New York Islanders: Cost of a Cap Dump

Feb 11, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Mikhail Grabovski (84) holds off Los Angeles Kings defenseman Brayden McNabb (3) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 11, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Mikhail Grabovski (84) holds off Los Angeles Kings defenseman Brayden McNabb (3) during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports /

The New York Islanders like almost every other team in the league have at least one contract that they wish didn’t exist. Getting rid of it might sound easy but it’s much more difficult than it seems.

In 2014 the New York Islanders signed free agents Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin to massif four-year deals worth $5 million and $4.187 million per year respectfully.

While Kulemin seems to have cemented his place on the Islanders second line, its Mikhail Grabovski‘s $5 million hit that the Islanders and GM Garth Snow wish they could get a do-over. But getting rid of his contract is harder than it seems.

There are a few options available to the Islanders if they want that contract to go away. Either they buy out the remainder of Grabovski’s deal, or they trade it away to a team looking to get up to the salary floor.

Both options aren’t great solutions for the New York Islanders based on their current. But how did the Isles get to a point where they wish they didn’t have Grabovski at all?

How Grabovski has Played as an Isles

Grabovski came to the Islanders on the second day of the free agency window back in 2014. Grabovski was coming off a relatively successful season with the Washington Capitals after being recently bought out by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

In the two seasons since his arrival, Grabovski has played 107 games and scored 44 points. A scoring rate of 0.41 points per game. Nowhere near the price he is being paid.

Thanks to General Fanager we can see comparable contracts to Grabovski’s. Such as Jarome Iginla, Jason Pominville and Mike Cammalleri. All signed in 2014, all were free agents, all were 30 years of age or more at the time of signing, and all were signed for about $5 million per year.

The three players have returned points per game totals of: Iginla 0.64 (109pts in 164 games), Pominville 0.57 (90pts in 157 games), Michael Cammalleri 0.72 (80pts in 110 games).

The $5 million the Islanders are paying Grabovski just doesn’t fit with the production he’s giving the team.

Finding a Trade Suitor for Grabovski

So how do we move his deal? Trade? or Buyout?

When dealing with a trade you always have to consider the other side of the deal. In this case, it’s who would actually want a ‘bad’ deal. Who could actually take a $5 million contract that they know isn’t worth what the player will actually give you on the ice?

It has to be a team that needs to get up to the salary cap floor. There aren’t too many of those teams to begin with. And a few of them have already made moves to bring them up to the floor.

The Carolina Hurricanes picked up Bryan Bickell’s $4 million cap hit from the Chicago Blackhawks and netted themselves Teuvo Teravainen for doing so. The Blackhawks got to shed some cap space and picked up a few draft picks in the process.

Carolina Hurricanes acquireDateChicago Blackhawks acquire

Bryan Bickell

June 15, 2016

2016 2nd round pick

The New Jersey Devils took Marc Savard’s $4.021 million cap hit from the Florida Panthers and got a second round pick in return.

New Jersey Devils acquireDateFlorida Panthers acquire

Marc Savard

June 13, 2016

Graham Black

With New Jersey and Carolina out of the ‘bad’ contract market, it really only leaves the Arizona Coyotes. A team that currently finds themselves $20.7 million from a projected cap floor of $55.1 million in 2016-17.

But what those two previous deals is that sending a ‘bad’ deal to another team comes at a cost. Either in the form of prospects or draft picks. Something the Islanders don’t have much to give up.

The Islanders don’t have many picks in this upcoming draft, they have a first round, fourth round, a sixth, and two seventh round picks. The prospects they do have are likely to feature heavily in the lineup in the nxt few years. Giving them up to bury a mistake would just compound the mistake.

The Buyout Route

So is a buyout an option if trading isn’t? Absolutely, it just depends on what business the Islanders plan on doing in the offseason.

The Isles already have a number of RFAs that need deals. There may not be much money left over after getting their signatures.According to, the cost of a Grabovski buyout would be $1.833 million over three of the next four years and a further $0.833 million next year.

It would save a total of $3.166 million on the cap. It’s an avenue the Islanders should obviously explore. It would make Grabovski the only player to ever be bought out twice. The extra cost over the next four years might be more than the Isles are willing to take. But the potential saving now, for a team trying to push forward now, just makes sense.

Next: Isles Should Take Best Available Talent at Draft

We know that Garth Snow is looking at the cap over the long term, he revealed as much when discussing Kyle Okposo’s situation a week ago on Sirius XM radio. Buyout Grabovski would benefit the Isles now, but may hurt them later. With a relatively stagnant salary cap, this might be a way to find extra room.