in cap space by trading Bailey. At the very least, he will be bought out of the final year of his deal, carrying a $2.3 million cap hit.
However, Bailey isn’t the only bad contract on the Islanders’ books. If there’s a team out there that is willing to take on his deal and possibly another, there’s no reason for Lamoriello not to consider the move.
Lamoriello may not be able to make a huge splash this offseason, but he can certainly set himself up to do so next year by creating more cap flexibility now.
Extend Ilya Sorokin
After the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche both won the Stanley Cup without an elite netminder, there’s an argument to be made that a team doesn’t need to allot a huge portion of salary cap space to a goalie, but the Islanders are the exception.
Although he didn’t win the Vezina Trophy at the NHL Awards on Monday night, there’s no way to understate just how important Ilya Sorokin was to the Islanders last season. Sorokin was the backbone of the team, and there’s a genuine chance the Islanders wouldn’t have made the playoffs without him. Given the current makeup of the roster, that’ll be the case for the foreseeable future.
As he enters the final year of his contract, it’s imperative that he gets locked up long-term before he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Fix The Powerplay
Whether by making a change up front, on the back end or behind the bench, the Islanders need to find a solution to fix their abysmal powerplay.
All season long, the Islanders looked impotent on the man advantage and would stagnate their momentum every time an opposing player was sent to the penalty box. Lamoriello has to send a message that won’t be a repeated theme next year by making a move this summer.
There are a few players that fit the Islanders’ budget available this offseason. We’ll get into them as we get closer to July 1.