New York Islanders
Salary Cap Rising Again, Effect on Islanders Salary Situation
The general managers from across the National Hockey League were in Florida for the past few days as they worked on plans for next season. There’s been chatter around officiating, what to do with long-term injury reserve, and more.
On Tuesday, The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun announced that the league has officially told all general managers that the salary cap, which did not rise from last season to this season due to the pandemic, will increase by $1 million to $82.5 million for the 2022-2 season.
A $1 million increase may not seem like a lot, but it shows that the NHL is more or less back on track financially. The pandemic significantly hurt the league and many teams due to the inability to generate revenue from ticket sales.
For New York, the extra $1 million could help sign a big-time free agent, especially if they can clear some salary-cap space either at the 2022 NHL Draft or during the summer months.
The New York Islanders, as of now, will enter the 2022 offseason with $12,255,833 in cap space.
The New York Islanders do not have many things to worry about this offseason. Most of their UFA’s will not be back. A few RFA’s need to be dealt with this summer, with Noah Dobson’s next contract at the top of the list.
Noah Dobson is not a UFA until after the 2026-27 season, so the Islanders could do a bridge deal of two to three years at $3-3.5 million dollars. General manager Lou Lamoriello is not a stranger to bridge deals, as he did two with Ryan Pulock, one with Anthony Beauvillier, and one with Mathew Barzal.
The other two RFA’s, Kieffer Bellows and Robin Salo, will likely be signed to league-minimum deals ($750,000 AAV). If either gets a second year, which would more likely be Salo, he will receive $762,000 annually.
Earlier this week, the Islanders loaned forward Richard Panik to the Chicago Wolves, the AHL affiliate for the Carolina Hurricanes. The Islanders will look to get rid of his dead cap space ($250,000), which would leave the Islanders with over $7 million in space.
That cap space can be used to bring in a left defenseman unless the Islanders believe that 23-year old Robin Salo is ready. If that’s the case, then just a seventh defenseman.
As for upgrading, the New York Islanders will need to move at least two contracts to create the space necessary to bring in some high-end talent. At the very least, one of those contracts needs to be Josh Bailey’s, which has a cap hit of $10 million over the next two seasons ($5 million AAV).
Another could be the $5 million remaining on the contract of Semyon Varlamov, who has one year left. But it sounds like the Islanders want to hold onto Varlamov.
But where this cap increase affects the Islanders is after next season.
Following the 2022-23 season, the New York Islanders need to pay RFA Mathew Barzal, RFA Oliver Wahlstrom, and UFA Scott Mayfield.
The salary cap will rise by $1 million to $83.5 million for the 2023-24 season.