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New York Islanders UFA Dilemma With Brock Nelson and Matt Duchene

RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA - MAY 01: Brock Nelson #29 of the New York Islanders moves the puck against Justin Faulk #27 of the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period of Game Three of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena on May 01, 2019 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Hurricanes won 5-2. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA - MAY 01: Brock Nelson #29 of the New York Islanders moves the puck against Justin Faulk #27 of the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period of Game Three of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena on May 01, 2019 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Hurricanes won 5-2. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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The New York Islanders enter yet another critical off-season. The Isles need to improve their scoring, which leads us to the Brock Nelson – Matt Duchene dilemma.

The New York Islanders have a number of key unrestricted free agents this off-season, one of which is Brock Nelson. The Isles would love to add Matt Duchene who might become a UFA on July 1st.

But how does

Lou Lamoriello

juggle these moving parts?

The Dilemma

If the Islanders want to land Duchene (why wouldn’t they?) it’s a tricky situation. Reason being, if the Isles sign Duchene to be one of their top two centers, that means Nelson will be playing elsewhere next season.

However, if the Isles lose out on Duchene they need to re-sign Nelson. Clearly, Duchene is the better player but how much risk will the Isles be taking by aggressively pursuing him?

Duchene can speak to other teams a week before July 1st, per free agency rules. There will be many suitors for Duchene starting with Nashville, Montreal, Columbus, and probably the Islanders. Remember the Blue Jackets are the only team that can offer the third overall pick of the 2009 Draft, an eight-year contract.

Lamoriello tried very hard to land Duchene at the trade deadline by what was believed to be a package centered around the Isles first-round pick in this June’s Draft along with Anthony Beauvillier.

But pursuing Duchene means holding off signing Nelson to the very end of the Isles exclusive window to sign Brock.

The Plan

Nelson had his best season this past year by posting 25 Goals and 53 Points. Doubt it was a coincidence that happened under Barry Trotz watch.

The key numbers with Brock are five and six. Nelson will land a new deal with an annual value between $5.5 – $6.0 million. That new contract will be for at least five years maybe six.

Can Lou sign Nelson now to a reasonable contract, say five years at $5.5 million? If Lamoriello can should he take the bird in the hand approach? A strong argument can be made if such a deal can be struck now then the Isles should get it done.

But if a new Nelson deal is going to come at a premium, then it makes sense to see if the Islanders can land the better player in Duchene. Keep in mind, competition for Duchene will be fierce.

Isles Blue Line Depth Could lead to a Major Trade. Next

The Islanders need to get better regarding their top-six forwards. Duchene would go a long way towards that.

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