The wait continues…
No, not for the Presidential Election results, but for any sort of resolution between the New York Islanders and Mathew Barzal. The Islanders star player is the only restricted free agent left that general manager Lou Lamoriello needs to re-sign.
On Wednesday, Ryan Pulock spoke with reporters after he signed his new two-year contract extension and was asked if he had communicated at all with Barzal during the RFA process. The Islanders defenseman indicated that they had and suggested that both players wanted to work out deals that made sense for all parties.
“We both obviously want to make it work so that we can keep everyone together and I think that’s the main goal,” Pulock said. “We want to win together, we want to keep this team together. I think we’ve talked a little bit, but his business side of it is his doing.”
Those words have sent some reassurance to Islanders fans that Barzal indeed wants to remain a member of the organization. Considering the success that the team has had over the last two seasons under Barry Trotz, that shouldn’t be too surprising, but Islanders fans are still shaking off years of misery so they still remain a bit cagy.
Pulock’s comments also have suggested to some that Barzal would be willing to take a discounted deal in order to keep everyone together. The deal that Pulock signed was a shorter-term deal at $10 million over two years, but came in financially around what Pulock likely would have gotten from an arbitrator.
And Pulock will become an unrestricted free agent at a point when the league’s and Islanders’ financial situation is in a better spot and the flat salary cap of $81.5 million has risen.
While Barzal won’t necessarily be taking a “team-friendly deal” the talented forward and his agent are more than aware of the financial circumstances of the NHL at the moment. Barzal will likely see somewhere in the neighborhood of $7 million, but could they be willing to come down a little with the prospect of a larger payday down the line in two or three years?
That would make sense for both sides, especially if Barzal wants to help the Islanders keep the core of the team together, and could be what plays out when all is said and done.
The NHL is targeting Jan. 1 as a start date for the season, but the situation remains fluid and Lamoriello still has time. Eventually, though, something will have to get done.