The New York Islanders relatively new head of hockey operations, Lou Lamoriello has a lot of major decisions ahead of him in the coming months. Much is in play for the long-time hockey guru.
Lou Lamoriello, the New York Islanders GM has several major areas to figure out and he must do so much sooner rather than later. Lou has three impactful pending unrestricted free agents come season’s end. Lou also has to figure out who will be the long-term answer in goal as well, and that’s just for starters.
Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle, and Brock Nelson all are currently slated to become UFA’s at the end of this season. Who does Lou and Barry Trotz see from this trio as being a part of the future puzzle to make the Isles a future contender?
Both Lee and Eberle will turn 29 after the 2018-19 season, while Nelson just turns 27 this October. Clearly, Lee and Eberle bring a lot to the table for the Islanders. However, Lou has to consider age in a future long-term deal for either Lee or Eberle. For Nelson, he has to prove he can be a consistent player.
Keep in mind if Lou and Trotz decide to move any of these talented forwards it will most likely be a trade where the Isles receive prospects and or draft picks considering their contract status.
Future in Net
Lou also has to figure out what his game plan is in terms of the Isles long-term future in between the pipes. The Isles organization do posses three talented goalie prospects in Ilya Sorokin, Linus Soderstrom, and Jakub Skarek.
While Sorokin is probably NHL ready, Lamoriello has to figure out how to get the super-talented Russian out of the KHL. Sorokin is currently under a KHL contract through next season (2019-20). Can Lou get Sorokin over to Long Island sooner?
Soderstrom will be developing this season in the AHL for Bridgeport, while the 18-year old Skarek will be honing his game in the Finnish League this year.
Is Lou going to look towards these talented youngsters or will he make a bold play for a proven star goalie? Sergei Bobrovsky (just turned 30) is a UFA at season’s end. The early rumors are the former Vezina winning goalie is looking to match Carey Price annual price tag of $10.5 million. Another option is Lou tries to make a trade for a proven goalie. Is it possible Corey Schneider could be available (remember Lou brought him to the Devils)?
It’s very unlikely but what happens if Robin Lehner lives up to his past potential this season? Remember it wasn’t long ago when Buffalo traded a first-round pick (21st overall in 2015 Draft) to Ottawa to land the big Swedish goalie.
Leddy and Cap Space
Do not be surprised if between now and the February 25th NHL trade deadline the Isles move Nick Leddy. Leddy (age 27) is signed for the next four years with a reasonable $5.5 million cap number. Devon Toews looks NHL ready and Noah Dobson is not far away from making it to Long Island as well. These two youngsters could make Leddy very expendable.
Another thing to keep in mind is Lou might want to free up more cap space. Yes, the Isles are currently $10.6 million under the cap but if Lou wants to make a couple of major moves over the next several months and resign Anders Lee (currently cap number $3.75 million) freeing up cap space could be a necessity.
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A lot of major decisions are ahead for Lou and Trotz. But they are currently being methodical and gathering all the information they can with their own eyes before making any critical decisions.