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Will Lamoriello Get Creative to Create Cap Space for Barzal?



New York Islanders practice at Northwell Health Ice Center on Long Island

There’s an old adage that New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello likes to use: “If there’s time, use it.”

With the potential start of the 2020-21 NHL season beginning to loom, that time that the Islanders had to figure out their cap situation is starting to run out. New York has $3.9 million in cap space left to sign Mathew Barzal to a new deal, as well as potentially bring back Andy Green and Matt Martin and sign Corey Schneider to a deal.

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So Lamoriello has a few things to take care of while there is still time on the clock to get them done. The Islanders are allowed to exceed the cap by 10 percent during the offseason, but the offseason could be over in a matter of weeks if the NHL is able to begin the new season on their targeted Jan. 1 start date.

Thus, the New York Islanders will be forced to make some tough decisions over the coming weeks as a hard start date for training camps and the season become clearer.

Lamoriello and the Islanders have known that their cap situation was going to be precarious since they stepped off the plan in Farmingdale in September following their Eastern Conference Finals defeat at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning. To his credit, Lamoriello has worked since the offseason started to clear up cap space so that they could bring back as many players as possible for next year.

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But it’s been tough trying to move some of the team’s most expensive contracts — Johnny Boychuk and Andrew Ladd. Lamoriello even dealt one of the team’s top four defensemen in Devon Toews in October to acquire pieces that might help facilitate a trade to free up money.

Since then, as they say, all has been quiet on the western front.

Perhaps the looming season might push some teams to be more inclined to make a deal with the Islanders, but if no one has bit yet it would be hard to imagine much changing now.

LTIR may be the best bet for the Islanders to clear up some space and Ladd and Boychuk would be at the top of the list for the Islanders to try and use it on. That being said, using LTIR doesn’t come without some challenges.

Perhaps Lamoriello looks at some of the other contracts that the Islanders have a decides to move them in an effort to clear cap space. Would he look to deal a Josh Bailey, Jordan Eberle or even Casey Cizikas?

It’s highly unlikely, but the Islanders general manager will need to get creative to make financial room for Barzal.

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The wheels are in motion for the NHL to be up and running in January and it would be safe to assume that training camps could open sometime in the middle of December. Lamoriello has found himself in cap crunches before, but this one is the most challenging consider all the extenuating circumstances.

Lamoriello’s creed of using time when you have it made plenty of sense and it’s paid off during his time with the Islanders so far. He’s had some time since the season ended in September, now we’ll see if was put to good use.