Earlier last week the New York Islanders did a very Islanders thing and signed an aging defenceman to a short-term deal at an incredibly small cap hit. So what does that mean for the kids in the system?
The New York Islanders signed Boston Bruins buyout Dennis Seidenberg to a one-year $1 million deal on September 28th. In terms of dollars, this is a pretty good deal. It’s a low-risk type of contract, a million for a former cup winner, why not?
He brings intangibles to the team such as leaders, championship experience, and a veteran presence. But he also occupies a spot on the Islanders roster. A spot that could have otherwise gone to a young prospect in our system. Like an Adam Pelech or Scott Mayfield.
With Seidenberg, the Islanders active roster is now at 26 of a possible 23 spots. Adding Seidenberg to the Islanders defensive roster closes the door, at least for this season to either of those players. A few players were going to have to make way in order to trim that active roster without adding Seidenberg.
Who’s at risk
A simple “one-from-every-position” cut scheme is possible. A forward, a defender, and goaltender could all be dispensed of in some way or another. Either traded, sent to the minors, or find some creative way to terminate the contract ala LA Kings. But there’s a reason this is so simple, it ignores context and Islanders recent history.
If a goaltender was to be moved off the active roster, the odd man out is Jean-Francois Berube. But after last year we know the Islanders like to keep three goalies on the active roster. Sending Berube down after signing that single year one-way deal would be an odd move.
In terms of forwards Alan Quine and Shane Prince seem like the likely candidates for reassignment to the AHL. What makes them likely to go is really just because they’re at the lower end of the Islanders forward depth chart.
But both recently signed one-way deals with the club. Sending them to the AHL would require them to go through waivers. If unclaimed their move still represents no cap relief for the club. No cap relief is fine if they don’t want to bring anyone back up like Mathew Barzal.
Then we get to the defensive group. Scott Mayfield is in the same predicament as Prince and Quine, singing a two-year one-way deal just this offseason. Moving him through waivers and then to AHL would be very odd. Risking losing the player you just signed. That then puts Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech in the cuts crosshair.
Both are still on two-way deals and exempt from waivers. Moving them both to the AHL frees up $1.717 million on the cap. Allowing the team to bring up a Mathew Barzal, in terms of the cap. That would still add an extra body on the active roster. So another body would need to go down.
Any way you dissect this deal, adding Seidenberg needlessly complicates the roster. it was an addition the team didn’t absolutely need to make. The intangibles he adds are covered by other players on the roster. Both Boychuk and Leddy have cups to their names. And Andrew Ladd has two rings on his fingers.
The Islanders brought in Seidenberg for a reason. And they also knew what bringing him in would do to the rest of the roster.
Until they reveal their master plan this signing is going to be an absolute mistery. Seidenberg is a fine player. But the cost of bringing him in is greater than the $1 million he’s being paid.
The Islanders have nine defensemen on the active roster at the moment. Two players are probably going to make way to trim that down to seven.
With the Islander rightfully pretty high on Ryan Pulock; Adam Pelech and Scott Mayfield are going to have to make way in some way or another.
Their plan hasn’t yet revealed itself, but everything surrounding the deal is, at least so far, a head scratcher. Why sign players just to send them down to the AHL and put the team at a disadvantage on the cap? Zidlicky 2016 (aka: Dennis Seidenberg) is a fine player, but question marks persist around the team for making the deal in the first place.